It may sound strange to say that I’m as happy and excited about the future now that I just sold Rishi Yoga than I was when I opened my studio in June 2014. Not even five years later, and I’m selling the studio I put so much love and work into? That’s the question I’ve been hearing for months, while the ownership transfer process was going on, so here’s a little bit of background on why and how I made the decision to sell Rishi Yoga and focus on just teaching my classes (at Rishi Yoga, of course).
The first thing to get out of the way is: This is a good thing! A great thing, really! I’ve been hearing reactions that range from shock to tears to disbelief to the occasional sigh of relief (the latter coming mostly from people who have owned small businesses). See, I never really wanted to own a business, or run one, or (gasp!) manage people. If you asked me five years ago what my worst punishment would be, being a business person and manager would have been in the top five, and I’m not kidding.
So why in the world did I open a yoga studio then?! I woke up in the middle of the night on my 36th birthday and just had the thought that I must open my own studio. I know, it sounds airy fairy, but it’s the way things started. I knew better than to ignore that call, not that it would have been possible to ignore it. When I was 30, about six months after I started a regular yoga practice, I had a similarly crazy and intense thought that seemed to come out of nowhere and practically forced me to become a yoga teacher, which I did, about a year later. Becoming a yogi and then a yoga teacher had been the most transformative and grace-infused experience I had in my life, so how could I have shut down the inner voice that told me to open my own studio? By that time, I had learned the hard way that trusting my intuition would certainly behoove me.
There was no way going around it: I had to create a yoga studio that would fit my standards of what a yoga studio should be. Because otherwise, I wasn’t going to teach at a studio at all; not because of the way the existing studios were but because of the way I am. I wanted a place that would offer warmth, compassion and friendship without the annoying new-age spiritual-sounding platitudes that more often than not turn out to be a lot of talk and not so much walk. I wanted a place where all of us, teachers and students (is there really a difference?) can be real, raw if we have to be, honest with ourselves and one another, and laugh and cry without fear of being judged or overlooked. I wanted my fellow teachers to be nothing like the run of the mill Instagram yoga Barbies and wannabe celebrities, but to genuinely care about people first, and be badass yoga teachers second. I wanted to create a place that would draw in people, students and teachers alike, who are tired of looking outside of themselves for themselves (and that’s not a typo). I wanted a studio that treated yoga like the sacred, inward looking practice that it is, rather than a new exercise fad. I knew I wasn’t going to have a trendy yoga studio, and that was exactly the point.
I have to express my endless gratitude for my husband, Daniel, my best friend and biggest supporter, without whom this whole yoga studio thing would have been much harder or, might as well be honest, impossible to pull off. Here we were, two introverts and semi-hermits, neither of whom wanted to run a business or manage people…But my heart said I had to and his beautiful heart said he had to carry me through it all.
I’m so very proud of what Rishi Yoga has become. Sometimes it takes leaving town for a week and coming back to really be reminded of the enormous amount of love that’s packed in that little space. That love doesn’t come from me or any one particular person or thing in there, but from all of us who have been baring our souls on our mats in there for the last five years, infusing the space with realness and truth. There is definitely no other place I want to go to teach my classes.
Just like the urge to become a yoga teacher, and then the knowing I just had to open a studio, it became perfectly clear to me one day during last summer that it was time to let go of the business side of things and focus on my love for and dedication to teaching. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that the business side of things didn’t wear me out…not because it was hard work but because I never wanted to spend my days doing that sort of stuff. And I didn’t want my frustration with the business aspect to affect my love for teaching yoga, so the answer was obvious. Lucky for me, the perfect person, Carol O’Brien, just came into the picture at the right time. I know Carol and her husband, Eric, will do a much better job as owners and managers than I did (that won’t take much!), while maintaining the vibe that has become the signature of Rishi Yoga.
Back to my point that this is not just a good thing, but a really great thing: How can I not be overjoyed now that I get to simplify my life by just teaching yoga, and do that in the studio that not only feels like home but IS home to me? I may have just found a way to have my cake and eat it too!
