Power gets a pretty bad rep, but it really depends on the kind of power we're talking about. I'm currently listening to two books, Brene Brown's Atlas of the Heart and David Remnick's Lenin's Tomb. Two books about the very different kinds of power.
Brene talks often about Power in her talks and books. "What makes power dangerous is how it’s used." She says in her handout for Dare to Lead. "Power over is driven by fear." That's the kind we tend to hear about most and the kind that we see in dictators and totalitarian regimes.
"Daring and transformative leaders share power with, empower people to, and inspire people to develop power within."
This happens all the time, but we seem to see it talked about less in the media. I believe that people in numbers have incredible power and many of the movements I see happening online and in social media these days help me to see this in terms of what products, people and companies people want to support, listen to and spend their money on. I see it when thousands of people choose to donate to a charity or a cause - or indeed when they choose not to. If we all had the insight, clarity and confidence to take action on the things we believe in, we could change the world without having to participate in any kind of violence whatsoever.
In so many different ways, Yoga and Buddhism is about self-empowerment. Having the courage to really look at how things are and seeing clearly what you have power over and what you don't is liberating and extremely useful in difficult times. When we learn to be mindful, compassionate and discerning (cutting through bullshit), we are able to act in the right way at the right time.
I bet when you saw this title, you thought it was going to be about a whole different thing. And yes, many people have used yoga classes as ways to have power over people and then abuse that power. Anyone who gives you a feeling that they have power over you is abusing their relationship with you - whether in a romantic relationship, in a workplace or in a yoga class.
Everything is already there for you to use to reach your own sense of peace, purpose and empowerment in life, without handing your power over to someone else to do it for you.
Learning to feel the breathe, to flow with it and to be in the present moment is how we cultivate these things. We do it in every yoga asana class. And I believe that with every conscious breath and compassionate thought, we're changing the whole world by changing ourselves.
This month in class, our theme is power. We'll be practising the Power Sequence, we'll be feeling where our power is and how to use it for good. And together, we'll change the world (it might take another few eons of time, but we have to start somewhere and to start right where we are.
Join a class at www.vhairislavenyoga.com/book
Practice in your own time - www.vhairislavenyoga.com/ondemand