Belonging Brainstorms

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My writing, Dustin’s effusive illustrations of what the co-op will do for yoga teachers in the         DC Region. 

My conversations about the DC Yoga Co-op are sometimes telescopic other times microscopic, complex, invigorating and ultimately transformational.

In my recent conversation over coffee, Dustin Canter, entrepreneur, CFO, school and yoga teacher, all-around-good-guy and, by the way, the youngest ever DC Mayoral candidate, cut to the chase: Couldn’t a co-op make things easier for teachers? Help them become more productive, more effective, give them something of value besides a group that they can turn to for moral support? Aren’t there economies of scale that could be available to a large group of yoga teachers? Maybe an easy, cost-effective way to get subs or protection or even jobs?  Hey, what about building a retreat center?

Uh, hell yeah.

I have a vision for what the first year will look like for the DC Yoga Co-op.  For me, this vision involves not only serving many teachers in all these ways, but serious practitioners of yoga as well. It will provide something unique of quality (I’ve been dreaming of heirloom tomatoes…more on this later.)  It will also make sure that there is year-round, in-person outreach and education about all the myriad forms of yoga and meditation to the people who need it the most in our region.

But in a co-operative or even a collaborative, it isn’t about one person’s or one organization’s brand.  It is about collective imagination. I know that democracy is getting a pretty bad rap these days from every side in the tribal wars that we endure. But I believe there is still power in this kind of process and then the work towards a common purpose, especially on a local or even micro level.

We’ll be getting together in January to hash through what our goals will be for the first year and maybe even the first three years of our work together. Let me know you are interested in working on the big vision by sending me an email. I’ll put you on our expanding list for an invitation.

 

 

Islands in the Sun

IMG_3538 Though I belong to a large and incredibly supportive teacher community at my studio, I sometimes feel isolated from others, since usually we’re dashing from class to class.  As Carol and I have been talking with yoga teachers about forming a DC Yoga Co-op, we know that this feeling resonates — and is even more keenly felt by independent yoga teachers. (One described it as being an “island” in her teaching practice.) To counteract this feeling, in the fall I unmoored myself  and let the tides drift me to Upper Marlboro, MD to see how far out my yoga peeps live and work.

I was very early for the noon class at Spiritual Essence, but nevertheless warmly welcomed by Jakuta Dunmore, my instructor.  While we waited for her class to begin, we delved deeply into what was important to us as teachers, practitioners, and community members.  As our conversation turned to taking this practice to people who need it most, she shared the exciting news that she just been hired to teach yoga in the county prison. I could see that this new position was an expression of her compassion and practice of loving kindness.  As I said goodbye and we took pictures of each other and fellow students, I hoped that I would get to hear about how that first class went at the prison.

I’m always happy when I leave class blissed out after savasana, and I’m over the moon if I have learned something new — a few new moves  to incorporate into my sequences or a new perspective on ancient teachings.  This time I left buoyed by the knowledge that I had connected with someone who shared my values and my practice on and off the mat. Definitely a fellow yoga peep, my friend Jakuta.

When I envision the DC Yoga Co-op and what it could be and do for yoga teachers and serious practitioners in the region, this is what I imagine:  A place where we can gather, share support and wisdom.  For a brief moment, we could be islands in the sun.

If you are interested in hearing more about the DC Yoga Co-op, drop me a line.  Happy to include you in our work to create this community.

 

 

 

Big Mind’s Vision

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The Last Day in the Garden

When Erich Schiffman was in Yogaville, he spoke about his understanding of the connection we all have with what he calls “Big Mind” (what some of us would call the divine, and others might call universal consciousness.)  You can tune into Big Mind  by quieting your own little mind through practices that allow you to get out of your own way and “plug in” to the truth of this connection, and insights and sparks of intuition. As you saw from my horoscope recently, Big Mind has some plans for me.

So let me lay out the vision that has been laid on me and ask for your help, as Big Mind’s penchant for connection demands of me.

The Washington DC region needs a yoga co-operative. 

Yup.  I’ve been visited by a vision of an autonomous association of yoga teachers and practitioners united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly owned, democratically controlled enterprise.

Kinda nerdy was my first thought.

But though it is very different from the other creative visions I’ve played with here, it seems to fit the bill for a heart that has longed for a bigger, broader, deeper and more meaningful in-person connection with others who practice yoga.  [Nice going, Big Mind!]

