Max Strom on how Yoga can save the world: peace on earth. Max Strom lives in Washington D.C. (United States), works as a yoga teacher, speaker and is the author of ‘A life worth breathing’ and ‘There is no App for happiness’. He invited me to have dinner with him and I also attended his workshop in Brussels at Factory Forty in 2016. I felt like reposting this blog now in 2018 as it has such an important message: Peace on Earth.
During Max his workshop that I attended he asked us participants to do the following exercise: ‘”Visualise yourself in five years from now. Imagine that this person is now sitting in front of you. ‘What does (s)he look like?’, ‘What is (s)he feeling?’, ‘What is keeping her/him busy?’, ‘What is her/his goal?’, ‘What is making her/him happy?’”. Questions that go back to the essential questions: ‘What is ‘happiness’ for you?’
Strom’s definition of happiness is to live a daily meaningful life. For him this means writing and speaking about personal transformation. For that reason he also teaches yoga all over the world. Why? To let people experience that extraordinary breath work in combination with movement and mindful attention can heal us. It can heal us of making unethical choices that create a lot of unnecessary stress for us all.
How does this healing process work? The breath makes us aware of suppressed emotions and thoughts. By moving with attention and with our attention to our breath, we can bring experiences, emotions and thoughts back to the surface that have long been hidden. Awareness of this pain is the first step. Healing starts here. First we will need to feel what needs to be felt and needs to be heard. After that we can make a conscious choice on how to cope with this pain.
Strom himself took his first yoga class in a period of his life in which he wasn’t happy. He had everything he could wish for, but it didn’t feel meaningful. After an invitation of a friend, he took a yoga class and he immediately experienced the profound power of yoga and breath. It was a major turning point in his life. Strom then gradually started a career in yoga after having worked in the music and film industry for years.
His start as a yoga teacher also began with an invitation. A friend arranged a room and students and invited Strom to teach his first yoga class that particular day. In his classes Strom focuses on inviting the breath to create physical, emotional and mental space. Extraordinary breathing brings personal transformation and he invites us to experience this with him.
What would Strom like us to experience? Most yoga classes do not pay any attention to the breath. Strom emphasizes the power of the breath in his work. He will guide you through several methods to connect with your breath and this way you can connect to the core of your being. By letting your breath initiate the movement, you become aware of your patterns. This is an important aspect for personal transformation.
Improve the world
This awareness will ensure that we get a chance to evaluate your approach and adjust it accordingly. We can then change our life from a higher consciousness and from new values and principles (ethics). When we feel better as a person and when we act out of respect, honesty and compassion this will also have a beneficial effect on the world around us, and on the world at large. Personal happiness and good health will then have a profound effect.
Strom strives to improve the world for everyone and for you too with his method. Your personal transformation is the starting point for this. When you take ethically responsible decisions, it is beneficial for all. Strom’s message: “Let us as a society learn how to deal with emotions and conflicts. Let Yoga and our breath heal us”.
How can you as a teacher contribute to peace on earth?
Strom encourages teachers to make yoga classes accessible to a broad audience, so that everyone feels invited to practice yoga and to experience the transformational power of extraordinary healing and breathing exercises. Thus how can you as a teacher contribute to peace on earth? This is what you can do:
✓ Don’t sing mantras and chant. Make sure that people of different religions and faiths feel welcome and for that reason you do not sing ‘god’ – names or religious songs.
✓ Speak the language of your members and do not use Sanskrit. Name the poses in your member’s language or English. The reason being that you want people to understand what you are saying and because their language feels most comfortable to them.
✓ Teach all level classes and always give options and offer adjustments. You motivate your members by giving them the most achievable targets.
✓ Are you creating a poster for an event? Then show a pose that is feasible for everyone so you truly motivate them to participate.
✓ Make sure that men feel welcome in your class as well and make sure the studio, its curriculum and the language is accessible to them.
To conclude, make sure that the yoga classes are accessible, feasible and safe. Let people feel at home. A secure base is necessary for learning. Respect other people’s possibilities and impossibilities. Focus on your students and adapt to their needs. Teach from your strength and vision and with respect and compassion.
Would you like to know more about Max Strom?
How to slow down? Simply take a break and do Yin Yoga.
Sit still. Stretch. Breathe. Continue.
Yin Yoga with Marianne
Join us online: Yin Yoga with Marianne.
Watch the short promo on YouTube: Yin Yoga with Marianne.
Read the blog ‘Yin Yoga Online’ with all necessary links to useful YouTube videos.
Read the blog ‘Do It Yourself’ and find out why I believe you can do Yin Yoga anywhere, anytime.
This article has been edited by Bram van den Reijen: firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you Bram for your final edit!