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Learning Through Yoga I

February 20, 2008 by Lightwaves

ydc_1a.jpgThe 38th annual Yoga Development Course (YDC) is in its 7th week of the 3-month process. Each student has unique reasons for taking this step in their lives and is receiving unique answers to their questions. We present interviews with two of the students – James Ward and Rhea Miller.

For James Ward, the YDC is helping him move forward in his life. After studying economics, taking a law degree at Cambridge and articling as a lawyer, he is taking a respite to find out how to merge his spiritual aspirations with his working life.

“When I first came to the Ashram 3 years ago the first thing I recognized was being welcomed in to this community. I was here as a karma yogi and it was challenging, but I was being challenged in a way that allowed me to grow.”

James says he appreciates the opportunities to share and give without expectations, unlike how he describes his working life, which has been, “like an exchange” – labour for wages.

james_2.jpgThe discipline and the structure of the YDC are giving him time to look at things in himself that he would normally pass over. In a recent Kundalini workshop he thought about love and realized, “I don’t know what it means, I thought I knew but I had never really thought about it.”

At 31 James feels he is taking a step into his adult life and the course is helping him understand what makes him act. “I see that there are three doors to moving forward in my life and somehow they come together – fearlessness, giving and fun.”

James plans to stay on after the YDC and integrate what he is learning so he can take his next steps with awareness and confidence.

Rhea Miller’s passion for peace and social justice involved her in many different forms of activism including: the anti nuclear movement in America, assisting refugees from Central and South America, helping to establish a peace camp in Arizona and traveling to the Middle East to support the Palestinian people.

“I’ve always tried to do what ever I do from a spiritual base … I was effective because these things were heartfelt and I was able to articulate the issues,” she said.

Living on Lopez, one of the San Juan Islands of Puget Sound, she was asked to run politically and became one of three County Commissioners for the Island group.

rhea_2.jpg“It was the most deeply spiritual thing I had ever done,” she says, “For a long time I was taking everything personally – I’d walk into a grocery store and it became a political situation. People were either angry with me or lobbying me. It forced me to listen deeply, deeper than the concern or the solution people would bring to me. I had to learn not to respond with anger but not to give up either. It meant staying centered. I wanted to make sure I never shut down my heart.”

In July 2005 she resigned from the position, “Because my energy ran out for that work and I was being pulled in another direction. I like to feel like I am moving towards another situation, rather than moving away from one. It’s a more positive approach.”

She felt she was being pulled to New Zealand and went to live with a female elder from the Waitaha group – the people predating the Maori. Here she helped with proofing and editing for some of their publications.

In October this year some friends took the 10-Day Yoga Intensive at the Ashram and returned home to Lopez to inform her that yoga was about, “letting the Light into your body.” “I never knew what yoga was. It always appeared to be some exercise thing that my body would never do, but when I heard what it really was, I knew I needed yoga!”

Along with developing receptivity to the Light Rhea is gathering some valuable tools to help her stay centered. “I feel I want to fulfill my life’s purpose, but until now I haven’t had good enough tools to do that. The course is giving me what I need.”

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