Some of the common questions I have been asked in the last six months now seem almost silly to answer, but I will do it anyway.
“Aren’t you scared the studio will change?” No. I don’t live in fear and have been actually working hard to undo fear in my mind. I do get scared by rattlesnakes, but that’s a separate point : )
“Are you going to teach yoga elsewhere?” No way. I don’t want to be owner because I don’t want the owner’s responsibilities, not because I don’t like Rishi Yoga. I love Rishi Yoga! But I think that’s clear already.
“Will you stop teaching yoga?” Not for as long as I can physically show up to teach my classes, and that’s looking pretty good for the foreseeable future!
Thank you ALL for being my teachers in the last five years (or longer). I could write another (way too long) post about how grateful I am for having made so many friends in Reno, pretty much all of whom I have met through my yoga teaching. May we all continue to grow in love and gratitude for ourselves and for one another.
The winter solstice is the acknowledgement and the celebration of the darkest night of the year. Yet most traditions and most people focus today on the return of the light. Why are we uncomfortable with and afraid of darkness?
Yes, light is what we are in reality. And in reality, there’s nothing but light. But within the illusion of time and space and separation, we have made darkness real and therefore it is real for us.
And it will be so until we stop repressing and denying our shadow and start simply looking at it with the eyes of patience and compassion.
The darkness in us is not an evil force but simply parts of ourselves that we mistakenly judged as bad and sinful and wrong, and out of fear of facing those parts, we threw them into the basement of our being and locked the door.
Going back into the basement and turning on the light, we see that there are no monsters there at all.
But to get to the point of turning on the light, we have to first face the fact that there is a basement to begin with, and then go into it and face the darkness. Only then can we turn on the light and see that the monsters were real only in our imagination.
Darkness is not the problem, but our denial of its existence is. Darkness is not to be integrated, but simply looked at from a different perspective. Once the light is turned on, darkness is gone, just like a dream is gone once we wake up.
As A Course in Miracles teaches, “The light is in you. Darkness can cover it, but cannot put it out.”
There’s nothing to fear. Time to start the uncovering.
On this last day of fall, contemplating confusion and clarity. On the heels of the old, at the threshold of what’s to come… Do I give in to restlessness or simply rest in ambivalence? Do I take the mind’s haziness as a mistake, something in need of fixing, or do I stay patient and trust this soul incubation process? Does the heart really care what thoughts pass by, when the heart only knows the gentle embrace of compassion and love? I’d rather wait in confusion than bask in the false glory of my fear based conclusions. Clarity doesn’t come from the mind that so fervently seeks it, but from the heart that surrenders to the end of seeking. Is clarity then really much different than confusion? The mind that separates those two is the cause of all turmoil. The mind that separates anything in two is the devil on my shoulder. But that same mind, provided it yields to the guidance of the unbound heart, is also what sets me free. I can see a coin with two sides. Or I can just see a coin. Maybe clarity is nothing but the total acceptance of confusion. What could love do, other than see through the veil of illusion and separation and love it all? What will you and I do, once we see through that same veil? What else will be there to do but let love be, no matter what form it seems to take? Clarity at last.
I love nothing more than when my yogis ask me after class to share what I read or tell them more about what I talked about during class. My purpose as a yoga teacher has always been to share this practice as a way of life rather than just ego-boosting physical exercise. The practice of 108 sun salutations is a perfect example of taking our yoga way beyond the physical — although the physical part is certainly intense, no matter how many sun salutations you complete and regardless of how those salutations look like. The form of our practice never matters, but the content does. Which is why the bread and butter of my 108 sun salutations practice are the nine dedications that precede each round of 12 sun salutations.
Several of my yogis have asked me to share these dedications since our Fall Equinox 108 sun salutations yesterday, so they can keep digging deeper into their own yoga practice during their daily life, where the power of yoga really hits home if we only allow it to. Thank you, friends, for practicing with me and for living your yoga. May we all continue to unbind our minds and drop deeper into the one unbound heart we share.
