Living Yoga


It is hard to believe that it has been one year since our lives changed in such a dramatic way. One full year of many missed things, lost loved ones, homes and jobs. It was hard then, the first day we were told to shelter in place where none of us knew what to expect. Our minds worked hard to process being asked to pause our lives for two weeks, but we had a defined timeline and so we put things on hold with the expectancy of returning. A full year later, many things are still on hold and the question circulating is, “Will we ever go back?”.

For many reasons, we know this is a difficult question to answer. Mostly because what “going back” means will vary from person to person, but it is also the reality of not being able to predict what happens as we move forward . “Expect the unexpected” is quite the norm of living these days. So without having answers as to what the future will look like – just how long will you put your life on hold?

Granted there are many things beyond our control – decisions that are made for us by government, such as what stays closed and what is allowed to reopen. But as an individual, we have personal sovereignty over our being. We may be unable to travel to places we desire to go, patron businesses we’ve missed, or still limited in how we visit with other people – but no one can govern how we respond to our circumstances. No one else is living our life but us.

A dear friend and co-director of the Yoga Teacher Training program at SYS, Mahendra Briksha, shared once how he observes so many people waiting for the weekend to live. Rushing through our week, barely able to contain our desire for it to be the weekend once again, when we can relax and enjoy life. But it is in this waiting for the weekend, that we deny life in its full capacity in all the other days. It would be like saying, instead of breathing today, we are waiting for tomorrow to breathe.
Sure we might have less obligations on the weekends that allow us more time to play, but life encompasses everything – work and play, joy and sorrow, contraction and expansion. If we are selecting only pieces of our life to live, will we ever really fully live?

I don’t say any of this lightly. It has been painful to have the studio closed for a year. I am witnessing my child’s struggle with distance learning, missing friends, and the onset of depression and anxiety. I’ve missed holidays and birthdays with family, carry worry of finances, and so on.
So yes, I can be angry that life is not the way I want it. I can be overwhelmed in trying to speak up for what doesn’t make sense. But in between it all, I can still choose to live life as it is – in the fullest way that I possibly can. And in choosing to show up, I remember that I can only ask myself to be the best version of me. Not how I think I should be or others want me to be, but through my struggles, how I am able to be.

Isn’t that yoga?
Yoga meets us where we are – without expectation. When we arrive on the mat or cushion, the practice will never ask us to be anywhere other than where we are or to BE anything other than what we are in that moment. And in that full awareness of who I am, I can take a deep breath saying YES to my existence. It doesn’t matter the circumstance – what solely matters is my existence. And each day that I awake is another day granted to me to LIVE.
Each day you awake, is another day granted to YOU.

For now, our physical studio is still here. It feels almost miraculous to me that our beloved sanctuary in which we’ve gathered in together, has not been lost to the pandemic. I celebrate every day that the space is still here – recognizing that I can’t guarantee anything for the future. I have been waiting for the day in which we can return, but it has not stopped me from continuing to practice or finding ways to teach.

What weighs most on the future of the studio is you, our community of students. Trust me when I say that we know zooming classes or being outdoors is not desirable for some, and for many it is less than ideal. I never opened a studio to offer yoga that way!

But for right now, it is all we have – it is all we are allowed to do. And even though it may not be the ideal way to practice, I can’t begin to tell you how amazing it has been to still be “together” through zoom and at our beautiful outdoor locations. It’s more than the practice itself, it’s the commitment to self care, and it’s the connection we have with each other. Staying in practice and connection has offered me the courage and strength to keep going in such difficult times.

So I humbly ask for your support and to consider not waiting until we can “reopen” for indoor practice. Not only for yourself, but to help ensure we have our studio to return to. Financial support for small business has been really challenging and we unfortunately did not receive that latest grant offered by CA for small businesses. Truthfully, I would rather not even need it. The greatest wish I have for our success, is from the joining of our community through taking classes together and supporting one another. It is a most beautiful and uplifting thing for everyone.

With love and light,

Laura McKinnon

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