Yoga, Wildness and Bliss

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This week, dear friends, I want to talk about wildness and bliss.

There are some things that can be taught and others that have to be experienced, felt, lived.

I was camping once, by the beach. I sat in meditation in the black night. Beneath a cold and star-studded sky. I sat alone.

Suddenly I felt something move with me. I began to feel my body rock to the rhythm of the earth's rotation. I felt her movement around the sun.

I swayed with her, held close, graceful partner in this primordial dance.

This still connection is not something that can be recreated. Nor is it something I've ever forgotten.

Now, every time I sit to meditate, a bit of the sway begins, invoking the wild dance of the earth as I dance within my mind.

There is so much we hold in, so much we contain, shape, prod and prompt, so much we work for. In life and in practice.


On our mats we often work on our posture, our balance, our alignment. We celebrate when we nail it -- jump through from plank, when we land a pike or headstand. So many of us practice this path diligently. Or berate ourselves when we don't.

We spend a lot of time in the 2-by-6 feet of our yoga mats.

But yoga was never meant to be a practice that kept us contained.

Don't you ever wonder why you practice yoga on your mat?

Yoga began in mountaintops, hillsides, inside caves and under trees. Yoga's roots and origins are in the deep wild.

And that wild is both outer and inner.

Some of the first yogis were matted-haired, ash-smeared, dreadlocked sadhus, who ate or smoked herbs and sat in blissful or horrific meditation for days.

Yoga's always had a wild side. It emerges in different ways.

Under British colonization, some of these very same ash-smeared sadhus took up arms, disrupted trains and trade routes of the British East India company, and were so successful that the British created penal codes that outlawed yogis in certain areas of India.

Taking our practice off our mat, being socially engaged, in the world, with the world, changing the world, are all ways to deepen our yoga practice.

Where do you find, feel, and feed the wild -- within and without?


Have you tried practicing on a rock's edge or precipice, not for the photo op, but for the intense groundedness skyward moving rock commands of your feet?

Have you tried asana or meditation by a stream or brook, noticed the flow of the water echoed in the flow of your movement and your thoughts?

There are infinite ways to explore the wild without.

And just as many ways to engage it within. The gentle force of the breath, when we watch it, really watch it, with full attention: length of the in breath, pause, length of the out breath, pause, as it cycles, shares its own wild rhythm.

We might study our wild selves, focus our gaze on our fears, our joys, our anger, ecstasy, shame or our pride and simply observe. We humans have so many emotions- these give us access to the primal wild impulse, when we are really with them, observe and track them. We don't need to do much: stop, observe, listen.

There's a wildness to practice that can emerge even in the studio class- when you are locked in a rhythm, the breath or movement takes over, and you lose yourself. It might feel like crying. Like laughing. Like twirling in circles. Go with it. Don't worry how you look. Or what everyone else is doing.

Because sometimes the secret to deepening our practice is discipline. I absolutely adore the results and depth that focus brings. We wouldn't have the range of practice without it.

But sometimes it is wildness that leads us to bliss.

Only you know where to find and feed your wild.

I'd love to hear where you explore, where you lose and love, find and feed yours.

See you on the mountaintop,

Susanna Barkataki


Inspired to deepen your practice? I'd love to talk.

I work with individuals 1 on 1 in online-learning custom coaching programs to transform your life with the tools of yoga. I also run online yoga business trainings and in-person Yoga Teacher Trainings.