It is Friday morning, at exactly 7am. The smell of incense is drifting across the small room where I have rolled my mat out on carpet. Block, strap, and towel laid out near by, the warmth of the room is coaxing my sleepy body into stretching. I alternate between seated forward bends.
The sound of metal latching indicates that the studio is being locked.
The teacher walks into our classroom, and the students slowly rise to meet him at the top of their mats.
This is how we begin.
In a city like San Francisco, locking the studio at the start of class when no one will be watching the lobby is as much a guard against crime as it is a statement on timeliness.
And yet - it is part of the reason I come to this studio: because I like the discipline and the finality of locking the door. There is something very reverent about starting a practice on time. It requires that you show up for yourself. It ensures that everyone inside that room is not distracted - that the slow or fast pace at which they start to look inward is not interrupted. There are many classes I attend and teach that let students in late. This class is not one of them.
I feel oddly safe and cozy in this environment. And although the prevailing style here is stricter than my own, I love the protection of those doors.
I attend many classes each week with less stringent policies, and the parade of latecomers can be overwhelming in its noise and distraction. I lose time and attention being bothered by the noise, and then even more time beating myself up for being bothered. Those people need their yoga, Abbie. You have no idea what kind of morning/evening/day they have had. Just let it go. The script goes on and on in my head.
One of my earliest yoga teachers told me that a "true yogi" could do Savasana lying on the sidewalk in Times Square. That statement stays with me to this day. Does the potential exist for any one of us to reach that kind of peace in our practice - the ability to block out even the most incredible noise?
Of course it does - AND - that isn't what makes us yogis.
I have no intention of doing Savasana on a busy street in New York City. As an anxious person, I never quite know what I am going to get when I lay in corpse pose. There are days when I never want to get up and there are evenings when two minutes of "final resting pose" essentially results in a battle of wills.
Lately, I just want to be quiet in my practice. I want to match my breath with movement and I want to hear that breath. I want my physical practice to be my protection from the crazy places my brain can take me.
That doesn't mean testing myself in the middle of a busy city street.
It means locking the door so that I can unlock something deeper.