Opening day, the inaugural class at our rechristened Center for Yoga. As I sat before forty students, all masked, all vaccinated, all eager to be together, eager to begin again; I realized that this was not so much about “my” moment of returning, as about all of us connecting.
“We shall not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring/ Will be to arrive where we started/ And know the place for the first time.” -Little Gidding by T.S. Eliot
Ah! To return to the place where I began my journey, over forty years ago. My personal deep dive into the “Self”, and where yoga would take me. Be with the simplicity of recognizing the moment; a very Zen thing to do. Be Here Now. Breath in;… and breath out. I felt the space, made sacred through thousands of hours of practitioners connecting with their breath, with one another, with the space, with Yoga.
As a young woman, I sought to “find” myself in my Yoga studies and practices. Now, I seek to “lose” myself, on and off the mat. My yogic journey has been an epic one that often pushed me against my own resistance, face to face with fear, aspirations, disappointments, falling apart and putting myself back together. I lived through the excitement and ascent of the yoga wave, during the early aughts, complete with the promises of transformation and Nirvana. In between, my father died in my arms, my mother died as I stepped out of her room. I packed both homes up. And I showed up on my mat, over and over.
What happened? The student became a teacher, and the teacher became a better student as the pulse of experience and maturity drove me deeper into my practice. The more I studied, the more I realized I did not know. Or at least “know” in a sense of a comprehensive truth. Now, I seek less to ‘know” and more to “lose” myself and appear in the moment, as sensation, as perception, as breath, as connecting.
What else happened to yoga? The day I saw Christy Turlington on the cover of Time magazine (2001) I knew things were changing. Lululemon, mega yoga conferences, Instagram, Guruji Iyengar listed one of the top one hundred most influential people in Time magazine (2004). Communities splintered as their vaulted leaders fell to the lure of their students; communities spread, as yoga franchises opened from coast to coast; and the 200-hour teacher training programs became “soft” yoga. Caveat: I suppose I am somewhat biased here! In the Iyengar system, there is no such thing as a “pay for the course and you get a teaching certificate.” Maty Ezraty (founder of YogaWorks) and I would never consider that idea.
The reborn Center for Yoga will evolve, as we all do. Every community grows through the collective efforts of individuals, through events and through adversity. Everyone who enters its space will shine a little light, shed a few problems and/or pounds, loosen around the edges to live life a touch more deeply. We share so much talent and have so many characters in our community! May we all celebrate, as I am, returning to the Center.
A talent is formed in stillness, a character in the world’s torrent. -Goethe