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Radha's Warrior

October 27, 2009 by Michael McCarthy

MichaelMichael McCarthy is a Radha Yoga teacher who has been teaching yoga to youth at risk in Ottawa over the last two years.  Here he shares his enthusiasm, from the perspective of a young man, and his warrior-like stand for Radha’s teachings.

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3 out of 36. That’s how many men were in the 2007 Yoga Development Course. I was one of them. We were told that this was a fairly normal ratio for the past few years. Needless to say, I learned a lot about my feminine side. But this yogic path has really allowed me to get to know my masculine side too.


Kuan Yin, Goddess of Compassion, by Michael McCarthy

On the surface Yasodhara Ashram is a very feminine place. Visitors are greeted by statues of Divine Mother in many forms, the number of women are always greater than men, a woman is the spiritual director, the hatha is very gentle and intuitive, even the land seems to hold you in a way a nursing mother would. But for those who are on the path of Radha Yoga they know that the teachings are more than just what’s on the surface. We all contain within us the masculine and the feminine: both sides offering their tools and their limitations. Both are needed. It is the path of yoga that calls us to rise to our fullest potential, embracing our whole selves.

That being said, I couldn’t help but feel like I had lost contact with my masculine side. This was reflected to me when I moved to Ottawa and joined a Radha community in which I was one of two men. I loved the fact that I had cultivated my feminine side, but something was missing.


I had moved to Ottawa after two years at Yasodhara to teach yoga to youth at risk through the Radha Yoga Youth Outreach (RYYO) program. The work was very inspiring but also quite draining. Long bus rides, late classes, and not too many men in my life all added up to me feeling vulnerable, soft, even under attack from some hidden force. This was a force I was all to familiar with, it was that of my own negativity, judgment and self loathing. At times this force would come by surprise, at other times I could see it coming (thanks to my yogic vision). No matter how I looked at it, I felt like I was at the centre of a battle. And in the midst of the wreckage that was becoming my mind, an epiphany occurred. Not unlike Arjuna’s in the Mahabharata, I had to fight. I had to fight for what I knew worked, the only thing that could save me from my own mind – Light. This is when I realized that I had to be a warrior.

Being at the ashram felt safe to me. I was supported, loved, and my own cultivation of light was mirrored in those around me. I was looking after my own spiritual baby in the safest of conditions. Coming to Ottawa I was faced with the jackals and vultures of my own mind, reflected to me in the anger, violence, depression, and neglect that pervades our culture. I soon learned that if my spiritual baby was going to survive, I would have to fight and defend it. I had to travel deep inside of myself and ask an out-of-work warrior to put his armor back on, sharpen his sword and defend this precious gift I had found at Yasodhara.

Michael-classI noticed that I came into an area of clarity within myself and what I was offering to the young men I was serving. The spiritual baby in me was representative of the teachings of Swami Radha, and I wanted to share this with them. My warrior came forward and told these young men about the precious gift I was going to offer. My warrior also had the strength to create and defend boundaries that would protect this spiritual baby. I spoke with knife-like clarity and purpose, delivering a message that was simple and sweet, and they listened.

Meeting other Radha teachers at this year’s AGM (watch Michael speak at this summers meetings), I wanted to share with them the same clarity and confidence I had found through my own warrior. Most teachers seemed to be talking about a ‘coming out of the closet’ as Radha Yogis and Yoginis. There was a bubbling sense of pride in our lineage, in Swami Radha’s teachings and in what Yasodhara Ashram stands for. We all have created something precious in our lives, something that is too good not to share with others, but something that also needs cultivation. Only we can know for ourselves what we need to cultivate while protecting our spiritual babies. For me, this is where the inner warrior has proved invaluable. He is the one that can tell potential schools the exact needs I have for a class; he is the one that can face a room of teenagers and meet them fearlessly; he is the one in service of the most high. Do you know that warrior too?

Yasodhara Ashram will be hosting the Yoga Development Course from January 9 – April 9, 2010. For more information you may call 1-800-661-8711, view our online course catalogue, or email samayananda@yasodhara.org. To join the event on Facebook, click here.


  1. Beautiful story, Michael. This has really inspired me for the day.

    Comment by At a book store — October 28, 2009 @ 4:53 am

  2. Beautifully and clearly said, Michael. Thank you.

    Comment by Swami Samayananda — October 28, 2009 @ 12:19 pm

  3. Thanks Michael. What a lovely testimonial to your victory on the battlefield of life. I’m so grateful to have been a part of it!

    Comment by Joan Gamble — October 30, 2009 @ 2:21 pm

  4. Thank you,Michael, for being a beacon of Light for other young men and for showing me how the masculine and the feminine can co-exist and support one another.

    Comment by Anne Churchill — November 4, 2009 @ 9:02 pm

  5. Michael:
    A year ago I came back to México.
    Just a month ago I decided to settle down -stop traveling for a while- in Mexico City.

    This month has been extremely challenging. I feel vulnerable, I feel fragile, I experience anguish facing this City, its ever present rush, stress, hurry, etc. I have been feeling depressed and confused.
    Reading your article today gave me mirror-like reflections to bring into my own experience.

    Just as it used to happen in our thursday class listening to others experiences, today you gave me a good clue to explore.
    Thank you my brother.
    Love n Light

    Comment by Jose Ivan — November 6, 2009 @ 11:03 pm

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