I taught my last regularly scheduled Sunday class at Yoga Mayu's Mission Studio this past weekend. It was a poignant day. As I said to my students, change is both exciting and challenging. There is space for new things to come in, and yet saying goodbye is hard.
It's hard to say goodbye to the space where I started to dive deeper into Yoga, and begin my journey as a teacher. The spare, sunlit studio on Harrison Street, between 16th and 17th, in San Francisco's Mission District, holds a lot of firsts for me. But I remember over four years ago when I first, first, first came to take a class in that studio from the woman I would come to call my Yoga mentor, Jody Hahn, and honestly felt... intimidated.
Despite having many years of a personal home practice, I felt out of my depths, and could feel the fierce seriousness radiating off of other students. It was very clear that first and foremost, this was a YOGA studio. So for awhile, I didn't come back, as I craved a more... laid back environment. Eventually, I did come back, and discovered a community that was yes, very serious about the instruction and learning of Yoga, but not so serious it couldn't also be lighthearted, inviting, and even poke fun at itself. This balance came from Gizella, the studio owner, and the other teachers, many of whom became guides and incredible examples for me during my teacher training at Yoga Mayu. They showed me that there is no one mold for a "Yoga Teacher."
As I passed the benchmarks from training, graduating, auditioning, subbing, to then teaching regularly, I truly began to enjoy the Yoga Mayu community even more. I felt so lucky to witness students grow week to week, see myself grow as a teacher, and have the unique opportunity to introduce first-timers to Yoga. I am grateful and honored to have been both a student, and to serve other students, in the Yoga Mayu environment.
But as I reminded myself and my students on Sunday, Yoga as a practice is, ultimately, not about the space or the teacher. Even if that is what brings you into the practice, over time it is not about where you do it, or who is teaching, but only the practice. You. Moving and breathing. Trying these poses. Noticing what is happening inside as you do. For longer than I've been taking studio classes, I practiced on my own at home. And my practice came down to this:
Me. Moving. Breathing. Noticing.
And for me, the real "goal," of this repetitious physical practice has been to experience the connection that is possible within - between body, breath, mind, and spirit. And then to see if that connection is peaceful. Is it? Can it be? Which comes first? The peace or the practice?
And then to take that connection, those questions, and whatever comes up with them, beyond the mat, the space, the studio, the teacher, beyond the self, out into the world and to the work.
I would postulate that if we start our practice with the idea that if maybe, just maybe, internal peace and connection is possible, then peaceful connection between beings is possible. And what does peaceful connection look like? Maybe when our barriers, categories, egos, and selves, take a break, and we are at ease.
Yoga is one path in the conscious exploration of oneself and the possibilities of who we can be and how we can connect beyond the self.
It's an idea, and an imperfect one, but where I start as a student and teacher. And with all of that being said, what comes next for me as a teacher?
I will continue to sub at Yoga Mayu's Noe Valley Studio. I'm going to focus more intently on my work in Oakland, at Bliss Fitness and Health, at 7 AM on Wednesdays, and with new clients one-on-one. If you are interested in being involved...
A Poll for Yogis and Would-Be Yogis
Are you one of those folks who like the *idea* of a regular yoga practice, but haven't quite been able to make it stick? We know it can be hard to commit to a regular practice, so we're developing a 6 week yoga series designed to build and expand on each week's lesson, with a specific topic/goal in mind. This yoga "boot camp" would:
- Include a curriculum and activities crafted to help you track and see results towards the end goal
- Give you space to explore, ask questions, and get the support you need to develop your practice
- Support your commitment and provide accountability to help you establish and root a regular practice
- Build confidence, strength, and stamina to boldly empower your practice.
The questions we have for you are whether this sounds like something you'd be interested in, and if so, what the burning topic should be. Here's a very short survey (seriously, like 2 minutes!) to help us gauge interest and hear from you!