A few years ago, before the winter solstice, as the days grew darker and shorter, I began to notice how my attention shifted to the “dark” areas of my life. I came to realize was that the practice of yoga can ultimately have the potential to set us yogis apart from others by virtue of the fact that we willingly address the untamed, secret and unmentionable parts of our own humanity through the awakening of our unconscious self through consistent diligent practice.
At times I see an idea in the yoga community that by just raising awareness we can become better, but knowledge of this awareness is only powerful when we take some sort of action. And yoga, as Krishna teaches, being the path of action invites us to not just become aware of these aspects, but to also taken action in them. “Arjuna, shed your fear and stand up and fight.”
The deeper I venture into the practice of yoga, I find that I can no longer just dwell on the so-called uplifting stuff but that I must look at the darker side of my being as well. While I generally have a positive outlook and a deep sense of shanti, many times I don’t feel filled with light and goodwill. Anger arises from old resentments, misdirected sexual energy, dormant longings and desires.
Gandhi once said, “The real battle I face is within myself.” This is a mantra that echoes in my mind as I struggle to find my authentic self while dancing on the line of what is acceptable and what is not. I believe that yoga is not for those people who pretend to be perfect. Too many of us look to change the world through pretending to be “nice yogi’s” and in the process, we don’t work on ourselves. Yoga is truly for those who are fearlessly ready to venture into the dark.
The world desperately needs all of us yogis. And while the world needs you, it doesn’t need you to continue to pretend to be a good yogi. It needs you to be strong and courageous to see face the darkness and dirty aspects within yourself.
Yogi Aaron, author of “Autobiography of a Naked Yogi”, brings passion and adventure to his teaching. Inspired, he guides students to secret and far-flung locales, empowers them to realize their own limitless potential, and makes yoga relevant and accessible for the modern world. Since 2002 he has been traveling and leading retreats worldwide and currently serves as the yoga director at Blue Osa Yoga Retreat + Spa in Costa Rica. Follow Yogi Aaron on Facebook.