Pause. Take a deep breath. Soften your ego; claim your divinity. Here's to 10 years.
At the end of this week, the Shala makes a move — a move into a bigger space, a freer space, a more expansive space, and a space that is in honor of the sangha that has grown over the last few years here in Carrboro.
The words on the front door will read:
"Pause. Take a deep breath. Soften your ego; claim your divinity. Prepare to be motivated, inspired, instructed. You are stronger than you believe, more powerful than you can imagine, much smarter than you know.
It's time...to FLY."
It is always bittersweet to make a move, but this move is no more than about 20 feet away, into the building adjacent to the old space which faces West Main Street. It's a long 20 feet.
Huge shifts have been made since the inception of the Yoga Shala in Carrboro in June of 2016. Shifts into a more compassionate mindset, shifts in the growth in wisdom, shifts in allowing the sangha to grow and shape the future of how yoga is taught in this area forever.
As we move into the new space which offers the opportunity for us to more smoothly grow and evolve what we’ve created, we also look at the end of a decade. A decade that began with some of my earliest teaching, and a decade that ends with an expansive perspective and outlook that seems limitless.
When it comes down to it, we are indeed above all of this — we’re more than our space, more than our choices, more than our tradition, more than our practices, more than our teachers, students, families… we’re more than anything that we do or identify by — after all, that’s what makes us yogis.
But in the processes and mindfulness of things, it’s important to celebrate our milestones and to be present with where we are. This is a personal thanks to the sangha - to our beautiful little family of spiritual beings that continue to magnetize to the same little funky area of Carrboro, day after day, week after week.
Even though we are much more that all of this, we also know that we go farther together, and the light shines forth bigger and brighter when we work together. I would like to give thanks at the end of this beautiful, incredible, astonishing, lustrous and auspicious decade. The Shala would not be where it is without the love, depth, support, encouragement and devotion of these folks here…
Quaye, thank you for being my rock, through thick and thin. Through this decade, last decade, and so many more to come.
Daryl, thank you for giving me motivation to find a new home for my family and a new space for wisdom to thrive in Carrboro.
Todd, thank you for inspiring, motivating and instructing me, and for creating a yoga method that is accessible and intelligent. Your teachings will always resonate and offer a push when I need it, and your powerful drive remains as the most authentic and sacred in energetic lineage. I don’t go a day without feeling inspired by you.
Frank, thank you for reminding me that there’s no such thing as a “bad” practice.
Peter, thank you for teaching me how to rest long enough to feel. Without your wacko-wisdom, I would not have made the leap that you encouraged me to make. The journey back into health started with your support.
Emily, thank you for always saying yes to growth, wisdom, awareness, and opportunities to expand yourself. Friendship and togetherness in the realm of the path is one of the most rewarding gifts. You give it effortlessly.
Kim, thank you for being my friend, for teaching me how to be warm, and for helping me to accept the Winter. Thank you for your love and light; thank you for your depth and dark. We can’t know or appreciate the light without knowing and appreciating the dark. The yin and the yang, indeed.
Marianne, thank you for trying to tell me that it couldn’t be done.
Laurel, you are truly a gift to those that you touch. Thank you for helping me regain access to the power within me, and for never suggesting that I was beyond healing. The “even though” is a big, expansive, compassionate place.
Micah. Thank you for being my best friend. Your compassionate openness and incredibly natural gift of acceptance is a gift to the world, and has been a powerful teacher for me. We’ve been through some of the “worst,” and some of the “best.” I'm a lucky gal, indeed, and I cherish every moment.
Bodhisattva, my favorite meditation partner, you are the light of the world. Keep shining bright. Thank you for forgiving me. Thank you for your unconditional sweetness and kindness. Thank you for being a growing force of delight and virtue. Thank you for choosing me to be your mom. I love you more than you will ever know (no, I love YOU more).
