Heart Hour at the Labyrinth...
Divine Yurt ::: BE Yoga
I sit down with Gita, creator of BE Yoga and Gita's Dream Kirtan, the smell of incense flowing as I enter her home lit by warm light and plants beaming from the corner. Her daughters' cheerful giggles and beating drum build the noise in the background while we sit cross-legged on the sofa and chat about being the odd one out in our family & locality, not sacrificing your truth even in the midst of rejection, and building a community establishment all in the way of spreading light. 🌱:::::
>A community in the suburban North of Virginia called Sterling. "BE yoga is a community where people gather together to better their body, mind, and spirit through yoga classes for adults, kids, and children with special needs, meditation, kirtan, karma yoga, potlucks, yoga philosophy, movie screenings and more."
Gita: I grew up in Ohio, so very conservative mid-west, I grew up in a Methodist church which thankfully is a 'Jesus loves you' kind of church but I remember even as early as 6, questioning; doubting and not feeling comfortable with that belief system. I think it was about 4th grade I felt really bad about joining the church because I knew I didn't believe in it.
Zahra: As early as 4th grade you already knew you you didn't believe in the church?
Gita: Oh yeah, and I always refused to take communion because I thought it was unfair to the people that really believe in it, I thought it would be sacrilegious. So I was very conscientious of that. My mom made me go, I had no choice. But I loved singing and the community service, but even in high school I sat down and told my mom flat out 'I don't believe in this, this is not my thing I don't want to go to church' but she pretty much said until you leave my house you go to church so I did it until I was in college and that was the end of that. Yet, I was a huge part of the youth group and at one point I encouraged and we did go to the Mosque, the Hindu temple, check out the Christ scientist, the Baptist church, because I was still searching but none of it really resonated with me and I felt at that point well I must be an atheist so I lived as an atheist for a long time. When I start yoga it was an asana thing, as something that healed me and helped my body feel better but it brought me to this, and no my mom doesn't even like to say the word 'yoga' and we haven't ever talked about it because I know she doesn't feel comfortable with it. Once I gave her a book that really touched me, it was about Ghandi, short little quotes and things about Ghandi and she said "I don't want to read that, he's not Christian." And I was like he is a Christian, he is a Hindu, he is a Muslim, he recognizes all those faiths as valid and she said "I don't want to read that".
Zahra: So how did you deal with that, in that moment when you are met with such strong adversity when you are trying to reach some middle ground and the other person puts up this wall, this barrier to understanding?
Gita: I came out me, and of course I always kind of wanted to be like everybody else but I also had no problem standing up for what I believed in. So, when I went to a school where the kids were wearing Polo shirts and Guess jeans, not only could I not afford it but I wanted to wear my own Tye-dyed shirts and my long broomstick dress when mini denim skirts were "in". And I wore clogs before anybody had seen them in 20 years again, and I wore Birkenstocks before they came back, and I wore my hair in braids and buns; they called me granny! because it was the 80s and 90s when people wore big pouffy hair was "in" it was the 80s and 90s. As much as I wanted to fit in, I always held true to who I was, even when my friends were drinking and partying, if I didn't want to do something I didn't. Peer pressure didn't really have any effect on me.
Zahra: So you allowed the adversity to solidify your Self, and strengthen your character.
Gita: This May will be our three years, and having taught hatha yoga for 13-14 years now...people are coming for the kirtan, and more chanting, more mantra...so I always tried to follow where that energy went. Its really about holding space for people to reach the divine to connect with themselves, in the practice of yoga you first start with your own body because we live neck up in or bodies, like our bodies are just vehicles for moving our head around, unless its sick or injured or not treating us well THEN we pay attention to it. So FIRST you connect with your own body, then with your own spirit and then with the divine- that's what yoga IS! The whole practice of yoga were all so you can sit better and clearer and calmer to have that connection [with the divine] so that's what we do at the yurt we hold space for people to reach all those levels. Some people stay an some people go, everybody gets benefit from whatever path they have.
Zahra: What do you do to gain clarity in moments where you might be confused?
Gita: Practice is important, whatever that is for you. Different people respond to different practices, whether they need to do asanas to get junk out of their bodies, there is pranayama, meditation, chanting, pujas, fire ceremonies, intentions, gratitude list, journaling, there are millions of ways but what you need to find are those things that allow you to clear your junk. So when you were chanting, that is what you were feeling, the clearing, that kriya...that cleansing. Figuring out what you need to do to clear that space which will make your connection clearer and stronger so that when you are being guided you will see it and you will be guided. When there is more space, there is more space for your dharma, your point and reason for being here. For some people though their whole practice in life ends up being trying to figure out what their dharma is. Once you know what that [dharma] is things become really really clear, because everything you do, every tiny thing you do, you refer back to is this serving this point [dharma] or not? Everything is in honor of that service, that point, that dharma. Everything! Whether it be, 'should I buy this thing at the store'? You can turn your whole life into serving that, and then everything becomes so much clearer. And if you are not in that state, practice, keep one part of your practice consistent so you always have that comfort and that base and that reminder of what you do know. You ask yourself with every action, will this get me closer to that [your purpose]? Without that practice, you won't have that clearing, even just having that mantra, then you know a goal. Which is funny because its not about the goal, but its that goal that keeps you inspired and moving until you realize...
You always have the option of moving forward towards something.
Zahra: I'm curious, what do you think of the concept of having a "higher self"?
Gita: You don't need another dimension! (Laughs)
Zahra: Anything else you would like our readers to know?
Gita: Not only is our home open, and the yurt, but also everybody that comes here. Everybody is welcoming towards anybody that shows up; no matter age, race, belief. I've never seen anything here that isn't one and open. I think a lot of people here get inspired by that as a possibility in their life...having a place to feel that way and they get inspired to do service. When you allow your heart to open you discover a lot of different things, it opens up so much. Really in this country I think people do service because either they want to feel better about themselves or because they think they should, or they only do it when its convenient and easy. When, in true service there is supposed to be some sort of sacrifice, and it's not for you, it's to be done completely without any expectation of return...and that's also something that is also a big part of this community.
Note: Proceeds from jewelry you purchase through the website benefits the Sanlaap, AMURT, and Women’s Interlink Foundations. The proceeds benefit girls that have been rescued from sex trafficking and trauma, Gita works closely with them and visits them in India (in fact she's there right now!). For pictures and more information visit the links below.