A Return or a Re-Turning?

Posted by on Jun 1, 2020 in carson city yoga studio, home practice, yoga philosophy | 6 comments

A Return or a Re-Turning?

The following blog post began as a journal entry and became a letter to you, if you are here and reading. It is from Amy, owner of Carson City Yoga. There are a lot of words, and no pictures. It is long, and there are more questions than answers, so consider this fair warning. Read at your own risk, and then, if you can stand to be uncomfortable, go ask your own questions.


Dear Friends –

I want to to tell you this today. I want to tell you that my heart hurts. I want to tell you that I am feeling such deep sadness. I am about to send out a newsletter to announce the re-opening of our studio, which is in itself a joyful thing, and yet I am struggling with sending it out in the midst of the current pain that is being expressed all over the country right now.

Over the last few days, I have been at the studio preparing for our return. I have been at my computer putting together protocols and information, and updating the web site. I have been meeting with our advisory team to get everything up and running. It’s hard work but there is joy in it… joy for our studio, joy in the opportunity to practice yoga together again, in a shared space.

And yet…. I am having a really hard time focusing just on the business of yoga. When we shut down, I said (pretty much to anyone who would listen) that the business of yoga is not really essential. It is the practice of yoga that matters.

I really do believe that. We don’t need a studio. We can practice at home, or anywhere. And yet, to have the space to share a practice is such a gift. I return to the business of yoga now because it is a way for us to come together in practice. And as the return is happening in the midst of deep unrest around us, I am asking myself…. what does it mean to practice together?

Over the past couple of months we have learned (if we didn’t know already) what it means to live with uncertainty. And as we move through the phases that take us out of the COVID shutdown, that uncertainty persists. All around us is deep unrest. Nothing is certain, and change is inevitable.

So I wonder… if change is inevitable, can we play a bigger part in the direction of that change? I am aware of what’s going on in the world… the anger and discontent. The deep racism in this county. The pain suffered by black and brown bodies, perpetuated by systems of whiteness, by those of us in white bodies. This week, I cried with my black friends, listening to them tell of their deep sadness and exhaustion. I feel heartbroken, and I know my heartbreak is nothing compared to theirs.

This question is with me every day… as we move out of this “shutdown” do we just return to business as usual?

As a business owner, and as a person who cares deeply about this world, I can’t just return to what was. I believe we need to slow down. To feel, think, listen. To learn. To change the way we do things.

This “Great Pause” as we called it, when everything shut down due to COVID, seemed to me to be an opportunity. I don’t mean that callously… for those who were impacted by death or financial loss, this was real, and hard. And still, and maybe because of that, shouldn’t we take the opportunity to ask questions? Why are our economic and health systems failing? Why do we let busy-ness and money take more of our time than we give to our family and to love? Why are the people who get paid the least amount of money the ones that we are now calling “essential workers” and if they are essential, shouldn’t we be paying them more? If this short time of “shutdown” means the earth begins to heal itself and we see changes for good in the environment, shouldn’t we be paying closer attention to what we do as we “return” to work? Why do black bodies get murdered for infractions that would result in a slap on the wrist for white bodies? Breathing is sacred, and is not just for a privileged few. When someone cries out that they can’t breathe, shouldn’t we listen? Shouldn’t we be paying closer attention?

These are not new questions. For me, they are just demanding more attention now. I can’t ignore them anymore.

What’s it all got to do with yoga? What does yoga have to do with injustice or climate change? And what does it mean to bring the practice of yoga into the business of yoga? Can the business of yoga be guided by the practice of yoga? What IS the practice of yoga?

Here, at the intersection of COVID and climate change and racism and economy and immigration and death and life and breath, and well, everything…

What. Are. We. Doing?

Insert Pause.

Breathe, please. Feel the ground. Be here, in your body. Breathe.

So.

What if we let yoga take us deeper into our own self study? Not in a psychology sort of way, but into a deeper connection to our spirituality and our humanity. What if yoga is a tool that helps us take action in the world? If yoga says “we are all one” can we open our yoga studios to a greater diversity of bodies and ideas? If yoga is about truth and ethics, can we look straight on at the truth of what is around us, and come together to ask deeper questions about that?

