If you live in Newtown/Enmore, you may have seen a gang of good-looking, inked up, black-clad pirate girls and boys cycling around Enmore Road and King Street on Sundays. Look a little closer and you notice they are all sporting skull and cross-bones. Except instead of cross-bones, it’s a trident and a cane. And on the skull itself, a dolphin and a whale.
They are not violent pirates out to steal your loot, they are what I would call direct action pacifist aggressors from all walks of life whose only commonalities are their shared love of the planet and the billions of holy sea beings who inhabit its waters, as well as courage in spades. For years I have admired the Sea Shepherds and their fearless leader, Captain Paul Watson, from afar but recently they have become firm friends of Jivamukti Yoga Sydney.
Looking from the outside in, you might not think that Jivamukti Yoga teachers and the Sea Shepherds have all that much in common except for the abundance of ink and aversion to pastel clothing. But both groups are inspired by enigmatic anarchists who were many years ahead of their time. In fact, on our main shrine at Jivamukti Yoga Sydney, Captain Paul Watson’s image sits side by side with Sharon Gannon and David Life’s photos and whenever I catch a glimpse of these brave trouble-makers, I am reminded why I practice yoga.
When we practice yoga what we are doing is practicing being as kind and therefore as connected as possible. To practice such radical inclusion that we we have no choice but to feel infinitely expansive (drawing strength from those previously considered ‘others’) instead of powerless.
It is good to join, to yoke with others. This is the path of yoga. And there is no greater feeling than practicing with and teaching people who inspire you. To me, the Sea Shepherds are such people. It’s taken me the whole year to act at least mildly cool when I see these guys come into the centre because I hold them in such high regard. I was so glad when Katie, our director, made the decision to offer the Sea Shepherds complimentary classes because it meant I would get to see them in my ‘home’ on a regular basis.
One of the crew of the Bob Barker, chef Karo Tak, has recently (momentarily) left her very important post cooking meals for her crew to save money for the flights to get to Jivamukti Teacher Training. You can support her by buying her wonderful vegan cookbook at the centre. And get this, Anna, one of our sisters at Jivamukti Sydney, is leaving her teaching gig for a few months to become a chef on the Brigit Bardot as the Sea Shepherds begin Operation Zero Tolerance. If there were any lines drawn between Jivamukti’s rebel alliance with the Sea Shepherds, they have forever been blurred. There’s a donation box for Anna’s flight expenses at our front desk if you care to donate. And if you want to come to water-themed class to farewell Anna, it’s this Sunday 4pm.
There’s something to be said for strength in numbers. When you have people around to support a cause that’s important to you, you are reminded that the cause is bigger than you and therefore bigger than any past insecurities you may have harboured about possibly achieving your goals. The goal of yoga is enlightenment and this can definitely be achieved, perhaps even in this lifetime, with direct and well-supported action.
– this blog post was inspired by Jessica Sage Stickler’s Spiritual Activation workshop and written at Rubyfruit Cafe, Leura.