‘The Freedom To Be Bound…’

My yoga teacher says this just as I’m balancing in Bound Ardha-Chandrasana, one hand reaching for my back foot as I balance and struggle.  I don’t feel very free!  Annoyingly, a bead of sweat rolls off my nose onto my mat in a splat that seems to mock my predicament.  BoundArdha2

We ARE doing yoga in SOMA after all he jokes.


SOMA is the San Francisco neighborhood once known as a spot where gay and leather communities thrived -home to the  Folsom Street Fair and the Cat Club.

More recently it is defined as being a part of the gentrification that is Twitter, Zynga and Dropbox but the people who live there hold onto its roots.  ( Wicked Grounds is still known as SOMA’s best coffee shop!)

The comparison isn’t too off-mark.  Yoga and bondage have a similarity.

As Swami Vivekananda explained:

Bondage and liberty, light and shadow, good and evil must be there, but the very fact of the bondage shows also this freedom hidden there.

If one is a fact, the other is equally a fact.

There must be this idea of freedom.

While now we cannot see that this idea of bondage, in uncultivated man, is his struggle for freedom, yet the idea of freedom is there.

Ironically this concept of domination and submission came up during cocktails the night before.  A friend of mine had received an invitation to the Armory and was shocked to find that I’d taught yoga there in the past.  I felt obligated to explain myself and my confidence that yoga belongs there as much as anywhere else.  My friend is pretty hip so he didn’t judge so we moved on to every San Franciscan’s favorite topic of high rents.  I’d almost forgotten of our brief talk until this morning.

It was only in yoga today that I realized the similarity and the lesson.

LatexBoundYogaBy willingly putting ourselves into poses where we are bound-we expose ourselves,

By contorting and twisting willingly into an asana that creates effort and strain-we practice trust in our capabilities.

By taking the risk to fall or collapse (or worse, make a fool of ourselves)-we disempower the shackles we bind ourselves with.

There is no bondage like maya (illusion)
There is no power (balam) higher than Yoga
There is not a friend greater than jnanam (knowledge/wisdom)
There is no enemy worse than ego (ahamkara)

While my beloved yoga studio may be moving from SOMA and the unique culture there-the lesson remains the same.

If we recognize that we are the ones in control, we are the ones who are strong enough to be vulnerable then maybe we are freeing ourselves from the grip of our own ego.

Sounds like freedom to me.

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