It’s finally here. Summer. We’re all finally free from our puffy coats, snow boots, and those extra-warm pants that you have to wear under your actual pants. And it feels like the whole city is back on the loose– buzzing full of options of where to go and what to do. Especially as someone who feels trapped by the cold, snowy winters, the warm weather, sunny days, and water ice of summer feels like true freedom to me. A freedom that I search and hope and long for from late November till early June.
And much like my longing for summer in the depths of winter, there are certain styles of yoga and schools of thought that are searching for freedom. That see freedom as something to be obtained and attained. Something outside of ourselves. But what if it’s not? What if by the simple fact that since we beat the odds of the reproductive lottery and made onto this earth means that we are free?
Svatantrya, translated from Sanskrit, means freedom and not just any freedom, self-looming freedom. And in the yoga I practice rooted in Rajanaka Tantric philosophy, this freedom, this svatantrya is our very nature. Our birthright. What we have been, will be, and are now. Sounds like permanent summer to me, like a total free-for-all.
And while this belief, that we are born free, is central this practice– everything begs a question especially when the world around us…well…is what it is. From as far back as humans have humaned until the present day, people’s freedom have been infringed upon or stolen all together. From the native land and indigenous peoples that once freely roamed this country to the legacy of slavery that built this country to what’s currently happening at our borders, history shows that while we are born free may live through circumstances are not.
Now why that is. Why bad things happen to good people. Why humans have not always protected and respected other humans innate freedom. That’s a whole other post/blog/book/entire academic’s life work. So instead I wonder, where does all this freedom talk leave us? Us meaning those of us with the most options and freedom in our lived experiences in the context of the grand spectrum of human experiences.
Let’s rewind. Svatantrya means self-looming freedom. Which means our freedom lies in our choices– the ones we make and the ones we don’t. The ways we choose to weave ourselves, our actions, our energy back into the world is how we express our freedom.
Many of us come to the mat to get strong or flexible or both. Many practice to find freedom in our bodies, through our bodies, as our bodies. To experience and know and embody the freedom that is at our very center. And like all things this– our connection to our freedom– begs a question, what do we choose to do or not to do with that freedom once we step off the mat and into the messy world?
This article was provided by Adriana Adelé. To dive into this theme a little deeper this month, join Adriana for practice Wednesdays at noon and Fridays at 5:30pm!
Shortly after earning her BA in neuroscience at Oberlin College in Ohio, Adriana began practicing and studying yoga in 2011 after taking her first Bhakti Flow class in Oakland, CA. An athlete growing up, she was first drawn to the physical challenge of the practice but quickly delighted in the equanimity it brought to her mind and spirit. Adriana believes life is a conversation and is constantly surprised and inspired by the answers found on her mat– and the questions which come from those answers.
After moving to Philadelphia, Adriana completed the 200 hour teacher training at DIG Yoga in alignment-based hatha yoga, with her teachers Sue Elkind, Naime Jezzeny, and mentor Mariel Freeman. Through clear alignment cues and thoughtful sequencing, she encourages, supports, and empowers students to cultivate a deeper connection with their breath and body, creating a sustainable yoga practice to carry throughout life. Follow her on Instagram or visit her website.