It has been a hard few weeks to be at peace with the world, for reasons that we all know well. One more bit of news that recently swept through my awareness was disheartening to hear. Semperviva, one of Vancouver’s oldest and most respected yoga studios, has closed its doors permanently, unable to weather the recent impact on it’s business.
Semperviva holds a special place in my heart because I taught my first yoga class there (that is, my first class to people other than my roommates). The memory is both uncomfortable and uplifting. Uncomfortable, because it was 2002 and I was very young, not as tied to time as I am now, and it escaped my notice that on that Sunday morning daylight savings time had just ended. I carefully prepared, took my time biking to the studio, cleared my mind in the beautiful spring morning, only to discover I was actually ½ an hour late for the class that I thought I was ½ an hour early for.
Uplifting, because another teacher who was present to participate in the class seamlessly started the practice for me, and passed it over when I finally arrived, with perfect grace and no blame. THAT was my first experience of the love and support a teaching community offers, and I was awed. I can still picture that room when I entered, full of a staggering array of bodies, all curled into child’s pose, all breathing in and out in perfect, uncontrived unison. THAT was my first time feeling the energy of a group practice from the position of guide and witness. It immediately calmed my anxiety and self-doubt to a place of acceptance and calm determination.
We all know, as students, what that collective vibe feels like when we share a group yoga or meditation practice. The energetic support from those practicing around us makes the attempt to calm the mind easier, the physical body stronger, balance simpler to maintain, and Savasana easier to slip into. The effect is hard to put into words, but we’ve all felt that magic. In comparison, a home practice can seem like a struggle, an on-line teacher a poor substitution.
But a home practice is a beautiful thing as well. There’s a freedom to it, and a fluidity. As the mother of four young children, I can’t always carve out time for a studio class, but I can easily sit for 10 minutes in meditation before I make my morning tea. I can unroll my mat for 25 min of breath and movement while the kids are playing, or settle into 10 min of restorative poses before bed. Honestly once you start practicing at home, it’s hard to stop. The call of the mat is always there, and it becomes impossible to ignore.
If you are beginning a home yoga practice, take the time to set up a special space. Leave your mat out if you can, have it in a beautiful spot, with everything you need for comfort nearby. Try starting your yoga practice with a small ritual: a lit candle, a silent Om. These little preparations will help you be successful. By nature we want our habits to be easy, so make it easy, and make it regular so it will stick. Don’t let lack of space be your limitation, the footprint of your mat is all you need. And if you don’t have the mindset or motivation to lead yourself into practice, look on-line. Sometimes a guide and group is the key, not to mention an established start and end time.
I love the vision of yogis everywhere bringing their practice home, right to the hearth, right to the heart, where it matters the most. You may even notice that the ones closest to you start to pay attention and begin to create their own home practices as well.