What would you ask Professor John Campbell about Yoga?
Very few of us will ever get to study at the University of Virginia’s Contemplative Sciences Center, founded by master Ashtanga yoga teacher Dr. John Campbell, Ph.D. But in this episode of Talking Yoga, we get the chance to sit in on one of his classes, so to speak. It’s as if the very questions host Beryl Binder Birch asks John were asked by his students, rather than members of the Talking Yoga community.
Prepare yourself: this is not Yoga 101, but rather, a master class, so be ready for a deep, insightful, and thought-provoking 12 minutes. The subject of the lesson is Yoga: Choice, Change and Faith.
We start with a question from Rob in Colorado, about whether daily yoga practice can change the way our genes express themselves. But rather than delve into the world of chromosomes and DNA, Professor Campbell explores how yoga lets us question the role of our sense of self, down to the cellular level, and recognize not only how deeply rooted we are in that sense of self which makes it difficult for us to change, but the moments of choice in our lives, but also helps us to have a more comprehensive set of choices.
Next, Trish from Boston, MA asks about how our practices change as we age. Responding candidly, using himself as an example, John talks about his own path, and how his practice has evolved, explaining how the practice has to be appropriate to your time and place and circumstances, invoked in the Vedic Shostras. The only limitations to change that many of us encounter come from a lack of the ability to see that we can go anywhere. Although Beryl and John talk about the importance of the teacher-student relationship, they remind us that “The teacher is a prop. Remember, the true guru is the true you that’s going to come out.”
Finally, Sarah in Maryland wants to know about the role of faith in yoga. Professor Campbell talks about “the tension between the effort to get somewhere that you ought to get, and the recognition that there’s nowhere to go.” And that’s where faith comes in. Yoga is an act of faith, because you can't know where you’re going. He ends the lesson, and the episode, with this: “Every moment that you wake up and you do yoga and you don’t really know if it’s worth it, there’s faith involved there.”
What sort of questions would you ask Professor Campbell, if you had the chance to sit in on his classes at UVA? After you’ve watched this episode, please come back and ask them in the comments below, or in the discussions about this episode on Twitter and Facebook. Be sure to include the hashtag, #YogaChoiceChangeFaith.