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Lately, I've come to think of what I teach as "householder yoga". What's a householder? You are. If you're reading this on a computer, chances are good you own a laptop or at the very least chose to go to the library. You're definitely not living in a cave, smeared in ashes, wearing a loincloth. "Householder" is a traditional Indian term for a person who juggles the cares of family, work, love, food, joy, and suffering over the course of a normal life. A householder is a person who finds her spirituality in the mundanity of her regular life.

"Hey, that's pretty much what I do. What's the big deal?" you may be thinking. And right you are! Deeply engaging the world in which you live is not a new idea for many of us. However, throughout the history of yoga (right up to this very moment in America), most yogins have been more oriented toward the tradition of the "renunciate yogin", so named because s/he "renounces" the world and the experience of human life as an unfortunate spin of the wheel of karma. Not merely in many types of yoga, but also in many well-known philosophies like Buddhism, the goal of practice is to get off that wheel, to escape the "curse" of human life through what Buddhists call "nirvana" and yogins call "samadhi".

My suburban yoga students and I have families to love and bills to pay. We take joy in life's simple pleasures. We know that to deeply engage this world brings pain (either physical, as in illness, or psychological), but we would never reject our humanity in order to escape suffering. Rather, we seek a yoga practice that celebrates our ability to love, relate, care for our families, be productive, and create meaning. We prefer a yoga philosophy that acknowledges that anger, loss, despair, and even violence and hatred are part of the human experience, and that our task as yogins is to engage them as skillfully as we can.

I believe our yoga should serve our lives, not vice versa.x ~

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© 2013 Emma Magenta • Emma Magenta • Yoga Teacher