Lineage Matters: New Year, New You

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Lineage matters.

Unlike many yoga teachers, I have no satisfying, relatable “before and after story”. I didn’t leave corporate with a spiritual awakening. I didn’t leave a marriage to find myself. I have only, always been on this path. An outlier, seer and tenacious student of yoga.

It has placed me at the seat of many influential teachers in my lifetime and it’s safe to say Devoted Yogi is far more a ‘calling’ or spiritual assignment than a business.

I don’t profess to have all the answers, in fact - I have mostly questions.

In 2019, I am keeping a strong hold on my lineage and my own sadhana (practice devoted to seeing truth). I know this will make the work more expansive and illuminating for those that wish to continue to practice at Devoted Yogi and I know others will carry on in other ways.

And all of it is perfectly in order.

Recently, I have been guided to share with you my entry to yoga and why walking in a Beauty Way remains my contract in this lifetime. I hope this story serves to awaken the latent memories in you - as to why you are here and how naturally life is designed to unfold when we aren’t trying to control it.

This is what I have been guided to share…

I was 19 when I met Gilbert Walking Bull.

I remember he was kind, had expressive hands and with spoke with great humor. His songs rattled through me as I sweat in the moldy, wet lodge and he coughed in intervals between thundering prayerful rounds. He and others showed me how to tie prayers, in proper form and color.

We gathered in very traditional Lakota Sweat lodge, women and men separated and guided by elders. I only sat in lodge with him 3 times with the Inipi Society and the Wilderness Awareness School as he was back and forth between South Dakota and the site. Over the course of five years I participated in over 30 lodges, in all seasons - lead by those he taught, doing their best to hang on to tradition. It is where I remembered how to live and breath and sweat my prayers.

I learned to see, and listen to my intuition DEEPLY.

I was there for the lodge immediately following his death and remember he came to me in dreams soon after with a crow’s claw gift.

Since my time at the Wilderness School I have remained devoted to ‘seeing with native eyes’. To ‘see with native eyes’ - as I have been taught - is to come out of the cultural conditions and attachments that act like blinders to the BEAUTY of life’s unfoldment, to raw, wild natural order - and truthfulness. To awaken, to truly take in my present. (I am of course - still working on it.)

This is what the East Indian teachers and Native American elders in my life share in common. A commitment to being deeply present and truthful about what we see.

Yoga is the indigenous art and science of being human - and waking up.

It promotes a value for natural order, for strength and discipline and the heroic necessity of remaining in good spirit - regardless of the sufferings of life. For without that commitment our vision tunnels and we become as the the Navajo put it “white man or one who struggles”. Yes, in the west, we have a history of struggling with ourselves and projecting or inflicting that struggle upon others. We loose touch with the true warrior within.

We have learned to view “success” as how much one has and our ability to “make things happen” is valued most (aka. The ‘American Dream’, the nuclear family, the ivy league education). We have both privilege and confusion.

In many native cultures WHAT YOU GAVE was everything. It was the measure of your belonging, contribution and success as a human being.

Your relations mattered. Your truthfulness with self, others and all of life - mattered deeply.

Without this truthfulness - all the movements of yoga just further our perpetual activity.

With understanding - those same movements create an interior wholeness, a union.

In our present time culture, seeing another's vulnerability has become a terrifying thing that we don’t want to see because it makes us feel lacking of control or lacking in the capacity to help. Seeing our own vulnerability has become a nuisance, a hindrance to getting things done that create ‘having more’.

But being vulnerable is part of assimilating the truth of our existence. We are inter-connected beings.

Swamiji used to say we crucify ourselves along lines of time and space - applying effort without wisdom.

In chasing attachments, people, even fitness or postures - we embed ourselves in an illusion that keeps us from really loving and being loved.

We fear the past and future - and in doing so - miss out on the the present. I will be asking students to place trust in the practice in 2019.

I am actively participating in re-creating myself, my business and life to align with what I know to be the most practical, spiritual and evolutionary aspects of yoga in 2019. And guess what. It’s vulnerable and scary. I know it wont be appreciated or liked by all, and still I stand in clarity - with a vision to maintain tradition and blend it with the truth of my intuition.

Returning yoga from a postural science to a relational science is our goal - to re-establish connection where it serves us most: with our very own cells and the Self within those cells. Every movement has the capacity to strengthen us, enrich us and integrate body-mind-spirit.

Often times we need more direct teaching to find the alignments that truly shift our lives and unconscious patterns of movement.

I go to my teachers and allow them to see me, see for me and in doing so go WELL beyond my perceived limitations.

My yogic lineage is through Swami Tattvavidananda, Swami Vagishananda and Swami Dayananda Saraswati. They teach Advaita Vedanta (non-duality) and spend their lives unfolding carefully with language the cognitive insights that lead to realization of the self, god and the world - as they really are: non-separate.

I have found yogic teachings echo the native teachings of my earlier years and reach further still - into the recesses of the mind - where ‘struggle’ lives and breeds.

We are a lost culture, making it up as we go. And in these times, more than ever - lineage matters.

As a way to create more traditional, powerful relationship between teacher and student we are no longer taking drop-in students at Devoted Yogi. A practice with balance, beauty and connection at its core.

On this day of December 26, 2018 I share with deep reverence for my teachers, guides and students for being sacred mirrors of awakening and love. It is my hearts joy to begin teaching in a new way, a sustainable and simplified way in 2019 for the benefit of all living beings, and all my relations.

We will no doubt - sweat, train (body and mind) and commune. I invite you along for the ride/rise.

Thank you and see the website for ways to practice, retreat and study.


Jenna McDonald