This Thursday, March 1st, is the studio’s 14th anniversary.
I remember buying the mats and the blankets. Ordering and putting together office furniture, designing a logo and ordering a sign, setting up a bank account as a DBA (Doing Business As).
It was this new, exciting venture, full of risk, full of hope. We were giddy with fear.
In terms of the money, it was a business, but it felt more like a daring adventure. We had a, “Let’s run it up the flagpole and see who salutes” attitude about it.
We had our doubters, too. Especially among our families. There were a lot of good-natured pats on the back, a lot of “good for yous,” a lot of smiles of forced optimism.
Because we were total newbies at this. What did we know?
For my part, all I knew was that I had returned from yoga school on fire. I had found it. My it. My reason for being. My why. My thing. Finally. At 50.
Late bloomer? Yes. But not dead yet. And then this amazing space had appeared, poof! Like that, out of nowhere.
And just like that. We were in business.
I was the teacher. G did the business.
I offered early morning class, noontime yoga, after school yoga, 5 o’clock yoga and 7 o’clock yoga. Five classes a day. Six days a week.
Nobody ever came. To any of them. Most of the time.
On the days when nobody came, yet again, I’d sit on the big windowsill and watch cars at the red light. Sometimes people would walk by on the street.
Somedays my traffic meditation would be disturbed by the photographer next door making noise with squeaky toys to get little kids to smile for their picture.
One day I watched a man eat a whole Big Mac in 5 bites in the time it took for the light to change.
One day when nobody came I considered going down, unfurling my mat on the sidewalk and doing postures there, to attract attention, and hopefully, interest. I thought better of that, though. People around here were leery enough of yoga as it was. I didn’t need to go down and validate anything eastern and crazy and contortionist.
Once, the ladies from the public library asked me to come and give a talk about yoga. But please, they asked, could you not say the word yoga?
(I agreed. I even pulled it off. To this day, I don’t know how I did it, but it was my most masterful feat of legerdemain, ever.)
I knew the reason people weren’t coming to yoga was because they had the wrong idea about yoga. I knew their ideas about it were both wrong and nuts. It was going to be up to me to de-nuttify yoga for the people of Mansfield. It was going to be my unstated mission.
I wanted them to understand, most of all, that it wasn’t a challenge to their religious beliefs.
That was the main sticking point for most people. At least at the beginning.
They were Baptist or Presbyterian or Methodist. They weren’t into Hindu voodoo patchouli Hare Krishnas chanting om. No. We’ll have none of that.
But, they had also heard that doing yoga could make them less creaky. And even less cranky. Was it true?
Two people came. Then four. Then a little group of eight started coming consistently and regularly on Wednesdays at 11. They formed themselves into a group. They came to know each other, though they would only see each other at yoga. They came to like each other, and ask about each others lives. They were all retired. That’s why they could come at 11. They’d go to yoga then to lunch.
And then other little groups began to form, and I would ask them questions about their lives and how they felt, and then I’d go and developed classes with them in mind.
And that’s how it came to be that I am still doing this 14 years later. The groups are larger now. Nobody’s worried about yoga clashing with their religion. They kinda laugh at such an idea.
We laugh a lot in yoga theses days.
Yoga has become different over the years, because they’ve become different and I’ve become different. Yoga has to keep changing and accommodating itself to the changing, morphing lives of the people who practice it.
As for me, I don’t sit alone in the window too much anymore. But sometimes before or after class, I’ll sit there and stare out for awhile. Nothing’s changed very much. People still eat fast at the light, drink, smoke, blare their music on sunny, warm days.
I have a chalkboard on the sidewalk, now, in the spot 14 years ago I thought about spreading out my mat. It advertises Main St. Yoga. I hope people parked or walking by will be intrigued enough to walk up the stairs.
Yoga brings people together. It gets, and keeps us breathing. And laughing.
Happy Anniversary, Main Street Yoga. Long may your freak flag fly!