Shake it up Baby from Sharon Gannon cofounder of Jivamuki Yoga NYC

Focus of the Month Teaching Tips

Shake It Up Baby (Febuary, 2013)

John Lennon sings, “Well shake it up, baby, now twist and shout,
come on, come on, come on, come on baby now, come on and work it on out.”
(from the song “Twist and Shout,” originally written by Phil Medley and Bert Berns, and covered by the Beatles with John Lennon on lead vocals and released on their first album, Please Please Me)

How to use this focus? I would say use it in a very direct way-get people to shake. Shake out their bodies. Encourage uninhibited shaking. Shake off the inhibitions, tameness, domestication, boredom, predictability and normalcy.

Blind-folds could be helpful in allowing people to feel free to move. But let’s keep the focus on shaking and not on dancing in general. I don’t think you should try to lead a trance dance-keep it to shaking. Big shakes, hand shakes, trembling, vibrating.

The goal of Yoga is moksha-liberation, freedom. Through the practices of yoga we can dismantle our present culture and resurrect ourselves as the wild beings we really are! Remember that originally Yoga was a reaction against the increasing urbanization, which was focused on exploiting animals and the earth-taming, enslaving and confining, and in the process we became tamed (estranged from our creative source), enslaved (can’t think for ourselves-no common sense) and confined (can’t move-we are in a head-trip and don’t acknowledge the body from the neck down as intelligent).

The teacher could point out the perhaps not so obvious facts about “confinement” and how normal it is in our culture. As we have tamed, enslaved, domesticated animals we ourselves have lost our ability to explore the fuller potential of movement experience in our own bodies. Our bodies have become heavy and in many cases, modern people feel imprisoned in their bodies. This often leads to unhealthy entertainment just to feel some kind of stimulation, which can play out in becoming a couch potato-sitting and watching other people live out their lives on television or movies or on You-Tube, etc. Feeling imprisoned in your body can also lead to other types of unhealthy activities like gluttony-drinking and eating too much, which then in-turn causes the person to become more and more immobilized-and easily seek immediate gratification from shopping. Have you ever seen obese people, who are unable to walk very well, sitting in motorized carts, navigating their way through huge shopping malls on a quest to buy stuff?

The teacher could do some research to discover ways where wild, ecstatic, physical experience was replaced by predicable rituals and routine ceremonies in many spiritual and religious traditions-the result being far from an ecstatic religious experience of feeling one’s reconnection to all of life. At one time ecstatic experience was considered the religious experience and it was encouraged. I am thinking of Christianity and Buddhism, where at one time actual physical means were embraced to feel magic and be moved by the spirit within. I am thinking of the Shamans of the Bon religion-an early form of Tibetan Buddhism and of course the shaking of the early Quakers (hence their name), speaking in tongues and spontaneous physical take over of spirit forms in many forms of Christianity. But now everything has been put inside a box-a big box called a Church or temple-it has all become housed and the keys to the house given into the hands of appointed authorities. But there must still be some communities where shaking is alive-like among the Zulus and Kalahari bushman in Africa, Siberian shamans, and how about the Quakers? -anyway many of us may want to investigate this further during this month.

I don’t think that any of us want yoga to become just another form of entertainment for bored members of a culture who just want to find another way to estrange themselves from the natural world. Jivamukti Yoga, after all is known as the wild-child of yoga-I hope we can continue to explore the wild.

I know that with a whole month of shaking, we will at least feel a bit better as we loosen up and let go of things we don’t need. It is in the letting go (shaking off) of what we don’t need that healing begins

~Sharon Gannon

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