It came to me unexpectedly. I was sitting outside under the stars on the steps of my cabin at Omega Institute on the first night of the National Yoga Service Conference. I was thinking about the idea of a yoga revolution, trying to figure out how to explain my crazy idea that yoga can help make the world a more peaceful and loving place. Suddenly, the word “con-spire” came to me. Ever the Latin nerd, I had to catch my breath when I realized that “con” literally means “with.” And I was pretty sure that “spire” meant to breathe. That’s it! Con-spire. To breathe together.
So much of our culture, and specifically consumeristic pop yoga culture, is focused on the self – your own body, your own breathing, your own experience. This attention to our own inner experience is crucial and can be very empowering - but it is only the first stage of awakening that yoga offers. If we stop here, if we end by “thanking ourselves for coming to yoga” and leave class satisfied that we have a beautiful practice and a nice yoga butt, then we have missed the most amazing part.
I’ve long tried to describe the incredible paradox of yoga. When we take time to go inward – to focus on our inner experience rather than the endless barrage of external stimuli that assault us in every waking moment, we can learn to access that deep, inner sense of ourselves, of our groundedness, of our goodness. When I find that place deep within me – that place of peace, hope, love and light – just when I discover these gifts of solitude, I am amazed to find that I am not truly alone at all. I am connected to everyone and everything. I experience the transformative shift from solitude to solidarity.
It’s that Namaste moment when I am in that deepest place in me and I discover that I am connected – in a deep and divine way – to you. I am breathing all alone. And I am breathing with you and with everyone in the universe.
I remember during my yoga teacher training Aimee Senise Conners taught us about the concept in Indian philosophy of Perusha – the unitive consciousness that was the original goal of yoga. Yoga helps us to re-member that we are all connected, that we can tune into a sense of ourselves that yokes, unifies us with ourselves and with each other. By re-membering the parts of our selves on the mat, we can re-member our original spiritual unity with everyone around us.
If mindful breathing and moving can bring me and my crazy mind, my selfish heart, my hyperactive body to a place of peace and connectedness…
What if we could breathe together, move together, play together and work together toward a more peaceful and just world?
What if we fully allowed our sense of connectedness to inform the way we think, work, serve, and live our everyday lives?
When we practice yoga together, we literally con*spire. What if we could con*spire to wage a peaceful yoga revolution?
We could Con*spire for Good.