December 6 is Canada's National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women
On December 6, 1989, 13 female students and a female administrator at l'École Polytechnique de Montréal were murdered because of their gender. The gunman ordered the women to one side of the classroom, and instructed the men to leave. After claiming that he was "fighting feminism" he began killing.
WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH YOGA OR TANGO OR MARRIAGE?
I teach men and couples the way I do —whether it's yoga or tango or couples' retreats— because I know how easily we, as men (and women), can turn our fear into violence. I've known it in my own body. In my own extended family. In my workplace. In the larger culture. And yes, on December 6, 1989, many of us registered this in the larger culture.
When I invite you —masculine or feminine-identified— to sit or stand "in your allignment" I'm inviting you to step outside the "fight, flight, freeze" response that leads so easily to violence and victimhood.
When I invite you to breathe into your belly, down into your "lower triangle" and up into your heart and throat, I'm inviting you to step outside the cycle of violence that all too easily becomes a habit.
That violence may be obvious: physical, or words.
That violence may be subtle: a gesture, a closing of the body, a turning away.
I teach the way I do because I want my students and clients to begin to notice how you are closing yourselves, or opening yourselves. There is always a risk in opening. There is also a risk in closing.
OPENING & CLOSING
You may have heard me quote one of my teachers, David Deida, when he says, There is nothing but opening and closing.
What we risk in opening —at least in the yoga or dance studio, as well as the retreat space— is failure or humiliation or rejection. What I can tell you is that your ego is built to take this risk, and that with my support you will begin to feel the elegance and the love that already is within you.
What we risk in closing —and again, I speak now of the studio and the retreat space, not your home or your workplace or the streets in your community— is connection to ourselves as capable of love, capable of creative expression. Without that connection, we whither, spiritually, emotionally, and physically.
I teach the way I do because I've learned, often through painful experience, that —at least in the studio and the retreat space— the reward of opening is always so much greater than the risk of opening. If you trust your teacher to create and hold the safe space for you, I encourage you to take the risk.
Attend to your posture. Wherever you are in your day, but especially with those you love, and in the studio or retreat space.
Attend to your breath. Always.
YOU HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY TO BE SAFE
For yourself, and for others. Don't take risks unwarranted. Test. Notice, above all, how your body feels in situations and spaces.
We are not all the same, as teachers. Some of us are not trustworthy. I may not be a fit for you. I don't take this personally. I have many things to learn about the creation and holding of safe spaces. It's on-going work. For me, for every one of you. For me, I believe it's my life's work. But I am willing to open to it. It is the most beautiful and gratifying work.
So, as a student of yoga or dance or couples' practice or men's work, I invite you to open. Cautiously. Feel your edge. Breathe into it. Begin to make the beautiful art of your love and your life that yearns to be expressed and experienced.
This is our work. As a dancer. As a husband or wife or lover. As a friend or colleague. As a mother or father or grandparent. As a neighbour. Our posture and our breath opens us to be the deepest expression of ourselves. The world needs this.
And on December 6 I am reminded just how much our world needs this, needs those of us who are beginning to open.
ps. For those of you who are in the 2023 Yoga+Tango for Lovers program, I look forward to seeing you at 5:45pm on Thursday, Dec 7.
For those of you who are part of the current couples' or singles mini-retreat series, please feel welcome to join us on Thursday. You will find some of it familiar, some of it new. No matter. I invite you to open up to the experience. (\
Drop-in rates apply online or in-person, for Thursday, December 7.