“In the grand scheme of things, women in the West were permitted to vote last week!”
Mark Whitwell, Yoga of Heart
If I had a guru, his name would be Mark Whitwell. Mark has been teaching authentic yoga in the lineage of Krishnamachrya and his son TKV Desikachar for over 20 years. I first met him in Sydney in 2009 and then did a weekend workshop in January.
I quote Mark because today is International Women’s Day (IWD). First celebrated in 1911, IWD recognises the economic, social and political achievements of women worldwide. Most women today have some knowledge of the way our lives have changed over the past century. We are also aware that the basic rights of women are still being developed in many parts of the world.
A woman’s feminine experience depends largely on the historical and social context into which she is born. I am a 30 year-old Australian woman who has had full access to health, education and political opportunities. I grew up with the freedom to dress, speak and act the way I pleased. As an adult I pursue a career full-time, sharing home and child-care duties with my husband. All my friends have similar lifestyles; we keep our maiden names, work hard and we spend our own money. We have no idea what it is like to have no access to education or employment, to be told what to wear and to serve a man before ourselves. We believe we are equal. We believe we are free. But are we?
In his book, Yoga of Heart, Mark talks about the continuing power struggles between women and men:
“Men are afraid of women’s power and many women are trying to to duplicate men rather than relax and be themselves.”
He believes that yoga has the power to change this and free both men and women from restrictive gender roles. In a nutshell; yoga can help both sexes to soften and recognise our mutuality rather than our duality. It is only when this happens that we can find our true power as humans.
Do you think women try to duplicate men? And do you think that men are afraid of the power of women? What does International Women’s Day mean to you?