It took me a really long time to go to the yoga studio I had thought about attending for over 3 years.
There were logistical happenstances; like the fact that other studios were closer, or my step-sisters mom owned one that I frequented at, or that another had an energy exchange program I really liked.
Mostly though, I think, it just wasn’t the right time.
I know that sounds hokey, because when is there ever a “right” time? What kind of an excuse is that as someone who practices yoga and runs this blog and all of the other “reasons” I have to not have “excuses”? But what I mean is, in all the time that I wasn’t at Octopus Garden, I was learning from other studios about what I really look for and value in a yoga studio (in other words, I was finding that magic “What I Do Not Want”).
There’s a studio 2 blocks from my house. I know the owner, I know a lot of the people that work there. I’m active in the community and my roommate even did some of her teachings there. I was offered special discounts and circumstances to even apply, but I knew from day one there (which was more than 2 years prior) that it wasn’t a studio that was going to teach me in depth with support. That’s not to say the program wasn’t excellent – it is. It’s revered even.
But what I mean by that is, when I walked in the door I really could feel that this studio was a business. You could argue all studios are businesses at the end of the day – you would be correct. But I think what I mean is that there focus was on building a business.
My focus is on building a community.
And these were trials I had at all of the studios I tried. I liked them all for different reasons, all had teachers that I valued and classes that challenged me. But the problem was the support off the mat. Who were the people I was surrounded by? Who were the people that were teaching me?
I’m coming to a studio to develop my own practice, my own intentions, my own accountability. I already knew why I was coming to the class, so in a way that aspect of “how much do I relate to what I’m learning” was irrelevant. There was always a missing piece in the connection.
So it’s been about 3 years that I’ve been thinking about going to Octopus Garden, and a serious year of contemplating doing my yoga teacher training. I’d done all the intro’s you can imagine at a plethora of studios trying to find a place that resonated with me. Not just in their courses, but it how it really felt to be there.
In my searching and exploring, I decided to nix the excuses I had about not going to Octopus Garden and try out their first free week.
It took walking in the door to realize this studio was different. The receptionist greeted me. The other yogi’s smiled at me. There were people talking on the couches, people laughing at the mat wall, and others running into class rooms and out of change rooms. No one was hindered. Everyone looked comfortable. The people who were keeping to themselves had an air of relaxation instead of forced isolation. The teachers were happily chatting with the students. I realized, before even signing up, holy shit this is a community.
And that’s kind of the point of yoga, ya know? Yoga = union, and union embodies community.
In 2 classes I knew for a fact that this was where I wanted to do my teacher training. I was going to do it. And within the coming weeks everything including how I was going to pay for the course fell into place. If that ain’t serendipity I don’t know what is.
Shortly after registering, another instance of serendipity unfolded as the owner of the studio Pat Harada Linfoot introduce #humansofOGyoga – a project in which the teachers, students, and everyone in between could submit their own personal stories about yoga, themselves, and whatever they saw fit into their journey.
Not only was the studio a community that fit into my values and what I wanted from a studio, but it was now implementing that one aspect that’s still challenging no matter what: who are the people I’m sharing my practice with?
I started recognizing my teachers, classmates, and community members; their stories to their faces. Then I started to feel more comfortable talking and connecting with the people around me. There is something special that happens when you take away the veil of unapproachability that we tend to give everyone – whether their aware of it, or if it even fits them. I felt more comfortable talking to the people beside me, felt more open in classes and getting props from my neighbours, chatting with women in the change rooms, laughing at my mistakes, asking questions while I still get to know the studio and the teachers.
It’s funny how a few words and a picture on a platform open up our minds to the opportunities and connections around us… Funny how what tends to disconnect us, instead can bring us together; can bring us closer to ourselves, our intentions; our attachments, necessities, downfalls, strengths, and practice.
To see my story stay tuned through the #humansofOGyoga hashtag and read about all the lovely teachers, students, and yogi’s that have already submitted their stories.
Written by Forest Greenwell