Do you know about Father Joe Pereira?
This generous, thoughtful and robust 74 year-old is a Diocesan priest and a Senior Iyengar Yoga Teacher. A direct student of BKS Iyengar since 1968, Father Joe also worked closely with Mother Theresa for decades. He established the Kripa Foundation Iyengar Yoga, which is dedicated to the care and support of those affected by chemical dependency and HIV/AIDS with holistic-oriented rehabilitation programs that include Iyengar Yoga.
A few weeks ago he was in Montreal to offer a series of workshops including a 2-day training on Iyengar Yoga for addiction. At the end of the training, I had the opportunity to speak with him about the role of service for the yogi. He told me:
“Service is a natural outcome of a practitioner who looks at this practice as a gift. … you can’t keep it to yourself, you want to share it with somebody. “
Notice how this may already be true for you. How do you feel after a yoga practice or meditation session? What spills over into the rest of your day? How do you share the gifts of your practice in your life?
Father Joe continued,
"Mother Theresa started by getting this inspiration that people are thirsty for love. And those kind of people who are not being loved is where [she fulfilled] the thirst of God in them. So that is the whole orientation. I developed this, now it is a very specific type of approach. But I was just simply sharing my practice with the youth and this led me to the problem people and in the neighborhood senior citizens homes, in the hospitals…It takes mindset, I must know where this urge to help should be oriented. I must first have a mindset. Then I will find a place or a person who needs this help."
It takes recognition, appreciation, and a particular mindset, a chosen orientation to translate the gifts of your practice into service.
Just as light by its very nature diffuses darkness, we too become carriers of yoga over time. The benefits we receive from the practice can’t help but radiate into our everyday lives and our way of being in the world. The question is not whether owe will expand our light through the practice, it’s how will we diffuse that light? How will we direct it, share it and ultimately inspire others to discover it for themselves?
And while we're on the topic of service, I want to let you know on Sunday, October 16 I'll be co-hosting a free webinar on the launch of the World Spine Care Yoga project earlier this year in Botswana. If you are moved to share the gifts of yoga in underserved communities our work will be of interest to you. Participation is free, hope to see you there!