In addition to giving thanks, I have this opportunity to share some personal and universal lessons I’ve learned. My hope is that someone reads this, and is inspired to come in and see what this yoga stuff is all about, or that current sangha members are further inspired, motivated and instructed. In the last 10 years of diving in and experiencing the yoga lifestyle, these are some things I’ve picked up along the way:
Being a good teacher means being a dedicated practitioner, and identifying above all else, as a yogi and a seeker. You can’t teach or inspire or motivate others when you can’t teach, inspire or motivate yourself. This path is not a hobby and it’s not a part-time job. It’s a lifestyle to be lived and practiced every waking moment of the day in various and abundant applications, formalities and informalities. The 8 limbs offer a tremendous journey, and the yoga mat is the gateway.
Experiential and detailed grasping of your own anatomy is crucial to teaching yoga asana. Being able to clearly express it in words comes with said experiential understanding.
Understanding different types of bodies and where individuals are coming from is a really important aspect of providing effective instruction. Communication is key. To be a dynamic yoga instructor, learn to become a master communicator. That is to say, learn to express your words intelligently and effectively when it’s necessary, and to be silent when words are extraneous. Trusted and time-tested student/teacher relationships are some of the most valuable aspects of daily teaching. The ability to let go of valuable relationships along the path is a sign of significant growth. Asana is never overdone. Neither is pranayama or meditation. But as long as we are in human bodies, there is energetic clarity to be had, movement to be found, blossoming to watch unfold, and there’s just no better exercise in moving the human body in all its forms, directions, functions, powers and angles than strenuous yoga asana. Put your leg behind your head, do a handstand, do a huge backbend, crank yourself into a giant twist and fold your heart over your hips in a forward bend. And when you do all these things, you get a glimpse of what energetic clarity is. Staying with it is a start to a path of finding a permanent state of joy. Holding space for students to grow is more important than trying to herd them in any particular direction. Bring fearlessness to fear. It is empowering and motivating, and dispels ignorance much better than debate. Often, that means losing students or watching beginners not return. Yoga teachers are not happy-makers. It’s no more a yoga teacher’s job to make someone happy than it is to make the sun come up in the morning. It is the student’s responsibility to tend to their own breath, their own alignment and their own contentment. It is the teacher’s responsibility to inspire, motivate and instruct, meeting students where they are, and aiding them in reaching and expanding their capacities on any given day. The customer is not always right. The balance of yoga as a business and yoga as a sacred lifestyle is NOT difficult. Students are not customers and there is no such thing as “right” and “wrong.” If you are truly following the path of a yogi, you may not get rich, but you can absolutely make a simple living, finding comfort and ease. Truly following the path of a yogi, however, ensures that you identify first and foremost as a devoted practitioner of yoga. And the next thing on the list of roles and identifications is likely not “entrepreneur” or “businesswoman/man of the year.” The next things on the list are probably “devoted partner,” “compassionate parent,” “reckless creative,” “discoverer of the undiscovered” or maybe just “curious and open to all that Is.” Deep practice cracks people and hearts wide open. Holding strong boundaries while being steadfast in supporting these openings is powerful not just for the student’s growth, but it offers the yoga teacher a front row seat into the stages of this universal process of awakening at every level. It’s validating to the depth of the ever-expansive magnificence of that which is within us all. And it encourages a growth cycle of students to teacher and teacher to students.
Watching what seeps out when I crack myself open deeper is an intense way of life to which I’ve become accustomed. Personally, I could have it no other way. But when I hold space for a student or friend to crack wide open, I get to connect at a level of depth that exists only among human beings, in the most stripped-down state of existence. It’s truly as close as any person can be to another. It’s auspicious, it’s whole, it’s pure; it’s love at its most conscious expression. It’s the stuff that we’re made of, it’s the stuff we all yearn for, and it’s the stuff I am graced with the experience of each and every day.
To the teachers who have graced me with their love and presence, to current students, to former students, to the students whom I have yet to encounter, to all the practitioners that I’ve been graced with the opportunity to practice alongside, to my precious personal support system, to my son, thank you. Here’s to 10, and maybe 10 more…