You see, it’s like this: I’ve become root bound.
After eight (mostly wonderful) years of teaching yoga classes at Advent Lutheran Church, I will be canceling my last Thursday class at the end of August. Big deal, you say. After all, most yoga teachers are kinda flaky by nature, right? What’s all the fuss about canceling a class?
Well, let me tell you.
I began this class eight years ago after completing my very first teacher training. Part of our requirement for “graduation” was to teach eight hours of community service yoga. The challenge was to offer yoga classes free of charge to a population that wouldn’t typically be exposed to it. At the time, I was a member at Advent and the pastor was a close friend of mine. “If you ever need a space in which to teach yoga, we would love to have you here” he told me. And so it began.
Eight hours of free yoga morphed into eight years of twice-a-week classes. Because I had no overhead at Advent, I was able to keep prices affordable—certainly much less than the local yoga studio. A few students came from the Advent community, but most came from outside the church. Always a beautifully colored mosaic of varied ages, body shapes, and fitness levels. As a teacher, I was challenged. As a new teacher, I was blessed to stand before such forgiving souls as I tripped and stumbled and fumbled my way to finding my true “teacher’s seat.” Although we practiced within the walls of a church, we didn’t pray aloud to God or Jesus, nor did we recite Sanskrit chants or worship Hindu deities—and yet, without a doubt, it was a time to connect with something greater than ourselves through this powerful physical practice of yoga. Each of us, in our own personally sacred way.
The past few years we have practiced yoga in a large and lovely light-filled room that was the original church sanctuary. It was in this room that both my children were baptized. It was in this room that I learned what a liberal, open-minded, left-wing church-going Lutheran looked like…or even that such a thing existed at all. It was in this room that I would roll out a massive canvas labyrinth each year, surround it with candles, and witness the power that this sacred geometry could have in people’s lives. It was in this room that I sang old hymns loudly with others, our collective imperfect voices proving much more powerful than a single pitch-perfect performer. It was in this room that I sometimes felt the spirit of my dad and grandpa and grandma as clearly as if they were sitting right beside me. It was in this room that I learned what it meant to be a cog in the wheel of community and the responsibilities that carried. It was in this room that I shed countless tears of joy and grief with others. It was in this room that I grew deep roots and beliefs and learned how to stand steadfast in who I am.
This room, this place, this class: It has a piece of my heart in it.
Listen to your gut, I say in class. Listen to your heart, your intuition. Listen to that small voice inside that tells you The Truth. Your truth, or “satya” as we say in yoga. Listen to those places. Don’t think so much. Feel more. Let go of what you must to create space for what truly feeds you.
My gut’s been telling me it’s time to leave Advent for awhile now. My head, however, said that didn’t make sense. These classes, this space, it was all golden to me. Untouchable and sacred. But the reality was that attendance had dropped off and things were changing within the church. The pastor who had so readily welcomed yoga into the church fold moved on. And then the little things. And then those things that aren’t necessarily seen or spoken, but perhaps felt in those places that I tell others to pay attention to. Now it is my turn to pay attention.
I grow deep roots. Growing up, I lived in the same house for eighteen years. And although I bounced around from house to apartment to house and back again as a young adult exploring and trying to gain my footing and place in the world, the truth is I’ve been in my current house for nearly sixteen years. I have friends from kindergarten I still keep in touch with. The word “flighty” simply doesn’t have a place in my life. Steady as a rock, I am. Mostly, this is stuff of good character, I think. But recently, I confessed to a friend that I’ve realized I make a lousy editor. Whether it comes to my writing, my garden, my life–I suck at letting things go, be it words, plants, relationships, or even yoga classes. My roots may be deep and strong, but what happens when your roots aren’t given space and light to expand? Well, first, your growth slows way down, perhaps, sadly, not even blooming any longer. And then, over time, you die. Not right away, of course. But a slow and gradual, almost imperceptible death. As comfortable as my current “container” is, my roots need air and light. Let go of what you must to make room for what truly feeds you. In other words, it’s time for an edit.
I hear that it’s time to move on. I hear that I need to have faith. To know without knowing that this is right. My gut tells me that although I love teaching yoga more than I’ve loved doing anything else in my career, maybe teaching yoga is not the final chapter for me. It’s just a step, albeit an important one, along the path. My gut tells me this is an important exercise in letting go of what I must to make room. Perhaps for more writing, perhaps for my yoga practice, perhaps even for a nap or two. To be sure, I will still be teaching a full schedule of classes at the Y, and maybe even somewhere else if the right opportunity presents itself down the road. (Let me know if you find any old red barns for me. Or a yurt.)
My head tells me this shouldn’t be a big deal. My heart tells me otherwise. My gut tells me it’s time.