We are at one of the two times in the year when the night and day are of equal length: Fall Equinox, 9/22. We are at one of many times in history when the darkness of human nature is working hard to push out the light of wisdom…though who I call the pushers of darkness seem to see this same story in reverse.
This is the unresolvable journey of our earthly times – an ongoing tension between opposing realities. As the day turns to night, the sun’s path is a natural reminder that light doesn’t completely disappear. Very simply, it goes out of sight and we experience the darkness. As we know, the sun exists still and will return. As night and day take turns, we have an ongoing reminder of this frozen concept of a world of duality. And in these days of what appear to be unending heaviness from current events, history highlights this constant looping of dark and light; a forever-tale of human existence.
A deep bow of gratitude for the life and work of RBG. Her passing days ago has further shaken the uncertainty of our political and even personal sense of protection and well-being. To let this unhinge our sense of purpose would be a disservice to the courageous path that she paved.
Imagine walking into a room where no space was made for you but you walked in anyway – that was RBG. Because she took that step into the classroom dominated by men, the light went on in a way it hadn’t before and history changed.
Happy International Day of Peace
Today is International Day of Peace – 9/21. This is the 21st year honoring the world effort to promote peace: A collective understanding to bring peace forward which continues to be a less popular effort. War gets much more attention. Actions around promoting peace feel underfunded and less advertised in comparison. The price of our peace seems more about spending billions and billions of dollars on the war machine. Some would say that’s HOW we maintain our peace, yet I also like to keep the light on for the less popular conversation where we don’t require war to get to peace. I’m convinced that won’t happen in any of our lifetimes, but the vision is there!
And speaking of keeping the lights on, Mukunda Yoga Center has opened the doors for studio rental and video recording. I’m reminded of the purpose and intention of creating this space and even with all the shifts and changes this year, the aim to make space for conscious activism and promotion of well-being is stronger than ever.
What’s Next for Yoga Studios?
I’ve had separate meetings in MYC with local yoga teachers Jeremy Falk, Danni Pomplun and Yvonne Kingsley. And phone calls with Steve Pyka and Darren Main plus an urban hike with Swami Ramananda to further discuss what direction we see yoga studios moving into with all these changes here in SF and in the world. It’s a conversation many are having and I look forward to engaging in more to help imagine and co-create what’s next.
The days before the election will undoubtedly be filled with tension and more strange surprises. Maintaining a sense of grounding and connection to justice and human dignity will be needed more than ever. Other forces will continue to aim, with all their might to destabilize, generate fear and even tear common bonds from within our own like-minded community. To let that happen is to let those outside forces succeed.
When the earth itself is commenting on our behavior and while the entire world has for a brief moment touched on a common experience with the pandemic, the chance to be humbled and open to a higher intelligence is possible. But it is also a moment where the uncomfortable and unknown lead some towards checking out or denial. This can become reckless, and the addictive behavior of trying to get the high of a past experience can seduce and reduce our mindspace into short-wave survival mode.
We may cling to the familiar even when it’s abusive, destructive or simply outdated. Even when we hope for a different result, our actions produce the insanity that leave us stuck in our habitual patterns. That can’t be good for the change we seek! In my experience, I understand how I lacked the tools or knowledge of how to actually change and it feels more like a work in progress kind of thing versus suffering for perfection. That’s why a steady practice, common community and curiosity for the spiritual teachings may offer insight and comfort like nothing else.
Studios are closing and many small businesses in particular are suffering right now. There is going to be a new landscape for studio spaces and a lot of figuring out how to keep going even when it doesn’t seem possible to bring in enough students or clients to make ends meet. As many of you know, I’m a much bigger fan of creating small group studios in terms of teaching the practices. I always loved taking at the large 130+ student-filled studios because of the amazing energy that happens in a space like that. I do miss that and know we’ll see it again in some way or another. But for being able to relay the teachings and build personal connections, limiting the student to teacher ratio to around 30 and under feels better to me. Just my take and maybe because that’s how I learned and enjoy being able to maintain relationships. Teaching online is of course a different thing, especially if it’s pre-recorded and people whom we may never meet are benefiting from the class. That’s great! I’m all for it and love that the many options are available. So it seems that each teacher would have to figure out what is possible within the many options of sharing the teachings. Not everyone likes the online option, teacher or student. I didn’t when I was being coached to do that 4 years ago. But I’m so glad I learned some around that so I could be in a decent position when SIP was ordered. My business is going very well right now thanks to my private clients who are nearly preferring the online option in order to practice more regularly. I also feel called to build a community for teachers, educators, wellness leaders and conscious activists to be able to get their message out in the world. I want to help support those teachers who are ready to build their online presence and to offer a physical and virtual environment that’s conducive to that experience.
In terms of the actual studios, well, that’s where we’ll all need to keep brainstorming together. What will come of some of these empty spaces that are perfect yoga studios, boutique fitness spaces, etc? Will landlords consider a break in rent so we don’t lose so many cool, unique businesses that help make SF what we are? Thankfully, some landlords are doing that but it requires a real moment of reflection and a desire to do good more than a desire to pad the bank account. Everyone’s financial well-being is different, I get that. I’ve had to look at the level of risk I’m comfortable with in opening a studio! Some people wouldn’t have gone this route especially if they knew a pandemic was coming!!! But for me, it has only created more inspiration to figure this massive puzzle out. My mission is strong and I feel an unwavering energy to bring the teachings of yoga and other messages of well-being to the community and beyond. That energy isn’t interrupted when things go “wrong,” at least not for now. Life has shown me that the rough times help to shape and strengthen character for knowing how not to be seduced by the good times. Thanks to my friend and landlord, I’ve been able to keep going and I honor the work he has done within his journey where he is able to be of service around this process versus to focus on his own self-interest and white privilege. I’m grateful for the encouragement and guidance from all of my friends and community who wish to be involved. It is only this way that anything like this is possible.
We will get through this one way or another. How we get through and what we focus on as our guiding principle will determine much of what it will look like. Is it the top dollar or the top calling? Is it serving the studio and the owners or servicing the students and the teachers? Is it to feel more comfortable ourselves or to be grateful for what we have and help bring comfort and be of service to others? Time will tell. The process we go through will be revealing and I know that I’d like to be a part of the voice that says, let’s work together and find a way together. The mission of yoga hasn’t ever stopped. The teachings have been carried for thousands of years and I’m certain they will continue to do so. Our job is to figure out our own relationship to them and how we can evolve in a more useful way that benefits many and harms no one.
Dive into your practice (or start building one!)
and develop trust that within you,
the wisdom is accessible,
the power of right action is available
and the light of good is still present
even when there is darkness.
For all who celebrate the Jewish New Year and as a symbol of beginnings that may be helpful to us all: May this new year somehow become a sweet one, where our care for self and one another dispels ignorance and the chance to start over together, breaks open our hearts to feel whole again.
Let’s stay connected,