From the first week I stepped on my mat I wanted to open a yoga studio. I went home and told my whole family, “I’m going to open a yoga studio in Stockton!” My family probably rolled their eyes as this could very well have been just another tirade. I had no previous connection with the Stockton community and had only been practicing a very short time. To them it probably seemed off the wall, but when you are meant to do something you just know.
Yoga studio owners have the best intentions. We find this amazing modality that makes us feel pure and vivacious and we want to share it with the entire world. I did not go into owning a yoga school with dollar signs in mind. Not at all. I wanted to share my passion for yoga and I wanted everyone in my community to feel as amazing as I did and above all, to be free.
Even though I knew I was going to open a studio, I practiced for four years before I started to make my move. That was not an easy four years, either. I earned my stripes. Years one and two I could barely stay in the room. If it wasn’t for the incredible well of love that poured out of Carrie Bain’s heart, I might have easily given up. But, with the support and love of the yoga community, I did not give up. I held steady through the good and the bad and slowly learned to accept each yoga day for what it was. Years two and three were a bit different as the cleansing effects of yoga started to take shape in my outside world. I made some big life changes that I did not particularly see coming. I was getting a bit closer to my True You.
The day finally came for me to make my move and open a yoga studio. I was so excited to teach and bring my practice to the world. But guess what happened? The world showed up—with all its joy and sorrow, all its kindness and cruelty, all its ease and suffering. All of that humanness was coming to me and through me. I did not know how to deal with my community’s humanness. The love I had for humanity was naïve.
As each day, week, month, and year went by I did my best to manage these energies, but I often felt drained of the very life force that yoga gave me. Many times I sat perplexed thinking, “What the hell am I doing? This is difficult!”
When you are a yoga student it’s not about the yoga, but what the yoga teaches you. As a teacher, it is not about teaching, it’s about what teaching teaches you and as an owner it’s NOT about owning a studio, it’s about what owning a yoga studio teaches you. So, if you’re looking at your yoga teacher or your yoga studio owner and thinking, “Wow, they have it all together. So strong and spiritual up on that podium running the show”—think again. We are human just like you and as humans we are going through the same journey you are.
Sometimes I think we believe that life is supposed to be a straight, flat line. You grow up, get educated, get a job, make money, get married, have kids, and have a beautiful life. This is simply not the case. Life is a wavy line, like energy. We are nature. Nature is always being created and dying. Nature has cycles as humans have cycles.
When we are experiencing a state of suffering, a wise yogi knows this is actually a beneficial thing. Our time on the yoga mat is a metaphor for this. The friction caused by suffering is transformational and allows us to discover a purer version of ourselves, but you have to see these moments through the eyes of wisdom. When you do this, the suffering is lessened in a big way. We have this small window of time to see our friction in wisdom before our ego takes hold of it and labels our circumstances as “bad” rather than seeing it for what it is.
What is perceived as bad is an opportunity set up for us by the True You, your soul. Our suffering is a very good thing. These circumstances give us valuable insight about our ego’s misperceptions and allow us to be in the moment and “go through it.” This is difficult and it takes plenty of practice to capture these moments properly, but remember it must be. Suffering is a part of human nature and like nature it cycles. These cycles of suffering usually lead to clarity then joy, destruction then rebirth. The cycles go on and on and no human is exempt.
These days as I cruise around my yoga studios or teach a class and I see all the humanness I am far more detached. I remind myself to see it through the eyes of wisdom. Maybe in the past I unknowingly thought I could “save” people from their suffering, but now I know I am wrong to intervene on this important part of their cycle. We are cycling in and out of suffering until we learn to let go and see the bigger picture rather than getting caught up in the drama of it. I have compassion and understanding for those who have missed the window and feel their troubles are a bad thing. I also have compassion for myself and give myself a break when I miss the window. This window is small and this principle takes much practice. Besides that, the suffering makes the cycle of joy and peace so much more pleasurable. It’s a cool drink after a hard day’s work.