Kinship: Collectivizing and Carrying the Torch Forward
Tumbleweed Sanctuary Garden & Labyrinth
57889 Pueblo Trail, Yucca Valley, CA 92284, USA
We find ourselves at the crux of an important and pivotal moment in the consciousness of our world, the planet Earth, and also in our relationship to yoga practices, discipline, optimism, history, truth, guru cultures, and how we human animals share time together. We are in a process of individually and communally soul searching - as Ashtanga Yoga practitioners in particular but also more broadly as contemplative practitioners and spiritual seekers.
So we summon you to join us in a desert gathering of yogis. This is a moment when we have a fertile opportunity to:
examine the essence of the practice (a regular, dedicated and contemplative yoga practice)
explore tradition, lineage and adaptation
contemplate the ways in which time changes our relationship to practice
communally look at the role of the teacher, the student, authority and hierarchy
place ourselves in a global and temporal context
consider what kind of a community we want to be a part of and co-create, grow and learn from
and to more firmly grasp how we evolve: what we leave behind; what we respectfully break from or stay with; and what we carry forward with meaning and grace
Throughout this weekend-long gathering we will remind ourselves of the beauty of yoga practice, and the poetry of a daily rhythm. We will do this through asana, breathwork, guided meditation, talks, facilitated conversation and ritual.
We have invited An Olive Branch to facilitate throughout the weekend and bring their expertise on the student-teacher relationship in spiritual disciplines, and to facilitate a listening circle - an open conversation time that allows each person to say what’s on their mind. This, we hope, might lead us towards a clearer understanding of what this time requires, and perhaps down the road towards a code of conduct, and grievance procedure, so that contemporary yoga-related practices in general—and Ashtanga Yoga traditions in particular—can continue to be a place of refuge for us and our students.
Ashtanga Yoga (and those of us who find ourselves practicing) have always been a bit rebellious, anarchic even. Some call the movement punk rock. We don’t want that to change. We do want it to be a refuge. And we want to hold space for all of it. We will show up. We will sit in the discomfort. We will let wisdom run through us. We will explore what it means to be spiritual practitioners in a post-Guru culture.
Let’s hold the paradoxes, and a new paradigm.
We, Erica and Spiro, look forward to sharing in time together soon.
We are calling this gathering for a few reasons, amongst them the #metoo movement, and the power imbalances it brought into relief; and also the rise of authoritarianism we’re seeing in our governments, on social media, and therefore inevitably playing out on our yoga mats.
We’ve been asked and been asking about the role of altars & adjustments, about self-care, grief, cultural specificity, trauma and abuse. And after years of questioning we (Erica and Spiro) are both still practicing, still teaching, still showing up. Perhaps you are too.
Is this a #metoo gathering?
No. However, #metoo as a global movement did bring some larger issues into relief, and perhaps made this gathering possible, and also necessary.
Globally, and more broadly, absurd, frightening and disheartening news in the world cascades across our screens; fundamental issues of human rights are being threatened and abused; the rise of authoritarianism globally becomes louder and more cruel; disrespect of our shared human dignity based upon gender, creed, and financial status; the abuse of power is rampant—we wonder how this applies to our yoga practice. When we see aspects of these tendencies rise up within our spiritual communities, within our yoga world, the feelings can be devastating. And we want to gather to re-imagine a way forward.
Tell me more about An Olive Branch and their role?
We have invited an Olive Branch to help us facilitate because they are a neutral third party that brings professionalism, experience, compassion and wisdom to spiritual communities. They have helped us contextualize this moment in Ashtanga Yoga's history and see that the veil was bound to fall. These growing pains are normal. We are thankful for their guidance as we navigate our way forward. Their role, according to their website:
"We help spiritual communities proactively reduce the impact of destructive discord by providing training on ethics, policies, governance best practices, and conflict resolution.
We also stand ready to help spiritual communities as they react to the suffering, chaos, and breakdown that results from ethical misconduct. We provide processes for healing and restoring harmony.
An Olive Branch brings the calming influence of a neutral third party, inspired by the tradition of Buddhist teaching that stretches over 2500 years." Learn more about them at: https://www.an-olive-branch.org/
Do I have to know what I think about all of this to attend the gathering?
No. This is the start of a conversation. Come as you are, open to listen, to share, to learn and grow.
Do I have to be a teacher?
Do I have to be an Ashtanga Yoga practitioner?
No. Some relationship to the practice will help to contextualize the experience and help us all co-create a meaningful container for conversation. Perhaps you used to practice Ashtanga Yoga? Maybe you have a sitting practice? Maybe you knit? Or rock climb? Come. This is a space to discuss practice, community and ethics.
Can I participate even if I can’t make it for the weekend?
Yes. We will create an opportunity for people who can't attend the weekend gathering to send in their comments, concerns, and questions and have their voices read/heard.
Will the sessions be recorded? If so, how will they be used?
We will record lectures and intend to take some video and photos throughout the weekend for both posterity, and also to aid us in designing future gatherings. However we will hold strict boundaries around any facilitated, structured conversation, treating these with the utmost sanctity and privacy. We want this to be a space where people are free to express themselves without fear of retribution or backlash. An Olive Branch will help us to set ground rules and ensure a safe container for all.
What will the schedule look like?
You can expect a weekend full of community, practice (in various forms) and conversation. There will be opportunities for silence, for movement, for stillness, for conversation, for ritual and for writing. There will be structure. There will also be downtime. You can expect to walk away with tools for carrying this yoga torch forward. Once you register you will be invited to a Slack channel where we will post the schedule as that takes shape.
What are the intended outcomes of this gathering?
We aim for everyone in attendance to walk away with the tools for carrying this Ashtanga Yoga torch forward, as students, teachers, and compassionate, concerned beings. We will also work towards a code of conduct and grievance procedure, although this will likely be a process that continues after the close of the weekend.
How much does it cost?
We are creating this container for community and conversation - we are not seeking a profit. However we are hoping to cover our costs for the weekend. We are asking for a deposit of $108 to reserve your space, and in November we will ask for a second sliding scale payment between $108 and $216.
There are also spots open for work-trade. If you would like to apply; please place your deposit of $108 and email us to let us know why you’re interested, confirm whether or not you are able to help throughout the entirety of the weekend, and indicate your preference to help in one of four categories which you'll be prompted to answer at checkout.
*If the above options are out of your financial reach, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know why you're interested in the gathering and a little more about your situation.
What does the cost include?
Your registration includes all activities, talks, and events throughout the weekend as well as dinner on Friday, breakfast and lunch on Saturday, and a sendoff breakfast on Sunday, as well as tea throughout.
What does the cost not include?
You will be responsible for your own accommodations, however we can and would love to help you secure those.
How can I find out more about where to stay, eat, etc?
Upon registering you will be invited to join our Slack group with channels that will steer you towards places to stay, visit, eat and explore during your time in the Southern California desert, as well as carpooling opportunities for those coming from afar. This is also where we will announce updates to the weekend's schedule as that takes shape.