We think of yoga as a place to go for our own self healing and to find peace, and it is that. Finding respite is an important part of yoga. But it doesn’t need to end there. Yoga is also about service, and action, and impact. (And, if we so desperately need a place of respite, maybe we should be asking questions about why we are in such desperate need…. )

I know this post has more questions than answers. But that’s important. We need to create space after the question and before the answer. We need to let go of our addiction to answers and allow the questions to stir up something new, maybe possibilities that we haven’t seen yet.

Are you still with me? Because here are a few more questions… As we move forward, and we will, and as we find joy, and we will, who are we and who do we want to be as a community? What questions can we ask that will guide us to a deeper practice of yoga?

I invite you to ask the questions with me. I started with the question of what it means to practice together. I wonder…. can we use each other in a collective practice of asking questions and exploring possibilities?

My heart is heavy today as I sit with the suffering. And yet there is also the joy of coming together in practice. I feel the joy of being alive even in the face of death. I feel the joy of standing in my garden, even as I feel the grief moving through. Yoga makes space for all of it… from the suffering to the love, from the grief to the grace.

Breathe again.

Because now I want to ask you… how is your heart today? How are you feeling, and what is up for you? I would love to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment here if you like, or send a private message. How are you? Where are you? What’s up for you? How is your yoga practice?

You all… I love you. Thank you for being here, and if you read this far, thanks for that too. Thanks for being part of this community. As we open the studio today, I am excited to see you and to share the practice, and…

Here we are. At the intersection of everything. Not just a return to the studio, but a re-turning. A turning inward, outward, and toward. I don’t know exactly what that means, or what that will look like, but here we go.

You ready?

6 Comments

  1. Your thoughts deeply moved me. I too am sad for the same reasons you mentioned. I went to my garden to breath, I feel so bad for the planet…it had a short, cleansing respite during shutdown and now it will begin to suffer again…I can hardly stand to think about it. I watch & feel the pain of protesters, then watch another element, with their private agendas, disrespect the sadness of others…I can’t stop crying. I am 79 yrs old and feel healthy and grateful, however, it will be a while before I feel comfortable returning to life as I knew it. I miss the studio, the people, teachers, classes and structure. I will review in a few weeks and hope I can see my way to returning to something other than the grocery store. May all be blessed during opening. Hali

    • Hali, thank you for speaking out. I feel your sadness, and I think we need to make space for that, and for the grief. It is part of moving forward, part of finding our way into something new. You are always part of this community, and I look forward to seeing you when the time is right for you. So much love your way. And enjoy that garden! – Amy

  2. I’m ready!. you are right. we all have a chance for a re-start and how we choose to use it is up to us. do we keep the chaos or choose love, kindness, patience and peace? I will choose the latter. thank you Amy for your peaceful and positive outlook. yoga on!

    • Vicki, thanks for posting. Yes, yoga on… head first into all the questions!

  3. Hi Amy. Thank you for this. I read it last night and somehow your words gave me a bit of focus. I too have been heartbroken by all that is taking place here. It’s as if the universe is rumbling in protest for all the disaster we manage to invoke through our self-absorption. If, in that rumbling, some of the debris could be shaken loose, that would be a good thing. But I wonder. I am fond of the phrase, “We’re Better Than This,” but more often, these days, I wonder if we are. A terrible thought and not quite me. Throughout my life, even in the darkest moments, there has been a glimmer, no matter how faint, of hope and conviction that I, they, we, have a best self. It is just a matter of peeling off the layers of personal and institutional damage to get to it. These days though are really testing that conviction. And so yoga. I have practiced for close to 15 years. More recently, I am finding its connections to community which we all so desperately need, whether we know it or not. I am glad to know that this yoga community is one I can embrace on a level of personal beliefs. And so, to the continued walk forward. Blessings for all of us.

    • Oy, Patt. I too have had that thought… that maybe we are not better than this. We certainly have not shown it up to now. And yet…. I hold hope, or maybe its not so much hope as faith. Faith that we have somewhere within us the ability to do things differently. Not to go back, but to go forward. Is it too late? I don’t know, but I think whether it is or not, we do what we can do. Maybe its time, well not even maybe… it is time for us to work together. See where that leads. Thank you for being here. – Amy

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