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As I walked into lululemon The Woodlands this morning, I wasn’t sure exactly what type of class I was going to lead. I knew they wanted a healing class.. but to a group of active lulus that could mean a range of things – a gentle, slow paced class to open the hips and heart, allowing the breath to calm the aching soul; a vigorous ashtanga-esque vinyasa to allow the sweat to drip off the body along with the heartache.. two dynamically different possibilities, but only one opportunity. So I walk into lulu at 6:40am.

As some of the girls are lighting candles, I lay out my mat and sit. More lulus begin walking in the door..and I sit. I hear laughter, I see hugging, I feel warmth and kindness..and I’m reminded of family reunions. Regardless of the reason a close family comes together – be it a funeral or a wedding or just because – there is always joy and love that fills the air (at least in my family). Though this occasion for coming together is one of sorrow, these lulus are comprised of joy within their grief – a diamond light amidst the thunderstorm. A smile emerges from my lips. The employees of lululemon are more than mere employees or coworkers, they are bonded by friendship, camaraderie, love, and yoga.

So I’m introduced, and I open the class with AUM – the sound which symbolizes creation, preservation, and liberation (or destruction). The symphonic breath was magical, and we flowed through hip openers, chaturangas, heart openers, and inversions. It was a beautiful experience, to be an outside observer to this healing movement, to help lead these amazing men and women through their creation, preservation, and destruction of this practice. As a teacher, I have poses in mind that I want to do for a class.. but for me, the practitioners are what make the practice, the sequence (with the exception of Ashtanga, of course). Without sounding too “woo-woo,” I let the energy of the practitioners and the room fill me, guide me, and allow me to cultivate the practice they require. This morning was no different. We went through a lighter flow than my normal pace (yet still warming), and then ended with some seated hip openers and inversions to allow the release of emotions that have been building all week.

We close with AUM and Namaste, a group photo, and the lulus head off to breakfast before the Memorial service. On the drive back to Cherry Blossom, I become overwhelmed and am reminded of a quote.

“Passion is the source of our finest moments. The joy of love… the clarity of hatred… and the ecstasy of grief. It hurts sometimes more than we can bear.”~Joss Whedon

The passion that lies within the lulus for life, for love, for community, for giving.. it can be overwhelming to be welcomed into that passion, that love. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.. to live and die is to love, and it is to love deeply. We must create, preserve, and destroy with every breath..with every moment..with every practice..and with every life.  A life with passion is a life worth living. We cannot create joy without grief, we cannot destroy sorrow without happiness, we cannot see clearly until the lights are turned to darkness, and we cannot preserve love without letting go.

“To spare oneself from grief at all cost can be achieved only at the price of total detachment, which excludes the ability to experience happiness.” ~Erich Fromm

So I’ll leave you with this last bit.. as I lay in bed last night, thinking about the dark night the family and friends are currently going through – and recalling my dark nights of the past and present – it occurs to me…

Is it only in darkness that we can shed light on that which truly matters? If everything is shiny and bright, the radiance gets lost in the incandescence… and we become blinded by the light.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

~Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti~

“Life is a constant oscillation between the sharp horns of dilemmas.” ~Henry Louis Mencken

This has been an interesting week for me. There have been a lot of would-be ups and downs, and luckily I have my yoga to keep these oscillations at a manageable capacity. As most of you know, this was the week in which we had our official 1-year anniversary (or birthday) – March 15th – though we are celebrating all month long. This is a great cause for celebration. We’ve been open for 1 year, and in that year we’ve seen growth in student numbers, growth in student practice, and growth in our community. I’ve become a lululemon athletica Yoga Ambassador for The Woodlands, and you voted our studio into the Top 5 of Houston’s Best Yoga Studio! Many reasons for celebration and jubilation. In this past year, we’ve also seen loss.. loss of two deeply loved instructors – Ejiro and Jennifer. Though, they are both alive and healthy and working on growing their own paths, their presence is still felt within the boundaries of CBY; their physical presence is missed on a daily basis (if only in my own heart).

March 15th is also bittersweet for me, as it is the observed birthday of my beloved pooch Copper. He died in 2008, yet still has a profound effect on my emotional state. His presence in my life was filled with ups and downs as well – beginning by my rescuing him from euthanasia as a recently weaned puppy, followed by my rescuing him at the age of 1 year from an abusive ex-boyfriend (abusive to Copper, not me), but failing to rescue him at the age of 8 from a brain tumor. He was my rock in times of distress, and my pillow in times of solace. And it’s times like this that I miss him most. He loved the springtime, when the flowers bloomed – I would catch him out the window at times, literally stopping to smell the roses and peonies in the backyard.

With the tragedy of two female lululemon employees being sexually assaulted and one of them murdered, in Bethesda, Maryland, along with the catastrophe occurring in Japan..these become trying times – when it feels like the world itself is in a Dark Night of the Soul. But it’s these dark nights that allow us to find the light. We can use the darkness to shed light on that which lies deep within us – the strength, wisdom, and peace. This is when we need to reach out to our community, and our loved ones for support. With loss of life comes an inspired sense of connection. So while these events fill me with sorrow, I celebrate the life of loved ones past. I celebrate the joys in life that surround me – new friendships blossoming, engagements and wedding anniversaries of loved ones, birthdays of loved ones past, birthdays of a business Johanna and I have cultivated and continue to nurture. I celebrate the lessons sorrows have taught me in the past, about myself and about life, and I celebrate the lessons sorrow and tragedy have yet to instill in me.

Yoga helps to keep my highs a little more close to my heart so that my lows don’t take me so far down that I can’t return. Yoga helps to keep these oscillations of the heart a little more even and manageable.

“Instead of weeping when a tragedy occurs in a songbird’s life, it sings away its grief. I believe we could well follow the pattern of our feathered friends.” ~Unknown

~Namaste

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