Archive for the ‘pranayama’ Category

The Soul of a Studio

It starts with attitude.

And ends with bhavana. (feeling)

And in between? An ever evolving  energetic imprint of a community that calls this practice space home. Our hopes,  fears, triumphs, failures, tears and laughter. It’s all here, left on a mat. But when the mat is rolled up and neatly put away, the energy of the practice  remains, seeping into the floors and walls to form the core of this Sangha, this community.

This is the Soul of a studio.

Every now and again, a member of our community mentions “soul.” It’s because it is clear to our veteran members and newest visitors– there is something special about our yoga community. Without dogma, studio rules, a prescribed methodology or a standard sales pitch, this studio in a small town in a small state thrives.

I think it is because our studio community has Soul.

I sit at the front desk and greet the steady stream of students filing in, and hear their stories fill our space with laughter and sometimes tears  and the studio comes alive. Mavericks and mystics, badasses and babes, teachers and students alike come to move and be moved. We unpack muscles and stretch out the issues in the tissues until, rung out, there’s nothing left but space and…you.  How freaking scary is that? There’s no granola crunchy here, just a rawness and honesty that will take your breath away.

This community has a mountain of a man who has perfected the pick up hug,  a fisherman who once got knocked off his boat and swam for three hours before being rescued. There’s the girl with the weary and wary look of abuse who tries to silently heal. There’s the transgender woman with the most beautiful inner light who has found acceptance within these walls. There’s oh so wise Doc who loves Led Zeppelin and the back row. There’s a talented personal trainer who loves to laugh in class while mystically floating from asana to asana . And there’s the roller derby queen who is covered in tatts that tell her story and just oozes sweet determination. As students start to creatively and individually move within the practice, they slowly flow and become one.

These are snapshots of our community that nowhere near complete the picture.  Their stories all spill out, without fear of judgement  or shame. There is unity in diversity and authenticity in vulnerability.

This is the Soul of a studio.

It is not the physical  structure or the decorations that give a yoga studio soul.   It’s individuals coming together…each part to make the whole. Our Seva (service)  here is to hold space, listen and do what is needed. . Allow people to be heard, so then they in turn can listen.

The soul of a studio is ALL of these things, community, diversity, charity, space, kindness, love– oh yeah, and don’t forget about the yoga.


Breath. Inhale, exhale, repeat. 28,800 times a day. Usually without effort or thought. Usually.

We all have those days where it’s hard to breathe. You can’t catch your breath, you are late and racing to get somewhere, you count to ten to quell a temper, you hold it in yoga to seemingly  get deeper into a pose when in reality it stymies you. We get stuck. What makes you hold your breath?

When my Mom was terminally ill, every day felt like a failure and I would hold my breath so I wouldn’t cry in front of her, in front of anyone. There were alot of no breathing days in those four months. That started a pattern for me that continues to this day: when I get upset or frustrated, or when I’m trying to do something that’s really hard, I hold my breath. It’s learned behavior. So how do we unlearn it?

One way is through Pranayama. Pranayama is breath work.  Literally it means  prana (life force or breath) and yama (regulating or causing a break). When we tune in to our breath we knowingly break our normal breathing pattern. And when we do that, we bring our attention back to the our internal rhythm and begin to notice the subtleties of movement in our body, and in our lives. A shift here,  a change there.

To paraphrase our wonderful teacher Saul David Raye and his thoughts on breath:

Inhaling is the Nourishment

The pause, that space between is the absorption

The exhale is the release, that moment of letting go

The pause before your next inhale is the void; the feasting, the savoring  of your breathe.

Again and again.

It may not happen overnight, but acknowledging the breath may change your patterns and how you feel and think.  And remember:

it’s okay to have someone or something take your breathe away. Just remember to bring it back.