NJ Yoga Studio
My NJ Yoga Studio closed about three years ago. Well, it wasn’t “my studio” actually, as I was not one of the owners. I say “my yoga studio” because I feel like it was a part of me. It was where I began taking yoga classes ten years ago as a recent college graduate facing a lot of groundlessness and uncertainty. At the time, I was searching for a home — a spiritual home, I should say — and my yoga studio was where I found a place for my soul and spirit to abide while I struggled to find a path of wholeness and connection.
At the time, I was searching for a home — a spiritual home, I should say — and my yoga studio was where I found a place for my soul and spirit to abide while I struggled to find a path of wholeness and connection.
It was where I studied with the most knowledgeable, generous and loving teachers who nurtured my practice and my soul and inspired me to become a yoga teacher myself. It was where I made lasting friendships with people who I probably would never have met in other circumstances. It was where I learned about my highest intentions for myself. It was where I discovered what’s really in my heart. It was where I fell in love with yoga.
So why was the closing of “my” yoga studio such a big deal? Why was I experiencing such a feeling of loss? Surely I could find good yoga somewhere else, or what about practicing at home, either on my own or with the help of an online video or yoga app? After all, yoga is a truly personal endeavor, so isn’t taking classes in a group setting somewhat antithetical?
Here’s the thing: practicing yoga at home is incredibly valuable and necessary if you’re in it for the long haul, but taking classes at an actual yoga studio, with a community of like-minded individuals who are on the same path as you are, is truly special. We all come to the mat for different reasons and with different intentions, but what we all share is the knowledge that yoga makes us feel better and be better. Stepping onto a yoga mat in a group class is a vulnerable act. A lot of “stuff” can arise throughout the course of a class – physical stuff, emotional stuff, spiritual stuff. So there’s a real sense of connection and unity when you look around and realize that the people next to you are working on their stuff just as you are working on your own. You’re all in it together in a sacred space.
Over that seven-year period of my “yoga upbringing,” I experienced many breakthroughs (yes, I can finally balance in handstand in the middle of the room!) and setbacks (oh no, my SI joint is messed up and will this pain ever go away?) and watched as my classmates experienced their own, and we did it together in the shared space of our beautiful studio. We helped each other go deeper and experience more freedom in poses through partner assists. We clapped for each other and admired each other’s efforts after demos regardless of the outcome. We talked with each other before and after class and inquired about each other’s lives. We supported one another on this path towards greater self-awareness and self-love.
That’s why yoga studios still matter, in the face of live-streaming yoga classes, yoga apps and other technology that makes our lives seemingly more convenient yet keeps us away from one another. And given our current divisive state, we need the “yoking” yoga provides more than ever. Yoga is the common thread, the tie that binds. Yoga studios provide that space for grace. And if you’re lucky enough to find a studio that inspires you to keep coming back day after day, year after year, to move and breathe with other seekers of peace, equanimity and freedom, then your yogic journey could very well be that much richer.
[box type=”bio”] Lauren discovered yoga in early 2007 after graduating from college. As a former athlete and gym enthusiast, she found herself seeking a more balanced and holistic approach to exercise and overall wellness. After hearing about the myriad health benefits of yoga, she signed up for a beginner class at the Red Bank YMCA. Despite feeling inflexible, gangly and incredibly awkward, Lauren was intrigued by the practice of yoga. She started taking classes at Dancing Foot Yoga in Red Bank and fell in love with Anusara yoga, a style of hatha yoga known for its universal principles of alignment and emphasis on opening to grace both on and off the mat. After six years of study and practice, Lauren completed a 200-hour teacher training with Emily Huresky and Dina Crosta in 2013. She now teaches alignment-based vinyasa classes in the Anusara tradition. Lauren is also an English and Spanish teacher at Trinity Hall, an all-girls independent school in Tinton Falls, NJ, where she finds joy and inspiration on a daily basis. [/box]
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