Yoga for all- by Karo Tak
Patanjali Yoga Sutra Chapter 2 verse 35: ahiṁsā-pratiṣṭhāyaṁ tat-sannidhau vairatyāghaḥ ॥35॥ अिहंसाप्रितष्ठायां तत्सिन्नधौ वैरत्यागः॥३५॥ In the presence of one firmly established in non violence, all hostilities cease. (Sri Swami Satchidananda)
AHIMSA: the practice of non violence.
These texts are ancient. It’s not something I am making up or my dear teacher Sharon Gannon (co founder of the yoga method I teach: *Jivamukti Yoga) is making up. No, this groundbreaking knowledge is as old as time. Patanjali is talking here about the practice of non violence, of not harming others.
*The Jivamukti Yoga method emphasises asana, scriptural study, devotion, prayer, music, chanting and meditation as well as veganism, environmentalism and political activism.
Yoga is vegan. It is. Or in my eyes at least it should be. Many of my yogi and non yogi friends refer to my method as “vegan yoga”. First and foremost because of who I am. I am an animal rights activist to the core. Who happens to teach Jivamukti Yoga, who happens to be a vegan chef, who happens to make her own vegan cheese but I am always the activist first. I have direct action hands on experience with saving animals, with putting myself and my life on the line for the cause. I live for this. Ahimsa is my daily drive of existence in this non ahimsa world. The practice of ahimsa shines through in all the work I do here in Lisbon, in my own vegan cafe (which I run and co-founded with my best friend Lisa Dickmann) in my Jivamukti Yoga Classes and with my own vegan cheese company: Gopal.
I have travelled the world talking to people about my activism, ahimsa, veganism and Jivamukti Yoga. To give it to you all in a nutshell. (I love metaphors which involve food so much) it’s really simple. You don’t have to be a hardcore activist like me. You can just be you needing change in your life. You slowly are starting to feel more, see more, understand that you too can make a huge impact and difference in this world.
Being on a plant based diet is good for you, it’s good for the environment and it’s good for the animals. Period. That’s just a fact, unarguably so. You can’t put a moral imperative on science. You have the right to your own opinion about this of course but not the right to your own facts. A fact is a fact. Simple as that. When you start seeing that you can reduce your carbon footprint, that you can buy less and recycle more, that you can look every single being on this planet consciously in the eye knowing you’re doing the right thing that’s when it starts really hitting you. Yoga is vegan. Animal liberation is your liberation. You will start to feel massive shifts in your life. You will walk a brand new path, you will feel transformed. It’s so powerful. You will be healthier, you will feel lighter, your yoga practice will start to evolve on a whole different level. You will become as I call a radical shapeshifter. Someone who is interested in the root of something, who wants to make radical changes in your own life and that of others.
Animal liberation is our liberation. We will not be free if we take the freedom away from others. - Sharon Gannon
Who doesn’t want to be happy and healthy? Who doesn’t want to be free and liberated from guilt and ignorance (avidya) Who doesn’t want to feel light, strong, empowered and transformed? At the end of the day we all do.
Take it step by step. Navigate your way through this new lifestyle in a way which suits you best. But let me tell you this as soon as you are well established in this plant based existence you never want to go back. I guarantee you.
You might think this is a little radical, mad or crazy. To quote Serena Williams (narrating the latest Nike commercial) they want to call you crazy? Fine. Show them what crazy can do.
Photo credit: Luis Luz