MLK: Honoring a Great Yogi

On Monday, January 15th, 2018, Americans and people across the world will partake in festivities celebrating the life, legacy, and loving sacrifice of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.– a man who brought hope and healing to the world.

On this holiday, St. Louis is prepared to do its fair share of commemorating the unconditional love, forgiveness, and nonviolence that embodied Dr. King’s revolutionary spirit through a plethora of scheduled events.

There is the annual MLK parade hosted by The Urban League, UMSL’s annual day of service event, Washington University’s annual MLK lecture series, and a host of other events including the first ever yoga flow honoring the life of MLK. After all, MLK was a great yogi!

Yep, I said it– Yogi.

yoga buzz st louis alonzo nelson black yoga Martin Luther king jrIf you were to do a Google search, which I tried, you will not find pictures of Dr. King in Adho Mukha Svanasana or downward facing dog pose nor would you find pictures of him in Bakāsana or crow pose, yet I still stand by my claim that Dr. King was a great yogi.

Where is the proof you ask? Look no further than the yamas and niyamas, the first of Patañjali’s Eight Limbs of Yoga (and the two steps before even getting to asana, or physical practice). The yamas and niyamas serve as the ethical and moral code of conduct of how one should live their life. It is without coincidence that the first of these guidelines is Ahimsa. Ahimsa, often translated to mean “to cause no harm or nonviolence” is the foundation for which all the other guidelines are built. Practicing Ahimsa is to live in such a way that one causes no harm in thought, speech, or action to any living being, including one’s self.

To be very clear, AHIMA or nonviolence is not for the cowardly, the weak, the passive, the apathetic, or the fearful.

Dr. King personified this way of life. In the face of racism, oppression, and pure hatred, Dr. King embodied the deepest philosophical meaning of Ahimsa.  Dr. King once said, “nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him,” Ahimsa!

To be very clear, Ahimsa or nonviolence is not for the cowardly, the weak, the passive, the apathetic, or the fearful; “Nonviolent resistance does resist,”  “It is not a method of stagnant passivity. The method is passive physically, but strongly active spiritually. It is not passive non-resistance to evil; it is active nonviolent resistance to evil”, Dr. King wrote. In other words, according to Swami Kriyananda, “Ahimsa, rightly understood, is the ultimate weapon”.

As we prepare to celebrate what would have been Dr. King’s 89th birthday, a new group of yogis, “The Collective”, will host: Ahimsa: Practicing the art of nonviolence yoga flow. This donation-based yoga class will be held Monday January 15, 2018, at 3:00pm at Mindful Movements (1400 N 14th Street, Old North St. Louis). In the true spirit of Dr. King, all are welcome.

For more information and to RSVP, please visit AHIMSA.

Guest post written by Dr. Terry Harris, Yoga Buzz teacher training graduate.  View the full interview with Alonzo Nelson and Dr. Terry Harris (one-third of The Collective) below to learn more about their journey into yoga, becoming a yoga teacher, The Collective, and their upcoming event)

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