Initially, I thought I’d come to Burma with 3 other yoga teachers, teach yoga, and consequently share our experiences with you, including descriptions, photos and videos. This is certainly the time first time anyone taught Vinyasa flow yoga in a nunnery to nuns in their robes, and thus the dilemma.
I didn’t quite understand why we couldn’t post videos of the class, but I quickly learned. This is such a first, so new that it’s uncertain what the political and religious climate is for a deviation from typical monastic life – yoga. I am certain our nuns, are the only nuns in Burma who have practiced yoga in this manner, and they LOVED it. Buddhist Cambodia? Thailand? Laos? Vietnam? Something to research for the future, but our hearts are with Burma at the moment.
When I think of yoga, I think of the 8 limbs of yoga: the yamas, the niyamas, pranayama, asana, and the final 4 that includes the different levels of meditation. So much reflects many of the concepts of Buddhism, but where does asana fit in? That is the key question. I’ve consulted Rolf Gates on this, and I’m still waiting for a response. He just published his new book, Meditations on Intention and Being: Daily Reflections on the Path of Yoga, MIndfulness and Compassion which follows meditation through these 8 limbs. My question again is how does Asana support the principles of Theravada Buddhism?
This is my typical long-winded way of saying that I cannot share videos of full classes that would compromise the monastery or future teaching of yoga in a nunnery. I’d love to show you these amazing clips, but for now I need to wait for private showings, and I will put together a combined slide show/video to present to you, my OTM and Concord followers.
One of our goals is to empower these girls to find their strength, their individuality, their voices. And I know we are on the road to achieving this. This is especially important since most girls leave the nunnery after matriculation and enter “the world.”
It was hard to say good-bye. After our final chant, I looked up and saw tears as the girls wiped their eyes with their robes. The poignant outpouring of emotion is yoga, and we witnessed it first hand, and yes, tears welled for all of us. Tears of compassion, connection and love for these beautiful beings of light.