Empowering Women

As I watched the movie Yogawoman, showing how much many women have accomplished from “just” gaining self-empowerment, I thought about how much time humanity spends fighting (physically, emotionally or both) for things that are not going to take it anywhere. Some people fight for territory (yes, if they win, it will take them to that conquered territory, but then what? They are just going to desire the next piece of land…), some others fight for a different appearance for themselves – internally or externally. They actually desire to be somebody else, and never get to accept who they truly are inside, and therefore never learn to deal with their own feelings. So, a whole life could be spent by a person who fights himself internally, negating his feelings, forcing himself to be like that tough guy on TV or a sports team, when the person really isn’t a bit like that other one. When he realizes how silly that is, it is usually way later in his life. Not that it will be too late, it never is, but he will then have to start undoing some of the things that now stand in his way, and that takes energy and a while to accomplish. So, why spend your life building blockages for yourself?

Anyway, back to the movie, there were a few moments that brought tears to my eyes. Mostly because they show women who have learned a lot about themselves with yoga, feel very comfortable with who they are now and just want to share this great empowering feeling with others. Yes, these people “starring” the movie (although they are real, not actresses) actually want everybody to feel great setting judgments aside. It doesn’t matter who they are helping, what they have been doing or who they have been pretending to be. It all comes down to your core (yes, yoga will have you working on your physical core, but here I am talking about another meaning for the word core), your essence, your true nature. The one that, no matter how much you run or hide from it, always comes back to find you and maybe haunt you, poking you and reminding you how turbulent everything feels inside just because you have been fighting your own essence, pretending to not own it. There is finally a boiling point when you need to accept it to stop this otherwise eternal fight. And so, these women are shown in the movie helping people realize who they truly are, accept it and work with it, moving on from there.

One of the moments that touched me was watching this lady, who had survived breast cancer, and got so much healing out of her yoga practice that she created classes and retreats for women who are going through the same issues she had been through. She understands what they are feeling and knows how to support and empower them. Do you realize how much this could mean in a patient’s life after she has been diagnosed? They will then learn to accept what it is, learn to handle their feelings, and finally like who they are no matter what is going on in their bodies; they will feel good about themselves, period.

There was an interview in the movie when a woman explained, “Yoga seems to polish the diamond everyone carries inside, so each person can shine.” This speaks so much to me. Once you polish your own diamond – you have found out who you really are, you handle your feelings well, and finally you feel great about yourself – you feel so good that you want to spread that feeling and help other people achieve that also. Well, that has been the reason for starting this blog and other projects in my life.

Another special moment was when a group of women raised money and went to Africa to help people there. In a very similar way than the example above, they bring hope to these people. Of course, they also taught them yoga, so their help would not just be limited to that visit, when locals could think maybe once these helpers were gone everything would go back to being miserable. Through yoga and the sense of community and empowerment it brings, these people would then have a way to still feel good about themselves after the visitors were gone, in whatever situation they found themselves in. Even though they usually deal with pretty tough situations on a daily basis, they will be able to hold it together, to keep their hopes up, and to feel capable of achieving something. One of the residents told an interviewer how powerful she felt from being able to teach yoga to other residents in her area, and also just from hearing them call her teacher, although she, at the age of nineteen, did not think much of herself before.

One final aspect of the movie I want to mention is yoga being taught to women in prisons. How empowering is that? When you think everything is lost, and still you are confined and feeling doomed, here comes yoga to brighten up your life, to show there is a light somewhere in that tunnel, which now seems worth walking through. And even though one can feel so defeated about her present situation, here comes the same pattern again: you learn to accept your condition; become able to handle your emotions, start to feel good about yourself and see a few positive things where before there was only darkness. One prisoner talked about how sometimes she would feel this deep anger and wanting to hurt someone. After practicing yoga still while in prison, she learned to turn around this hurtful feeling by simply sitting and breathing. What better thing for a prisoner to do? Just sit, breathe and put yourself together, so one can restart the life she wants t create for herself soon. No wasting time on blaming other people for her condition, acting her anger on somebody else, ganging up on others to impose fear on them, just like they once felt helpless. Bringing yoga to the imprisoned will help them be better persons as they choose to embrace every aspect of their practice, and this could mean a better future, not just for them, for all of us, as they will eventually come back to society.