I open my heart and offer my light to my human, imperfect self. Deep in my gut, I know that achieving perfection as a human being is not only impossible, but an unnecessary burden that keeps me stuck in fear and self loathing. Deep in my heart, I know that as a soul, I am progressing on my path just as I planned and that every experience I had and am yet to have is a perfectly chosen piece of my soul’s mosaic. I am a perfect expression of my divine nature in this imperfect human form. And so it is.
I open my heart and offer my light to all my fears, and all the aspects of myself I consider dark and negative. Remembering my own choice to experience the full spectrum of human emotion — the so called positive as well as the so called negative — I’m now making a promise to myself to own all the aspects of my personality that I have disowned out of fear of being seen as unworthy of love. In the name of love, which is what I am, I allow every fear, every feeling and every thought that arises to be fully integrated in my experience, so I can live with integrity, knowing that darkness is simply unawakened light and fear is nothing but a confused expression of love. And so it is.
I open my heart and offer my light to every obstacle yet to appear on my path. As I look back on my life, I can see that every seeming hurdle eventually provided impetus for my own growth and was therefore a gift. Bravely embracing my fear of the unknown — not pushing it away — I fully trust that whatever hardship and pain are yet to appear on my path are simply part of my path, remembering that ultimately, all of life is the path. And so it is.
I open my heart and offer my light to all those who have ever shown me love. Every expression of love, no matter how small or infrequent it may seem to occur, completely imbues my being with the totality of All That Is, which is love. I give thanks to each and every being whose love fills my heart with the ancient song that reminds us all that love is all there ever was, is and will be. May we all be overwhelmed with love. And so it is.
I open my heart and offer my light to all those who have hurt me, including myself. I know that every act that doesn’t come from love is simply a disguised call for love. Lack of love is evidence of the hurt we all carry in us, the hurt that stems from our ignorance of our true nature and the forgetfulness of our joint source, which is love. I ask love to show me the way every time I’m tempted to believe that I can be hurt. And as I give love and forgiveness to others, no matter what they have given to me, I know that I’m graced with love and forgiveness. And so it is.
I open my heart and offer my light to the uncertainty every day brings. I give up whatever illusion of control I think I have over life, and instead choose to courageously surrender to the gifts of grace that abound in each moment. Knowing that who I am in reality can never be hurt or damaged, and that I can’t possibly ever fail or fall short, I allow life to come to me as is does. Expecting nothing and welcoming everything, I now promise to stop fighting with life and instead fully cooperate with what is. And so it is.
I open my heart and offer my light to the eventual death of this temporary human form I inhabit. I open my mind to the possibility that any fears I may have regarding death are fears of my ideas of death and not death itself. As I listen to the whisper of my soul, which constantly reminds me that I have been on many such journeys countless times before, I remember that reality is infinitely larger than my human side can ever perceive. As a brave soul who chose to temporarily forget its immortality, I celebrate life and embrace my fear of death until that fear itself dissolves into my timeless recognition that life does not start or end, but simply changes form. And so it is.
I open my heart and offer my light to all teachers that have appeared on my path and those yet to appear on my path, knowing that everyone and everything that teaches me about myself and helps my growth is my teacher. My heart is full of gratitude for those who have taught me through love as well as for those who have taught me by withholding love. How blessed I am to have been graced with teachers in human form and beyond, those born and unborn, and even those only my subconscious can perceive. I now can see clearly that this earth life, which seems full of suffering, is a school and that teachers and teachings abound in every moment, and I choose to learn as much as I possibly can, ultimately remembering that the only lesson to be learned is that love is all there is. And so it is.
I open my heart and offer my light to the ultimate source, the divine creator, infinite spirit, God, All That Is. How can I possibly live in suffering if I choose to connect to that which I’m never disconnected from? How much longer do I want to live in ignorance of my true nature, seeing myself as a separate little body when all the glory of God has been inside me all along? Once I was blind, and I forgive myself for that, but now I have opened my eyes and I see that I am That which I seek. My search for God has always been my yearning to know myself, and now that I realize what I am, I can’t help but lift my head and laugh at the sky. And so it is.