We have a choice.

I was still riding the Kripalu high on Monday morning - off to get my coffee, missing the Berkshires, the kale miso at silent breakfast, and my amazing yoga buddies. And then my phone rang from California - very early pacific time - bad news early. My husband was on the other end of the line. A death in our family. While not entirely unexpected, our plans to see this person over the next week were not to be. There would not be the closure of an in-person goodbye.

There is nothing so certain - so final - so definitive - as death. And it is such a helpless feeling. In most cases, we can't change the course of life's final days and hours.

We simply do not have a choice about death. We do, however, have a choice about life.  And that was what this past weekend was all about.

We have a choice to see the yoga of life - with joy.

Yoga brings us up close and personal with the choices that we make everyday. On our mats, together in a room, we ponder the questions. Our group of 26 gathered over three days to root and rise and be. And we were treated to four different practices - helping us to choose the positive - the joyful - the bright.

Alex did this with music and inclusion. Playlists to knock your socks off. Choices and options to put yourself in a pose that works. Even a Yin offering (yes, Boston yogis, Yin Alex). When Alex is around, it is very difficult to NOT choose life and joy. We were invited to rise up together in a collective choice to be positive - listening to the songs vibrate through the room and our consciousness.

This weekend was life-affirming. Proof positive that choosing to embrace life for all that it is - as opposed to what it is not - is a step towards happiness. We have a choice.

Perhaps the best part of this weekend was taking the high energy from class, and turning it into solid conversations outside of the studio. Here we were - corporate yogis, teachers, soon-to-be-published-authors, soon-to-be-PhD students. We were doctors and entrepreneurs and salespeople. We had a choice to make a community - and we did. Many of the participants weren't just practicing together - we were eating together, having yoga photo sessions, sharing significant parts of our lives, telling our yoga stories, discussing what makes us stay on our mats, making too much noise in the cafe, and getting reprimanded in the dining hall for lack of fire safety. We were swapping websites and facebook likes and teachers we loved, and styles we practiced. We were talking about why we started - and why we stay. We were living yoga - and finding joy.

Joy isn't about waiting for perfection to drop into your life. Joy is about embracing life as it is and finding the positive in every day and every moment. And if we can't be joyful in a moment - we can be living towards joy - wanting it to be.

We have a choice to be in a community of like-minded souls. To open hearts and hands and mats to an experience that links us together - as human beings dealing with the certainty of death, by making choices for life.

I am so glad that such an amazing group of people made the choice:

-to be open
-to be kind
-to be curious
-to be free

so that we could root, rise, and be.

It should not take death, or a retreat, to remind us that we have a choice. But sometimes the universe nudges you along just at the right time.

To my faithful readers, my loving Kripalu buddies, and to my grieving family in Maryland:

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu.


Y.P.S. (Yoga PS): I will be doing a series of posts on lessons from Kripalu called "Kripalu Conversations" - starting this week. Keep a look out for them. If you want to follow by email, please leave your email at the right!