The Light in “The Last Jedi”

Yog. Or yog not. There is no try.

There is so much yoga embedded into the world of Star Wars. The Force is akin to Om, Jedi principles match the eight yogic limbs, and the shapes of droids happily lend themselves to poses perfect for little ones. From mindfulness to pranayama to asana, the options for Star Wars themed yoga classes are about as wide as the far, far away galaxy. The latest installment of the series, The Last Jedi, features an era of renaissance for the Rebellion. On the brink of rebirth and revival, the characters offer many memorable messages that can be implemented into your work with little yoda yogis.

“Ben, when we touched hands, I saw your future. Just the shape of it, but solid and clear.” – Rey

The vision that Rey has is of Kylo Ren’s heart in the purest state. Seeing beyond the vrittis of his conflicting thoughts, she is able to see his core essence – and being solid and clear, it is much like a crystal quartz. Swami Karunananda’s Crystal Bowl Exercise is a fantastic way of highlighting this for your students and children.

In a clear container (glass or plastic), place a clear quartz crystal. This crystal represents the true self – the core of your being. Take a water bottle and pour water into the container, leaving at least one inch of room at the top. The water is the mind. When the mind is clear, we can easily see the crystal, or the essence of self. Next, begin to add drops of food coloring to the container. You can associate emotions to the colors: yellow as joy, red as frustration, green as jealousy, blue as sorrow. As the drops of individual colors settle, use a spoon to stir the contents of the container. When more colors are added and begin to mix with one another, the crystal becomes more difficult to see, but not impossible. Next, add sand to the container. Sand could represent very tough emotions (fear, anger), or even the little moments of day to day life (thoughts, to-do’s, etc.) that add up tremendously over time. Stir the contents once again. The mixture of color and sand in the container will become translucent or possibly even opaque. Can you see the crystal when the mixture is being twirled by the spoon? It can be tricky. It may even remain difficult to see when the contents settle. So much “stuff” has been added to the mind. But does that “stuff” change our true self? When ready, take the crystal out of the container. It will have some of the “mind” left on it – water, perhaps color, maybe a bit of sand. Using the water bottle, pour clear and clean water on the crystal. Just a tiny bit will remove the “stuff”, and there, just as before, will be the crystal – the pure self.

This visual shows that Kylo Ren (and everyone else within our galaxies) is good at their core. At times, the “stuff” makes it more challenging to see the pure self, but that does not change the fact that the pure self remains. In her video Raja Yoga by Lalita, Kidding Around Yoga teacher Lalita Vigander describes: “we identify with our thoughts instead of our true selves. Our natural state of calm emanates our true selves – our crystal.” Sinking into and identifying with his painful thoughts keeps Kylo Ren in role as the antagonist. Rey, awakened to her Jedi spirit, invites Kylo Ren to detach from pain and embrace calm. She sees the real him. The way of the Jedi invites us to approach our minds with peace and clarity. This exercise can be done as a demonstration in front of your students, or with each child mixing their own container and finding the hope of their unchanged core – their clear crystal.

“The greatest teacher, failure is.” – Yoda

How will we know if we never try?! This mantra can be helpful for yogis of all ages as they approach new asanas. Wheel, candle, and all crow pose variations may seem intimidating to newer practitioners. Failure is a First Attempt In Learning. It means you tried something new! And to be a Jedi, one must make many efforts. Encourage your yogis to try and try again. Whether success comes or not, there is always a lesson that will unfold.

“She cared more about saving the light than seeming heroic.” – General Leia Organa about Amilyn Holdo

While in charge of the Raddus, Vice Admiral Holdo advances her plans to bring the team to safety. When met with disbelief and rebuttal, she quietly persists, not letting the fears or doubts of others influence her decision making. Our little yogis are always looking up to us. Are we modeling the practices that we’re teaching? Are we always staying our true course? Know that wherever you are, young eyes are watching you and looking up to you. If you live your truth, they will live theirs.  

Additionally, when General Leia expresses this admiration for the Vice Admiral’s perseverance, she notes the selfless attitude that Holdo has. The Vice Admiral was more concerned with serving the greater good than being recognized for her leadership. This is a perfect opportunity to tie Karma Yoga into your teachings. Karma Yoga is about selflessly giving back to others with gratitude for what you have. Holdo was graciously thankful for her friendship with General Leia, and when it was her turn to steer the ship, she honored that companionship by doing what was best for the Alliance. What can your little yogis do to save the light? Perhaps this is taken literally – turning off electronics at home or in the studio when they are not in use, or perhaps figuratively – preserving positivity, empathy, and kindness within the community. What acts can you assign as OMwork for your students? How can we encourage them to selflessly save the light?

“This is how we win. Not by fighting what we hate, but by saving what we love.” – Rose Tico

Much like the characters in Star Wars, we live in turbulent times. Focusing our energies and our efforts on preserving these ancient practices that keep us grounded and on track will move our universe forward. Unconditional love is a result of a steady yoga practice, just as it is in the practice of the Jedi.

“We are the spark that will light the fire…” – Poe Dameron

Sharing the practices and benefits of yoga with the young people of our world is such an amazing gift. Love and light are qualities that don’t diminish. By sharing them, they grow. We, as yoga teachers, are the spark that will light the fire of future generations. Let us rise to the occasion with full force. May we embrace this incredible opportunity. We are laying the foundation for a world full of peaceful children. After all, in the words of wise Yoda, “We are what they grow beyond.”

Namaste and may the force be with you, always!

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