what the heck happened

Something I say nearly every day. But this time it’s about my yoga studio, the changes they are making. I’m not sure I’m happy about it, not sure I like the direction this is taking but I am willing to hang in awhile and see where this is going. This is what I’ve learned so far.

There is new management, something I’ve been aware of since the first of the year, they didn’t come out and announce it but I overheard it one day when I came to class. The first sign there was going to be change was when my old teacher, the one who introduced me to yoga, nurtured and encouraged that interest, moved to another studio. I went to a class held at her new studio, a fund-raiser for the local food bank, and learned she left because the new owner told her she would be taking a pay cut. This teacher has been teaching for about 10 years, she’s a wonderful and patient teacher. She’s knowledgeable, gentle, non-judgmental and most of all, she loves what she does. It comes through in her work, her classes are like ego-boosting sessions. I started going to classes before I had my gastric bypass, I wanted to get stronger and healthier to prepare for the surgery. At first I was reluctant to try this new thing (new to me, yoga is far from being “a new thing”) because I was clumsy, overweight and middle-aged. She welcomed me and was enthusiastic about teaching beginners, some of us who were brand new to this and had no idea what the heck we were doing. I never felt out of place in her classes, even though I was probably the biggest or oldest person there, or if not I felt like I was. She accepted everyone and if a student couldn’t do a pose, no problem, she would offer a variation or alternative pose. If something was too hard, if it hurt then stop and find a place where you feel comfortable. She would walk through the class to see if we were in alignment and even adjust us if needed. It made the difference between pain or injury and feeling a good stretch. She asked if people had previous injuries, especially back and neck issues and adjusted according to those when needed. She rocks and I wish there were more teachers like her. She said she left because of the pay cut but I think there was more, that she saw what was coming and it didn’t agree with her method or philosophy.

The other teachers are different. Not bad, I like them, they are young, full of energy, enthusiastic and offer help if needed. But as one said in class she is a guide. Not necessarily a teacher but someone who guides you through your practice. This is not a bad thing, if you are experienced and most of the classes now are geared to level 2 and higher, people with some degree of experience and knowledge. People who don’t necessarily need help.

Which is one of the other things that bothers me. I’m not overweight or as clumsy as before,  I can keep up and with some exceptions do most of the poses in class. Few people can match my chair pose. Yet I know if I went into one of these classes as I was when I started I’d leave and never come back. I’d be too intimidated and feel too self-conscious, too out of place and give up on the idea of practicing yoga. Because it’s geared toward the young and fit, those people who have “yoga bodies.” Lean and tight, flexible and frankly what I want to look like. I know I won’t,I can’t, I’ll never be one of those women who wears her yoga bra as a top, because I’m too modest and some of those parts need to be contained. There are a few people who don’t fit that profile; there’s a few of us who are older, lumpier, less flexible and less muscular. But we are the exception and we aren’t the image they want to project to attract the types of students they are targeting. In a way it makes me more determined to stay in there, just to throw the place off balance.

When I started going there the studio had a laid-back free spirited feel that I really liked. It’s in a old house with creaky stairs, scrolled grilles over the floor vents, noisy plumbing and real wood floors. I took the beginners class, most of the other people were similar to me, unfamiliar with yoga and a few had health issues like bad backs or injuries they hoped yoga would help with. There was a happy vibe in the place, I felt accepted even though I had no idea what I was doing most of the time. My teacher even encouraged us to take other classes and suggested which ones might work for us, besides her own. So I started taking a level 2 class and I hate to admit it I abandoned the beginners classes as I got accustomed to the harder classes.My teacher was glad for me, she didn’t make me feel guilty or bad for leaving, she was even a little proud of me.

The downstairs studio was an art gallery for awhile then went back to being a studio, which is where it is now. The walls were painted, which looks better. But they’ve also gussied it up, there are candles and powdered supplements for sale now. It’s been gentrified. And they announced on facebook they are changing the name and moving the studio later this month.

I don’t know about this. I love that great creaky old house. The new location is further away from me. The new name, I don’t know what’s up with that or why. It’s going to be called This Land. I’m guessing Woody Guthrie and have no idea what he has to do with yoga. The prices are staying the same, for now. The classes and teachers, I don’t know if they are changing or if there will be new or different teachers. I plan to go to a couple of classes, just to get an idea of what this means. I don’t want to give up on this and if it turns out not to work for me I’ll probably start taking classes at my old teacher’s studio. I may go there anyway. I also plan to cruise by this new location, to see where it is and what it looks like. I know change is a part of life and we gotta roll with the punches, I’m trying to do my part.

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