Beryl Bender Birch

Director and founder, The Hard & Soft Yoga Institute

Beryl Bender Birch

The first thing I tell people in my workshops and teacher-training programs is that I can't teach them yoga, no one can. And I can't teach them to teach yoga. Teaching comes out of practice and yoga itself is an experience, not a thing ... it is the experience of boundlessness, or realizing the True Self. All I can teach is a set of instructions, and if someone follows those instructions for a long time without a break, then that might possibly lead to an experience of what we call yoga.

I have dedicated the past 40 years to trying to teach people that yoga is an experience that can't be explained and that the use of the term yoga is not synonymous with asana. Yoga is meditation, it's pranayama, it's service, it's paying attention, it's scrubbing floors and chanting praises to God. People ask me frequently how often I practice. I tell them I haven't missed a day of practice since 1971. Practice means making an effort to pay attention. That means 24/7 - brushing teeth, washing dishes, scooping dog poop, in the shower, all of it.

What really interests me is the next level - the philosophy and the meeting point of science and spirit. My work is to train spiritual revolutionaries - people who are sitting at the confluence of activism and spirituality. Those two paths used to be as different as night and day, but now they have converged. We all need to awaken and then go out and help to wake up everyone else not through proselytizing or or emotional righteousness, but through working to be an example of the light. Do the work. That's it. Then perhaps we can finally achieve as a species that quantum leap in human consciousness that I've been hoping for since 1971.

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