It’s 2006 and I’m living in Chicago trying to get in shape for my NY wedding. I was young and vain and cared way too much about how I looked. I popped in a Denise Austen yoga tape every morning until I had it memorized. It was my first introduction to yoga and I thought I pretty much had it mastered.
After the wedding, I go to my first official group yoga class with my parents in Brazil. They are living there as ex-Pat’s and knew a lot of Portuguese already. I’ve always been flexible and although I have no idea what the instructor is saying other than “Espire” = Breath, I feel overly confident (thanks so much Denise Austen.) At one point in the class I’m in a full split and the instructor bends over to say something to my Mother. She smiles and nods back. I turn my head around (still in a split) and whisper: “Was she wondering if I was a professional?” My Mom rolls her eyes and whispers back “No. She told me to relax my shoulders.” During the resting pose at the end I hem and haw and wonder when it will be over.
It’s 2008 I’m newly married, living in Charlestown, MA. I’m working from a home office with way too much time on my hands. I start going to the yoga studio down the street religiously during my “time off” at “lunch.” I get addicted to a Vinyasa class taught by a young 24 year old gay male named Gabriel. I don’t feel right without listening to his kind words about the art and practice of yoga. I learned it was so much more than a work-out. I learned to calm my anxiety and I learned to finally relax during Savasana. Gabriel dies in 2009 the day before my birthday and I’m inspired to start teaching on my own in his memory. I book my training class and begin a long soul-searching journey over the course of 6 months.
It’s 2011 and I’ve been teaching in that same studio in Charlestown for 3 years and I love it. I become pregnant and the only thing that brings me peace and connection to the life inside of me is my practice. The owner of the studio remembers me mentioning I’d love to own one day. We buy the studio from her 6 months after we welcome our first baby.
It’s 2012 and I’m overwhelmed with everything that comes with ownership: scheduling, teachers, marketing, events, and the cracks in the ceiling I can’t stop fixating on. I continue to take a yoga class daily. I am still flexible and strong after birth and I marvel at how the human body bounces back. I am thankful for my practice.
It’s 2013 and I give birth to our second baby. I am overwhelmed with scheduling, teachers, students, the asking and the arguments, the complaints and still, those cracks in the ceiling. I add in Barre to the schedule and develop a “BYOB” program where Mom’s can bring their own babies to the class. I immerse myself in the business side of the studio. Barre was my yoga. My son is attached to my hip at the studio every day.
It’s 2014 and I can’t get my landlord to renew my lease. I make one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make and sell the business. I am haunted nightly by students and community members who are sad to see their beloved sacred space go.
It’s 2015 and the studio space remains vacant. I have still not been paid by the woman who I “sold” the business to, and I still can’t walk into a yoga studio without disgust. I answer the question “would you ever open a studio in your new hometown” with an eye roll and a chuckle.
It’s 2016 and I meet a friend from Charlestown for a drink. She reminds me of the great things I achieved at the old space. She reminds me of how many souls it touched and all of the good that happened there. I roll out yoga mats or whatever we have in front of us for the kids after dinner and teach them what “Namaste” means. We stretch and we bend and we have fun doing it. We sing “Om Nam Shante Om” to calm down before bed. This is my yoga, now.
It’s 2017. I have three kids. I have a job. I serve on 2 boards. I volunteer. I meet my friends and we put our kids in a babysitting room. We line up behind a red bag hanging from the ceiling. We glove up. We sweat. We laugh. We whisper jokes. We nod our heads to music that reminds us of being in our 20’s. We punch until our mind forgets but our body remembers. It’s exactly 45 minutes and it’s all I have. Boxing is my yoga, now.
I will go back to a yoga studio, eventually. I will find the calmness within me that I’ve found once before. I know the practice will always be a part of me, and that the cracks in the ceiling are just part of the process.