It’s All Yoga: Perspectives from Kripalu’s Acting CEO

March 25, 2021

Yoga is more than just poses on a mat, it is an invitation. Yoga invites us into a paradox, one that says we are unique and yet not separate from all that is around us. And though it is also poses on a mat, it has never been just about being physically strong or flexible. Yoga is a way of being and a way of doing, a powerful source of wisdom, service, and practice. It’s a path to remembering some fundamental principles about ourselves and this world. So many incredible teachers have walked and explored this path before us, including Swami Kripalu, a beautiful source of inspiration for what we do at Kripalu. Regardless of what lineage these teachings came from, they all point to the same thing; we are a unique expression of an undivided whole. Within this is the core understanding that, as humans, at our most essential level, we are not flawed, we are not broken—in fact, we are stunningly whole and complete. Yoga is a path to remembering our unique expression of this wholeness whilst often being on a journey of discovery and transformation. Yoga also teaches us that while we are unique, we are also connected through an unseen web that permeates all of life. 
When we hold this view, we can start to see and understand that, in fact, all of life is yoga. All of life is a path to helping us remember our wholeness and our unity, whilst never losing our unique expression. As we hold this understanding of yoga it can become embodied in our lives more fully. Yoga is about being present with what is, whatever it is, and to be intimately present with it. I spent so many years rejecting parts of myself, mostly the parts I believed didn’t fit into my idea of “yoga”, my fears, my shame, my tears, my body, my illnesses. The more I have practiced compassionate present moment awareness with myself and the world around me I have found more ease in the paradox and in the path of yoga, and there is plenty of room for more practicing!
Yoga is so much more. It is about being and doing, about the inner and outer dance of life. It is about finding the compassion to pause for ourselves and the courage to take action for others. It is about allowing our hearts to be broken open by grief and equally by joy, sometimes within seconds of each other. It is about acknowledging our fear and tapping our courage. It is about being stressed out and noticing the moments of stillness within the chaos. It is about giving it your all and surrendering it all up.  It is about living yoga in the studio, in the home, on the highway, and in the boardroom. Yoga is a path of remembering our wholeness and our unity and remembering that in others, and if it is truly all one, then nothing needs to be rejected. In my own experience, the things I have rejected have only gone deeper into my unconscious, finding creative ways to play out behind the scenes below my radar of awareness, always with less skill than I aspire to. The path of yoga allows us to bring it all forward to be seen, to be held, and to be integrated as part of our unique expression of this undivided whole.
With deep sadness, I could list so many parts of our world that are affected by violence and deep injustice, in Atlanta and Colorado, in Myanmar and Tigray, the list is too long. Part of the invitation of yoga is to see our role in how we are co-creating the systems that support this story of division and in seeing our role, as agents of change, in creating new systems that truly work for all. This is what we need in the world now—to build a foundation where we can hold the paradox and find more space to include, within ourselves and within our communities. If we do not, we will continue to harden and become fixed in a culture of division and disconnection. This view is shaping how Kripalu will be showing up in the world and how we will serve our purpose of igniting personal and societal transformation.  We are being called forward to a collective healing and to shift our culture lens, from one of brokenness and separation to one of wholeness and togetherness.

Robert Mulhall is the CEO of Kripalu. He is passionate about service and deeply curious about how people can facilitate sustainable transformation to enable more peace, justice, and freedom in our world.

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