It still hits me hard how different our lives are going to look in six weeks or so as we move to Providence. To stay positive, I’m focusing on the possibilities that lie ahead. The sea. Eugene’s shortened commute. Taking yoga class. I’m making a promise to myself to ease into this new place by embracing being a student again. When I opened Yoga Dear, I taught 12+ classes a week and, now, I teach four + my work with private clients, so I truly am excited to learn and grow.
However...I’m noticing this crazy trend.
You see, I’ve started reaching out to friends and friends of friends to start to get connected. Who lives where? Which neighborhoods do you like? And, of course, where do you practice yoga? I’m more interested in the yoga scene than restaurants. I’ve received a bunch of messages in the past few days about which places to go and you know what’s interesting? Every single studio recommended to me only teaches one style - Power.
Is there anything wrong with Power Yoga? Absolutely not. In fact, I used to only practice Heated Power Yoga. I’ve taken its classes all over the country. That was my entry point as a yoga student. I practiced 3+ times per week in a room heated to 96 degrees. I did 57 chaturangas in an hour. I loved it.
Back to Providence. Now I’m intrigued...is that all they offer? Because y’all know I crave the spiritual, the yoga connections to everyday life. I started researching more in the Providence area and found that most spaces are primarily focused on a Power Yoga (aka a fast moving practice) and/or in a heated room. And, that’s fine, but here’s the thing: That’s not my main jam anymore. Why? Because my definition of Power has changed.
About a year into my yoga practice (around 10 years ago), I also started taking class at my graduate school’s gym. I can vividly remember the brown haired, fellow graduate student yoga teacher. She opened me up to all these layers of yoga -- the whole practice -- and it was then that I really started to notice a change in my anxiety, my stress levels. The class was a challenging vinyasa style, full of breathwork and a long savasana. She showed me what Power in a practice really meant, although I consistently did Power Yoga for a few years after until my body couldn’t handle it anymore. That’s a story for another time.
You guys, there is nothing inherently wrong with a Power Yoga practice. Every now and then, that’s what I want -- a hot practice in my sunroom, a picked up pace. And, getting some cardio movement going plus sweating is GOOD for the body. But, to me, true Power doesn’t come from moving super fast or practicing in a sweaty room. And, if it’s calories you’re after, I’ve read research to prove you actually don’t burn more just by being hot.
The beauty of this practice is that it is a full experience, a journey towards inner wellbeing and physical health. The physical practice of movement, aka asana, is just ONE piece to the eight slice pie. We practice ethics, philosophy, breathing, postures, and different levels of meditation; and if we’re ONLY focusing on the physical, we’re missing it.
I can say this, because I missed it. The “it” being the healing, restoring, as well as the strengthening and rejuvenating of body, mind, and soul. I missed out on adding in slower practices and meditation. I missed out on the fact that moving intentionally can be even more challenging than moving at breakspeed. I missed that the true healing Power of yoga isn’t how many postures you do or how hot a room is or if you can pop into side crow. Disclaimer: If you’re a Power Yoga aficionado, you do you. It’s just not the only practice for me anymore. And, I encourage everyone to try multiple styles to see what works for them.
But, I do want to say this: When I made breathing and meditation and restorative and reading the ethics and listening to my body a priority rather than pounding it into the mat, my health got better. My anxiety decreased. I could manage my stress better. It changed my life.
So, to be honest, I’m nervous. I’m nervous about finding a place to practice in Providence. I’m nervous about stepping into a new place and sharing my message, my approach towards teaching which is to challenge the body, but also acknowledge (and move past) the limitations of the mind. Or maybe that’s the opportunity? The possibility? Time will tell. For now, dear yogis, please think of how yoga has proven powerful to you beyond your physical practice. What has yoga taught you? How are you better because of it?
P.S. Thank you to ALL the recommendations we've received for our impending move - cafes, restaurants, yoga studios, daycares, schools, doctors. Thank you thank you thank you. I'm excited to check them out (yep, even the Power Yoga studios). ;) Soon, I'll be asking some more questions of YOU, to continue to get to know you and better serve your needs. Stay tuned for that letter. xoxox.