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by Donna Brooks

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Why this Yoga Teacher cracks a bullwhip!

A BULLWHIP???!!!  Isn’t that sexist, sexy, weirdly S&M or an obsession with a weapon? In any case, how could a Yoga teacher be interested in doing this? I mean, Isn’t Yoga about serenity and all of that?  Or at least getting strong and flexible in a relaxed way. But it’s definitely non-violent and of course calm.

Ah, but Yoga and life at core, is about the never ending dance of opposites. Like yin and yang, night and day, relaxation and activity.  In Yogic practice one polarity we work with is Prana and Apana  – the gathering in of nourishment and releasing of waste.

Similarly, bullwhip cracking is a challenging and exhilarating method of gathering energy and finding the exact moment when it is most powerful and advantageous to release that built up energy. It’s an experiential tool and metaphor for moving powerfully in life.

Gathering energy and then releasing also  makes a powerful crack; a crack that has been described to me as:

“sending shivers down my spine”
“clearing my chakras”
“awakening my senses”
“such a powerful feeling”

It is a powerful and empowering experience.

Why? Well truthfully, the whip can be dangerous. Especially because I chose to use my whole body, rather than flicking my arm or my shoulder to get a crack.

So, when cracking, I need to understand the whip’s undulations and momentum. That means I have to be humbled. Just as with Proud Warrior posture (Virabhadrasana 1) where the exhilaration of my chest and arms are balanced by the deep release of my thighs and perineum to the earth, I learn there is no pride without humility.

It’s the integrity of my movement that makes this strong sound while keeping my body safe. Bullwhip cracking for me is a very functional way of testing my posture, the swing of my hips, my eye hand coordination and my balance. It becomes a meditative movement practice that I learn from.

Bullwhip cracking has personally helped me confront fear and build resolve.  I literally shook the first time I even just twirled it around my head. It made me put myself on the line and I needed to find determination to do that with. There is no metaphor here. You crack it or you don’t. And that crack is powerfully. You are riding a sonic force that has something to say to your body and to the world around you.

That’s why this Yoga teacher cracks a bullwhip. How does what I say impact you? Do you have any practices that let positive force and pure power move through you? I’d love to hear.