Thanks to one of our Revolutionary yoga instructors, Julie Natalini, I was able to talk over Zoom to a few P.E. classes from Rincon Valley Middle School at the end of their semester. They were just wrapping up a unit on yoga, and the P.E. teachers said the kids really enjoyed a longer exposure to yoga rather than the week or so they would normally get in a "normal" year.
If anything is true, this year has not been normal by any of our known standards. The kids, Zooming from home, had been practicing yoga in their homes and had some great questions for me, including what was my favorite yoga pose and how many times should someone practice a week. One of the best questions asked was, what's the benefit of practicing yoga in a studio?
In a year where none of us have been practicing in our studio since mid-March, the answer to this question has a lot of levels.
A yoga studio, or shala, which means home in Sanskrit, the language of yoga, provides a clear, undisturbed and clean space for the yoga practice. In this quiet, calm and carefully detailed room, students are removed from the distractions of daily life, from children, pets or spouses or roommates that may disturb a focused practice, and they are provided on invitation to drop into themselves a little deeper.
On another level, the yoga studio provides a center for community to gather. You'll be greeted warmly when you enter, and maybe you'll see a familiar face already seated on their mat across the room. Yoga is a practice that asks
us to remove layers of ourselves that can obscure our truest sense of self, purpose and intuition. When we feel safe and secure, we can more easily shed those layers and be present with our authenticity. It's not an easy ask. But the studio experience at Revolution Yoga sets an intention to provide everyone who walks in with a clean slate, patience and the safety to feel comfortable and secure.
Since the pandemic began and we retreated to our homes, many of us have carved out a space to practice yoga. It might not be a big space, and it might not be private, but we have come to understand on a deeper level that we can practice yoga anywhere. And this is just for the physical practice. The other seven limbs of the 8-fold path of yoga don't require much space at all outside of your own skin.
I was grateful to get this question from an RVMS student because it made me reflect again on why I wanted to open Revolution Yoga in the first place. It reminded me of how a shared space dedicated to this ancient, sacred practice and cultivating community is so nourishing. It made me hope even harder that we will be able to return to our humble space sooner rather than later and that people will feel safe sharing that space again.
To practice yoga with other people is to share an experience that is at first your own and then collective. Hearing your neighbor's ujaii breath can encourage you to breathe a little deeper, cracking up at someone's off-the-cuff joke in the middle of a difficult sequence and even feeding off the energy that swells when we come together are all part of the studio experience that keeps me wanting to share this practice and bringing people together.
And then there's the chanting. It's really hard to chant together on Zoom. It's really hard to hear the harmonium over Zoom. Group chanting is one of the elements of our practice that I have grown to love and have been incorporating it into my classes more and more. I cannot wait for us to be able to do this again. Even the simplest chant of Om has a profound effect on our psyche and nervous system, and doing it in a group experience multiplies the magnitude.
There is a lot to look forward to when we return to the studio. I look forward to seeing your faces in person, away from the little digital boxes on my Zoom screen. I look forward to sharing all the benefits of collective practice, of sharing space, of mingling energies. I look forward to welcoming you all in, with open arms, with care, with a deep intention to be in union.