I miss Living Yoga. (this picture was taken there. follow me on Instagram!)
Living Yoga was the first place I practiced yoga outside of my mother’s basement. I walked in one Monday morning, over two years ago, and I kept going. I fell in love with yoga, but most importantly, I fell in love with yoga there. I adored Living Yoga’s atmosphere, the sense of peace I got whenever I walked in. It smells of incense, and it’s always warm. Cozy. Rei made space for me there. I’ve made friends there. It feels like home.
Since I’ve been in my yoga teacher training, I have not had much time to get to LY. I have to practice with Laurie and her teachers at Bonda, which I understand. And Laurie’s also been understanding– she explained that she doesn’t mean to steal us away from our home studios. But in order to fully absorb the methods she is teaching us, we need to attend her classes to see and feel how they work. It makes sense. Early on she explained that the deeper into training we get, the more confused we’ll be taking classes elsewhere. I didn’t get at the time, but now I do.
Laurie’s big on energy. How do you feel during a class? How do you feel afterward? She maintains that each class we teach should follow a bell curve of energy, starting off slowly to warm up, beginning to build heat in the body as we lead our students to a peak pose, then bringing them back down as we allow them to release some of that heat, letting go of the things that no longer serve them.
She also has very stringent ideas of the ways that postures affect our anatomical structure. Moving between certain poses compromises the stability of the body’s joints, which we never want to happen to our students. Our responsibility is to carry them safely through the class so that they can gain a greater understanding of themselves, of their bodies.
Not everybody teaches with the mindfulness that Laurie has instilled in us. This doesn’t mean they are bad teachers–maybe they just never learned what we have learned. But what I find interesting lately is that, on the rare occasion that I attend a class with a teacher who is not Laurie (or one of her trainees), I can tell the difference.
The picture above was taken by one of my favorite teachers prior to the last class of hers that I attended. I love her to pieces. She is so creative, and so energetic. But during that class, my body felt the distinctions that Laurie pointed out to us. The class was fun, but when I got home that evening, my energy was scattered. My mind was relaxed, but my body felt anxious. I realized it was because of the rollercoaster nature of the class I’d just taken. We began on the floor with restorative, yin-like poses, then did a variation on Surya Namaskar B, then went to the floor again, then did some backbending, etc. It was exhausting.
Then there were things that she said; I heard them and thought, “No. I’m not doing that. That’s dangerous.” For example, she cued us to Janu Sirsasana and said that we should flex our feet so much that our heels lifted off the floor. But I now know doing this causes the knees to hyper-extend, which is not good– especially for me, with my bum knee. So I didn’t do it that way. Throughout the entire two-hour class, I did what found to be safe for me and my practice.
Since that class, I’ve been thinking about the idea of “home.” What does it mean, to have a home studio? I know what I thought it meant: Living Yoga was the only place where I’d practiced with any regularity. It was the only place I knew, and I loved it. I still do.
But that doesn’t mean it’s my home.
I’m learning: when it comes to this practice, I carry it with me, wherever I go. I love LY,and I will continue to practice there. I’ll probably continue to practice at Bonda, even when my teacher training ends. But I’ve practiced on my own– at home, trying to teach myself inversions. I do several rounds of Surya Namaskar A when I wake up in the morning, if I feel I need it, wherever I am– in Trinidad, in South Africa. I sit at my desk at work and practice pranayama. My practice is with me.
I am my home.