By the time Katelyn and I were ready to open the studio, we had a pretty solid idea of what we wanted it to be. Knowing that you can’t make everybody happy all of the time, we resolved to create an environment where we would love to practice. This idea had a little to do with aesthetics, but a lot more to do with atmosphere, philosophy, and vibe. What did we like best about our favorite studios and teachers? Humility. Openness. Integrity. A real love of yoga and the whole crazy yoga community. What was off-putting? Drama. Dogma. Paranoia. Rigidity. Know-it-alls and Holier-Than-Thous.
When it was time to find teachers, we carefully recruited with these ideals in mind, and we also just got plain lucky. Our original Employee Manual consisted of a Post-It Note with three rules:
1.) Arrive 30 minutes before class
2.) Long Savasanas
3.) Respect ALL styles, traditions, instructors, and studios!
Simply put: we believe there is no right and wrong in yoga. Yoga is vast, and ultimately your practice is personal. And we’re not just talking about your Asana practice, but your practice of ALL the limbs of yoga. When your teacher gives you alignment cues in class, she’s offering a general suggestion of what she feels is safest and most appropriate for most bodies. Every good teacher instructs what feels right to him or her; each of us can only honestly teach what we know from experiential evidence works. As such every teacher is as different as every practitioner. Ultimately, however, YOU are the final arbiter of what is right for you. The more you practice, the more you are able to make those judgement calls, and eventually your practice will blossom into a more inwardly-focused, meditative experience.
We ask our teachers to be open-minded, and so our diehard Ashtangis take Hot classes, and our purebred creative Power Flow-ers can be found in Hatha and Rocket classes. We encourage you, too, to try lots of different teachers, studios, and styles, and try not to get too caught up in any one set of ideas or rules. There is no best teacher, best student, best style: these things do not exist. There is only, How can I best serve my practice in this moment? What can I learn?
Yoga is big, living, and growing. Like so many other philosophies, sciences and religions, it tries to answer the big question: how best to live? The answer will look different on everyone, just like the shape of every posture is defined not by words in a book, but by every body that interprets it.
Walt Whitman said, “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then, I contradict myself. I am large. I contain multitudes.” This is yoga.