Some days, you gotta dance. Dance sets us free when there are no words, and sometimes, it’s just the only thing left to do. When many of us think of yoga, we think of a similar release. Peter Crowley, a local Boston yoga instructor and inspiration, puts these two practices together every Friday night with Freedom Joy Yoga – a class that combines yoga, a house music playlist, a dark room, a disco ball, and some seriously ecstatic dancing. The Boston Yoga Blog went to Back Bay Yoga Studio this past Friday to give you a first-hand look into the class that has Boston Yogis kicking up their heels:
How many of us, at some early point in our lives, have stood wide-eyed in a preschool classroom to see some version of the phrase “be yourself” on a bright colored wall? Looking back on my kinder-years, I think this is quite a lofty request to make of a 5 or 6-year-old. If you ask me, it takes a lot of courage to be yourself. And, when your version of greatness doesn’t look like everyone else’s – when you have to let go of everyone else’s approval to have your own – well, that takes even more courage.
What happens when it’s not that easy? What happens when “being myself” means walking down a path that no one seems to have been down before, when the perfect song lyrics to match my connundrum just haven’t been written yet? How can I be sure in these moments that I won’t end up traveling my heart’s path with regret as my only companion?
Well, to be honest, I couldn’t be so sure when I woke up this morning. Tossing and turning at 6:30 a.m. it felt like regret was wagging its tail at my bedside, begging to go on a walk. So, I enlisted a friend for some help. I told him of my wavering stance on taking a stand for “myself” in the middle of impending decisions and transitions. He shared a great little story with me…
He told me that he used to think of life as a railroad track – his older brother’s train car was the one in front of his, and his brother’s life – his brother’s path – would be the one he would walk. He felt he could easily predict his future – when he would get married, when he would get a job, when he would get a house – based on where his brother’s life had taken him. Then, in the process of some soul searching, he had a revelation and called a friend to share it:
“I’ve always thought I would have to take my brother’s path,” he told his friend. “Now I’m seeing that there is no one path – there are so many – I can take any of them!”
His friend responded simply: “There are no paths.”
I was awestruck.
With that story, I realized that where faith exists, regret struggles to get enough oxygen. There are no paths. There is no right way. There is just one way or the other way. However, when we know in our hearts which way is the “right” one for us, it can be darn scary when that means taking the road less traveled … or worse, un-traveled.
Trusting that I’ll be carried down that unpaved road is where I can get really stuck. I think one of the hardest things to do in life is to trust – trust that we won’t end up homeless if we try to make it as a musician, trust that we know more than we think we do when the world is telling us we’re wrong. Perhaps when we’re standing at the fork in road, we can have faith that destiny is not laid out for us, but that wherever we are being led, we will be taken care of. Perhaps instead of anticipating balancing on one tine of a baffling “fork”, we can expect to be cradled by a big spoon – no matter which path is ours, we will be supported on all sides, with infinite directions to continue walking in.
If there’s one person in this world who can make millions of people want to start wearing parachute pants again just by wearing them herself, it’s Lady Gaga. With a previously unmatched power of influence, Gaga, thank goodness, isn’t using it to bring back the questionable fashion trends of the 80s (…at least this time.) For now, she’s using it to empower youth.
Yesterday, Gaga launched the Born this Way Foundation at Harvard University. Encouraging bullied youth to embrace who they are, Gaga told the audience of plans to spread a message of hope and empowerment for kids and teens who are being bullied both in and out of the classroom.
“This is not an anti-bullying foundation. This is a youth-empowerment foundation,” she told the crowd, according to Boston.com.
According to the National Education Association’s nationwide study of bullying, it was estimated in 2011 that nearly 30 percent of school-aged children suffer the affects of bullying on a monthly basis. According to their study, “the associated negative effects of bullying include a range of academic, social, emotional, physical health, and mental health problems” which all, in conjunction, often lead to academic struggle and possible failure.
So how does Gaga plan to turn it all around?
The multiplatinum artist and international phenomenon was quoted in an article by Nicholas Kristof yesterday saying that, instead of focusing on a “top-down crackdown” from school administration and other higher-ups, as Kristof put it, she wants to start at the bottom by making kindness what all the cool kids are doing.
“I’m not here today to give you an answer. And I’m not here to tell you I can solve these problems,” Gaga told the audience yesterday. “This is about transformative change in culture over a period of time.”
Olweus, a bullying prevention program, claims that students who bully “play a leader role” in their school’s hierarchy. Those students who are not directly bullying typically end up behaving as supporters or as “disengaged onlookers”. What the Born this Way Foundation seeks to do is to use the mechanics of the high school food chain in an effort to reverse degrading behavior at the source.
According to its website, The Foundation stresses three pillars which, when combined, are the supposed ingredients for a “braver, kinder world.” The first pillar, “Safety,” is cited as a necessary dynamic in order for “young people to be able to explore themselves.” The Foundation offers online forums to ensure that this safe environment is available for youths looking to “celebrate their individuality”.
The second pillar is “skills” – the Born this Way Foundation seeks to provide its audience with the tools they’ll need to become successful leaders once they’ve gotten comfortable in their own skin. “It’s not enough for us to simply tell you about the importance of making change,” its website reads. “We’re going to provide you with the skills, tools and resources you need to feel empowered and lead.”
Lastly, “opportunity” is the third pillar. Stressing that the effort is only as strong as its supporters, the Foundation gives individuals the resources they’ll need to pass the message on and foster hope in their communities.
According to her representative, Gaga has already donated $1.2 million of her own fortune to the foundation. To make a donation or learn more about the call to end bullying and empower youth, click here.
”If you have revolutionary potential, you must make the world a better place and use it,” Gaga said, according to Socialitelife.com. ”This is about transformative change in culture.”