I love yoga. I really do. I love the ability to let go of paying attention to the external world for a few moments and filtering through the stories of human peril. I mean, yoga is where we go for solitude, right? It’s where I personally go to reconnect with feeling my self and not listening to my inner dialogue.

 

yoga, forrest yoga, self defense, yoga ahimsa, ahimsa, willow ryanAs my life has evolved to include becoming an urban park ranger, I realize there is such a strange dichotomy between living freely and living practically. What I mean by this is the deeper we delve into our human body, we become saturated in focus on what our body is sensing, feeling, releasing, and doing. This incredible focus inward allows us to review and see where the patterns, memories, injuries, or emotional wounds are stored. This is a unique and wonderful tool when coupled with the vigilance of remaining attentive to the external world as well.

 

We cannot afford to pretend everything outside of our selves is all rainbows and unicorns. There is violence. There is human trafficking. There is burglary. There are dark layers of human actions perpetuating harmful acts toward the earth, animals, and other humans. We cannot ignore or negate the facts. Reality can be ugly.

 

We must remember to protect ourselves, to implement boundaries. How much negativity or violence will we allow before we take charge? How much are we willing to allow another person to take from us? We must know our breaking point. We must have a plan to maintain boundaries and if someone moves past the boundary, have a practical plan to enact.

 

It’s like running with scissors. Practical knowledge and gut sensory may warn against this action. We would be countering our own innate methodology of self-protection and preservation if we did run with scissors. So why do many of us resist training ourselves to protect or defend?

 

I have noticed trends amongst modern yoga practitioners where they become obedient followers of their own hearts, guiding them towards a freer emotional state. I have also witnessed countless conversations lobbying for ignorant means of protecting oneself. Call it a conscious objection to perpetuating violence, but if someone comes knocking down the yoga studio door, what is the correct method of defense? What if your life is threatened? What if you are assaulted? Do you simply lie down and allow people to walk in and take your belongings, or worse yet, threaten lives? Or do you take a stand, grab a tool, and wield it as a weapon?

 

Remain practical, plan, prepare, and learn self defense techniques. Your loved ones may depend on your skills someday. Every child must learn discipline and esteem improvements, why not involve them in Brazilian jiu jitsu, boxing, self defense, MMA, or weapons training? With preservation and self defense training, it’s easier to feel relaxed, calm, and less anxious about world affairs.

 

yoga, forrest yoga, self defense, yoga ahimsa, ahimsa, willow ryanThis is what I have learned through my work as an urban park ranger. Remain vigilant and ready for the unexpected, as well as attentive and focused to body and gut. The best application of multi-tasking I have ever experienced.

 

Yoga teaches us to listen to our intuition. This sixth sense aids in detecting danger as well as finding safety. Intuition is a heightened sense of awareness to the external surroundings. This is the scope we use to determine direction in life. Yoga poses provide strength and stamina. Holding the poses for multiple breaths makes us prepare mentally to override messages to give up.

 

Never give up. Certainly don't give up your freedom, and hopefully don't give up the willingness to protect what is most precious to you. Bikes come with patch kits. Cars come with methods to change flat tires and insurance in case of an accident. We learn first aid and CPR for medical emergencies. Why not prepare and have a plan for an extreme survival situation? I have a survival kit in my car, run with a weapon, train for self defense, and practice yoga by doing no harm.

 

Knowing thyself is also knowing how to take care of thyself, no matter the situation in which you are called upon to take action. Be proactive, not reactive. That is the message in yoga. Never get caught off guard. Never turn your back on possibility. Remain open to opportunity. Always look toward reality, and be prepared for it all. Self renaissance. Self made. This is yoga. This is your life.

 

Love it.

 

These are my lessons to you as an urban park ranger, yoga veteran, and witness of both beasts and beauties. Be on alert for guidance toward safety and away from danger, both in the external world and the internal. Focus on the yin, but do not ignore the yang.

 

Photos courtesy of Shutterstock.

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