I’ve shared this vision with close friends, and friends of friends and each time I’ve seen the spark ignite again, like it did in me. As we’ve talked the vision through, considered all the questions that arise, reached out to even more yoga teachers and practitioners for more listening and conversation, the spark has turned into a small flame.

An initial group met in person a few weeks ago to consider whether a DC Yoga Co-operative could come to fruition.  We decided to continue to reach out, to listen and to gather sometime in January to develop a focused mission.  Who do we serve?  How? What positive change do we hope to bring to our region? How would it benefit those of us who already practice or teach yoga?

As you read this, do you feel the warmth of this spark?  Want to know more?  We need you.  Respond here, talk to me or IM me on Facebook.  I’ll ensure you are part this connected current.

 

 

 

 

 

Tiny Community

Image-1(3)Alexi and I were placed together — mentor and mentee.  She and I have a bright and peaceful hour after my early morning class on Tuesdays at the Arlington studio. Lex brings her son Freddy, who plays with the foam blocks and his trucks, eats snacks and draws on the draft of her thesis for the 300 hour teacher training.  We talk about profound things like teaching yoga through archetypes and parenting a young child; we delight in Freddy’s love of hiding in the curtains, and in our newfound friendship. I really don’t know who is mentoring who, since I’ve learned so much from Lex.

Three people or forty, this is community: the pause, the listening, the experience of another perspective and something big and true. Learning. Connection. Joy.  I wish everyone could find this kind of belonging in a yoga studio.

Listen and Carry a Yoga Mat

IMG_3526I’ve shared that I’ve been lost lately — babies grown (not only grown: married! with a graduate degree!)…husband retiring…changes everywhere in my life with my 54th birthday looming in mid-December. So many questions about what is next.

But I am found when I practice yoga.  When I listen to my body and mind, when I keep an open heart for others, when I live in the present moment, breathe… I find peace.

But not a restful peace — oh, no.  This peace will involve some transforming, a vision and a big decision mid-December, according to my horoscope.  (Sometimes when you plug into the universe, the universe has big plans.)

Learn, Grow, Be

IMG_3570My cohort for the 300 hour teacher training at Tranquil Space was very small:  Suzy, Marjorie, Kelly, Kris, Sharlene and this beauty, Angela.  Found her mat right next to mine for Yoga and Meditation one Sunday this month and was transported back to a time when we spent long weekends immersed in the practice. Slowly, we dropped what we thought we should be and got to be our true selves.  We found that our vulnerabilities were embraced and loved.

I am grateful for this kind of community when I can find it.  Is it possible to build a community of yoga teachers and practitioners where everyone feels that they can learn, teach, grow and be accepted for who they truly are?

Getting Schooled

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I found myself on a beautiful crisp fall day with Julia Coney, a wise and joyous yogi and woman of the world.  She helped me start to unpack what true belonging in a yoga community would mean.  What would it look like and feel like if everyone regardless of income, race, ethnicity, citizenship status, gender, sexual orientation, gender identification, body type or physical ability felt that they truly belonged? What will it take? How will it come into being?  Who will be there?

After lunch, I found myself with a list of people and places to visit to continue my schooling — places that are vibrant, new, creative, inclusive.  Thank you, Julia.

All My Yoga Peeps

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What if the entire DC Metro Region was your yoga community?  What if you felt like you — the unique body, heart and soul that is you —  felt at home stepping into a new place to practice yoga?  That you weren’t just invited, not just welcomed, but that you really, really already belonged?

We all have our own yoga DNA from our studios, our teachers, and training…but we are also yoked by common threads.  We long to create connection. We desire to practice compassion for self and others, to honor the lineage and all the creative, vibrant expressions of the practice in the world. Our yoga peeps are all over this city, this region, this country, the world.

This August, my creative impulses were called away from the canvas and the pen and notebook by change.  This change wasn’t theoretical — it was really, really real.  Not only am I now an empty nester, but we’ve discussed forging a new life in a new place next year. And then: my home yoga studio changed hands.  And with that change, the landscape of the local yoga scene was altered forever.

So, I did what I do every time I felt lost.  I got on with the business of finding myself here and now, connecting with self and others.  And I found the most amazing vision for our big community of yoga peeps that I’m working to make a reality .  Want to belong?  You are more than welcome and invited.  In fact, you belong already.

Join me in this adventure.