Gannon is a renowned yoga master, instructor and animal rights activist. In 1984, she and her partner David Life created the Jivamukti Yoga Method, which is a path to enlightenment through compassion for all beings. They are pioneers in teaching yoga as spiritual activism/activation. The JY Method emphasizes vinyasa, scriptural study, devotion, prayer, music, chanting and meditation as well as animal rights, veganism, environmentalism and political activism.
Jivamukti's passionate focus on the original meaning of the Sanskrit word "asana" as seat, connection, relationship to the earth is as practical as it is radical at this time of global and consciousness shift. The Jivamukti Yoga Method is taught worldwide at Jivamukti Yoga Schools in NYC, Detroit, Toronto, London, Berlin and Munich. The Jivamukti practice is also available on DVDs Yoga Journal has recognized Gannon and Life, as innovators in Yoga and "The New York Times" says, "Without Jivamukti, yoga in the U.S. would still be the obscure practice of a few."
"Time Magazine" recognized Jivamukti Yoga as one of the nine methods of Hatha Yoga taught in the world today. JY is featured in the acclaimed documentary film: What is Yoga? Sharon is a featured yogini in various books: "Yoga" by Linda Sparrowe, "American Yoga" by Carrie Schneider, "Yogini" by Janice Gates and "Women to Women" by Christina Lessa.
Question: What is enlightenment?
Sharon Gannon: Enlightenment is the realization of the oneness of being – the realization of this greater community of which we as an individual human being – are only a part. I think there’s so much awareness.
Amazing people like Al Gore or Naomi Wolf, and people that are writing about our times, and speaking about the times that we’re living in, they’re all giving very valid statements. And they’ve looked at things in a very deep way and try to make connections so that maybe we don’t destroy ourselves, and that we can find ways to solve the problems that we are facing with destruction of the environment, the various diseases, and wars, and global warming and all these things – fascism and all of these things that I think a lot of us are very aware are very real threats to our world these days.
But what I see with many of these very good and very smart people is, for me, they’re not being radical enough. They’re not delving deep enough into the causes of global warming; the causes of war; the causes of cancer, heart disease; all the various diseases that we’re dealing with as human beings. Poverty; marshal law; all of these things.
And really all of these things are symptoms. They’re symptoms of a species who has become so disconnected to the world around them that as individuals we feel disempowered. And because of that disempowerment, we feel that what we do doesn’t matter.
And so we can take a plastic cup and drink our drink and throw it away. We can flush things down the toilet that we know are toxic. We can consume, consume, consume. I think I read a statistic that 90 percent of everything that’s bought in an American shopping mall ends up in a landfill within 10 days, something like that. We’re throwing everything away, and we have to begin to ask, “Where is this place which we call ‘away’?” It doesn’t exist. And if we have that awareness of how we are connected to the world around us, then we realize that there is no other place that we can put all of our garbage, all of our toxic waste; that we have to stop making it. And I think that if we’re going to find solutions to these very real threats to the planet – to our survival as not only as a species but life on earth; the survival of life on earth; life as we know it – then we really have to question our culture.
Recorded on: October 31, 2007