Over twenty-five years ago, I began practicing yoga at a beautiful studio in Los Angeles, accessed by a flight of stairs up from the street. At the top of the stairs a sign hung announcing “The Center for Yoga,” which a fellow yogi once remarked should hang the opposite way; meaning at the bottom of the stairs as one exited the building. At the time I had no idea what he was talking about. My practice was new and mainly physical, my focus trained on improving flexibility and doing cool poses.
Over time, under the steady guidance of some wise teachers at The Center, I began to probe other aspects of yoga beyond the physical poses. In doing so, I came to understand the yogi’s recommendation that “The Center for Yoga” signage should mark the studio’s exit and one’s re-entrance onto the street - and real life. That’s where the actual yoga practice happens, and where yoga needs to thrive.
Yoga on the mat is preparation for joining life, mindfully and fully present. Every experience, feeling and condition that we encounter on the mat occurs off the mat: judgment, joy, attachment, frustration, compassion, etc. Thank you to all who came out for Mindful Movement at Santa Monica Yoga over the weekend. Two more classes left: Sunday, October 30th, 1:00-2:30 and Sunday, November 6th, 1:00-2:30. It isn’t The Center for Yoga, but yoga is at its center.