There is an old Indian parable about a wolf.
A grandfather is talking with his grandson and he says there are two wolves inside of us which are always at war with each other. One of them is a good wolf which represents things like kindness, bravery and love. The other is a bad wolf, which represents things like greed, hatred and fear. The grandson stops and thinks about it for a second then he looks up at his grandfather and says, “Grandfather, which one wins?” The grandfather quietly replies, the one you feed.
As Yoga studio owners, we need to be careful which wolf we feed when it comes to how we communicate with our students, either directly or through our teachers. In this space, we previously discussed how yoga and politics don’t mix. Given the current climate of our culture and the continued events that are streamed endlessly in the media and on social media, studio owners need to be diligent about protecting both their business interests and the teachings of yoga.
While we see many businesses entering the fray of politics by the words of their leadership figures or even policies, which are largely designed to draw media attention which amounts to free advertising over any substance, yoga studios should stay out of this arena altogether. The teachings of yoga are clear on the subject of politics, and that is anything that creates duality is not yoga. The word yoga itself means union and in yoga we always seek harmony. If we see someone as affiliated with one political party or another, then we have created duality. From duality stems the irrational fears that we see destroying the culture of this country. In the interest of yoga, we should continue to teach that yoga is apolitical.
We must also remember that we are all human beings and divine souls, and that we are all the same. It is our circumstances that lead us to believe that we are different, but circumstances are only the lessons that we must learn in this lifetime to burn karma. We are, as human beings, constantly reflecting the self, in each and every thing that we do.The human being that is pointing the finger of racism is the racist, because that being is creating duality in their words and deeds. The human being pointing the finger of unity and oneness is in the solution, and creating unity with their words and deeds.
We must teach the students that in order to overcome their perception of duality, where it exists, that they must overcome their kleshas, the root of all human suffering including identity. These kleshas are ignorance (the inability to see reality), the ego, likes (attachment), dislikes and survival instinct. We must teach that the politics of identity and political correctness drives a wedge of division into our human divinity and purposely drives us apart and that these tools of ignorance are used against us for the benefit of those that preach this duality. There is no room for politics in yoga, or our business of yoga.
Which wolf will you feed?
Sarvesh Naagari is the owner of Ripple Yoga in Seattle, WA and author of the inspirational novel of the spirit, 20,000 Oms and a Cup of Chai. He has accumulated approximately 2,500 hours of teacher training including a six-month stay at the Ananda Ashram at ICYER in Pondicherry, India where he studied the Yoga teachings of Maharishi Patanjali and Swamiji Gitananda Giri, the Lion of Pondicherry. He also has an MBA in Executive Management from the Washington State University and a Bachelor’s of Science, Corporate Finance and Accounting from the University of Maryland. Prior to opening Ripple Yoga, Sarvesh was a Corporate Executive for 20 years in technology and innovation. He is also a regular contributor to the Seattle Yoga News and the ClassPass blog. In his spare time, Sarvesh is an avid musician, singer, hockey player and volleyball enthusiast.