I am not trying to write a review for the movie, I just want to point out the parts that spoke loudly to me (in a good way), touching my heart, and feeding that fire that tells me there is hope. We can build a better world for ourselves and the next generations to come. And if yoga is the easiest and maybe quickest way to help people realize who they are and the fact that, no matter what, they matter, let’s embrace it then! I have felt the benefits of yoga and have seen it on many of my friends and yoga buddies. That is why I keep encouraging people (including family members) to try it, or to keep doing it; as we continue to grow from every practice. And when you think you have come to a dead end, just wait and persevere, that’s when big growths happen!

On another note, having my teenage daughter Hibernia watching the movie with me felt pretty good. I was happy she could see people turning from feeling or actually being doomed into successful people, and how they work it all out, followed by a feeling of “now I want to share this with everybody else”, also wanting to empower others. Of course I don’t mean that in a way that, from now on, she can be inconsequential because there is always a way to get out of problems, no matter how big they are. I mean in a way that she does not need to feel bad because she doesn’t look like Barbie (who does anyway?) or she doesn’t follow celebrities like some of her peers do; she is who she is, and that is good enough already. And by digging more into herself, she can find other qualities, which will help her lead a better life and eventually feel fulfilled by her choices. Hibernia will hopefully feel motivated enough by this movie and examples from women around her to polish her own diamond and shine her bight light among us. And that is also my hope for many, many more, naturally aiming for a brighter future for all of us, including our beautiful planet.

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About thowling

Peace, love and light! Thereza Howling.
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4 Responses to Empowering Women

  1. kario says:

    I loved the film, too, and was so touched by the endless ways that yoga is helping women to connect with who they really are in a quiet way. It isn’t lectures or textbooks, but simply going through the ritual of physical movements that speaks volumes to women and girls everywhere. And to think that once women were banned from practicing yoga!

    • thowling says:

      It is just one more demonstration that all we need is already inside us, we only have to dig to find it. Yoga is a great digging tool to find our diamonds buried deep inside. Let them shine!
      Much love,
      Thereza.

  2. Erin Oglesby says:

    Thank you for writing so eloquently about how you were inspired by YOGAWOMAN. It was really great to hear that your daughter was empowered by the film too!! I also loved it and was surprised and proud to see it so prominently feature the organization Off The Mat, Into The World and the trip the group took to Uganda in 2009 to build an eco-birthing center. I’m taking the Off The Mat, Global Seva Challenge for Haiti this year. I’m trying to raise $20k by Dec 15th for service projects in Haiti and if I make the goal, I will go there and get to work, just like they did in the film. I’m putting on events, reaching out to my community and talking to everyone and their mother about it.

    My yoga practice has given me the confidence and compassion I was so greatly lacking in my life. I used to be unsatisfied, unhappy and stuck. Now, don’t even recognize myself sometimes. I would have never taken on a challenge like this in the past or if I did, I probably would have quit the challenge by now. Yoga has seriously changed attitude and outlook on life. My practice has allowed me to slow down, find love for myself and others, and has given me the tools to sustain through all of the good and bad that life has to dish out. Here’s to more polish and shinier diamonds!!

    • thowling says:

      Hi Erin,
      Thank you for your nice comment about my post. I know what you are talking about in terms of getting so much from yoga practice; it has changed my life! I loved to hear you are full of fire, putting on events to fundraise for your upcoming trip. I hope you make it so you can spread the love in one more corner of the world! I also am about to embark on an adventure like yours and look forward to giving back to the community.
      Peace, love, and light to you and yours!
      Thereza.

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