Thursday, April 22, 2010

Are you united?

just realized that I have been writing this blog for several months now, but I have failed to consider what the word yoga really means and why that matters. So here goes. Yoga means "to yoke." It has also been translated as "union," which is probably a more pertinent word in the 21st century. In real words, this means that yoga is about bringing parts of ourselves together, and then bringing the external and internal words together. It is about bringing balance to our physical selves, and taking that balance into our lives. Using the imagery of yoking, yoga helps keep us together. When my life sometimes feels overwhelming, and I have too much to do, I find that yoga helps me rein everything in, hold it together, and create harmony within my life. Not always, but yoga always makes helps me work to obtain the more perfect union.

Growing up in the YMCA, this same idea was represented by a triangle, with the sides signifying Spirit, Mind, and Body. The triangle balanced on its point, representing the balance between the three. That triangle has always stuck with me, and it guides my ideas about yoga today - uniting spirit, mind, and body. Yoga helps make that point possible and helps keep the triangle from falling over.

But how do we take this idea of uniting into our professional lives? Sometimes it is called work-life balance, how we unite our home lives with our professional lives. When we yoke in all the aspects of our lives, we can work from a place of stability. Yoga can help us find the balance between carpools, court appearance, grocery shopping, client visits, and oh yeah, sleep. This blog is about that union. It is about bringing yoga and the law, yoga and the modern world, together. As I open up more to this idea, I have found that, at work, yoga is more respected, and I'm overjoyed about that. I have a nagging suspicion that my lawyer friends think all I talk about is yoga, and my yoga friends think all I talk about is being a lawyer. Both worlds, so different, yet so important to who I am. But I have struggled with how to unite them, how to express the true essence of yoga.

I went to law school in order to help children (long story for another day). I was not sure that I wanted to practice law, but I found myself fascinated by it, including areas of the law I never dreamed I would enjoy - contracts and business entities. I fell in love with constitutional law, and I refused to miss my Separation of Powers class even for important meetings. In other words, I was hooked on the law in general, but I still wanted to do work with children. I currently work at the Court of Appeals, and one of the many reasons I wanted to work there was to see all aspects of the legal profession at work, to make sure I was not determining my professional future based on ideas I had when I was 16. 

But my current job offered me another opportunity - time. That is something lawyers rarely have. I work 8-5 - perfect for obtaining a yoga teacher certification at night. And as the months of no sleep and yoga community mixed with sitting in a windowless office under florescent lights staring at a computer screen all day, I realized a new calling - bringing yoga to lawyers and eventually to other modern professionals. I know that yoga can make a difference in the workplace, and I want to be a part of that difference. 

But professionally, I have been more and more convinced that I really do want to do legal work on children's issues, and this week that dream came one step closer to coming true. I was awarded a scholarship and am going to spend ten months in New Zealand studying family law. My hope is to spend that time learning how New Zealand created a family law system that recognizes children's rights, helps families, and reduces conflict. Then I want to come back to the United States and help set up similar systems here. 

But I still want to teach yoga to lawyers. 

What to do? How about some yoga, some yoking and uniting?

It is time to bring all these ideas together, the passion to work for children's representation in the law, and the passion to help the legal profession function better with all that yoga can provide. So different you think? Not at all. The uniting force here is a desire to make the legal profession work for more people. I fell in love with the law in law school because it has the power to change lives for the better. I fell in love with yoga because it has the power to change lives for the better. Not so different anymore. A better system of family law could definitely benefit from yoga. I may not know how it will pan out, but both will happen.

Yoga is about union. Who is to say that we cannot take seemingly incompatible ideas and make them one? The true essence of yoga is to create a whole out of all these parts of ourselves. What areas of your life need some yoga, need some uniting? I bet they are more possible than you ever imagined!

Namaste and Blessings!


  1. Great post - thanks! I'm a lawyer too, but my only legal work right now is some pro bono work in my personal time. I love the idea of bringing yoga to lawyers. And congrats on your opportunity to study family law in New Zealand and then bring what you learn back with you. Our court system definitely needs some help in that department, and I can't wait to hear more about what you learn.

  2. @ Tiffany - Thank you so much for the comment. I think pro bono work in your free time is the best kind of lawyer gig. I miss the volunteer work I was able to do in law school. I hope to get back to it when I (finally) start practicing law, whenever that might happen.

  3. You are doing something wonderful too! Please keep in touch if you are ever in Hawaii!