Honoring the Exhale

“There’s another reason why we breathe with out-breaths first, and then in-breaths. The first breath we ever took, as we came out of our mother’s womb, was an in-breath. And the last breath that people take, lying on their deathbed, is an out-breath. Yoga, as it was meant to be by the ancient masters of India and Tibet, is a protest against this normal way of things. We don’t need to get old the way we do, they say. We were meant for life and not for death. Let the last breath out come first and then let us breathe in—let us live.”

The Tibetan Book of Yoga: Ancient Buddhist Teachings on the Philosophy and Practice of Yoga. ~ Geshe Michael Roach.

My Friends,

Let me be honest, this newsletter is all letter and no news. Our classes are as they have been, there’s nothing you need to know that the owners of the studios where you practice haven’t told you. These are just some things on my mind.

To give the Root River folks context, Heather Lorenz, the recent manager of Infinity Yoga Studio, recently purchased it, and as of June 1st we are now Studio HALO. This is good news, our studio needs someone to devote the time, energy, and resources needed for it to thrive.

As we mark the beginning of Studio HALO we are also marking the end of Infinity Studio. I am not meaning to be overly dramatic. We are meeting in the same space, and Heather has assured us that right now all she is thinking about changing is the name and the aesthetics like paint and props. So we are perhaps saying goodbye to a concept, or a feeling more than anything else.

Part of how I’m put together emotionally means that before I can legitimately get excited about what’s to come, I need to honor the moment we’re in right now. One could call it SHIFT~ (Sharon Mansur), one could simply call it transition. For me what it feels like is a deep exhale. Though we know our lungs will soon be full of fresh air, right this moment we are letting go of a bit of what has been sustaining us. I’m writing because perhaps I’m not alone in this sigh.

I keep thinking of the way of breathing I learned from reading Roach, Geshe Michael who in turn learned this from the Dalia Llama. I love it, so we have all practiced it together many times. We turn our perception of the breath around. To think of the exhale first, and then let the inhale follow. The quote above explains this more eloquently than I can.

As we prepare for a new look it feels appropriate to tell the stories of what exists around us as now. Love it or tolerate it, Infinity Studio had a specific look and feel which was created by the very community who gathered, and in many cases, still gather here.

Perhaps, most striking, are the murals on the wall which were created by Lynn Carlson, our beloved Qigong instructor. Whether Heather is planning on keeping them or if they will be covered, I’m not certain, but either way they deserve a moment of our attention.

The murals we’ve had the pleasure of practicing under for the past many years represent weeks, probably months, of Lynn’s research, meditation and creative energy. Before they existed on our walls they existed in her mind and in her dreams. Those of us who had the excitement of seeing them grow from one week to the next, have a feeling for how much time and skill it took to create them even once they were designed. Thank you Lynn. Your work has brought depth to all of our experience.

Speaking of painting, the colors on the walls were chosen by Dr. Kristin Noble, representing her family’s Greek roots. Specifically the brilliant blue waves and white sand where she feels so at home. For what it’s worth Dr. Noble is not the only woman I know who has had healing experiences basking in the sun on Greek beaches!

The walls were actually painted by Kristin and I, and a group of Infinity teachers and friends. It was a long night of laughter and music and stories. Including the story of how one of the painters was actually responsible for the body sized hole that had obviously been repaired in the wall behind where I usually teach. Apparently when the space was a martial arts studio either he threw someone through it, or he himself was thrown…. the details are blurry but the history remains.

We can’t leave out the amazing window displays created by Gretchen Mulkey. Is there anything this woman can’t do? Seriously, yet another wonder we’re lucky to have in our midst.

Our mismatched array of props are full of stories. Perhaps the most meaningful are the wooden blocks on long term loan from Shellie Nelson, they were created by her father before he passed away because Shellie and her friends wanted sturdier support in some of the standing poses than our foam blocks allowed. I don’t know how her father felt about yoga in general, but he certainly supports our practice in a beautiful way.

The piles of couch throw pillows were donated by Jen Bayer, or perhaps it’s more accurate to say they were an accidental gift from the company who erroneously sent them to her along with a couch. In those days our Yin class was growing far faster than our bolster collection. So when the company refused to pay shipping for Jen to return them and suggested instead she find a use for the truckload of pillows she didn’t want, we joyfully took them off her hands. I will admit these cushions were not exactly the beautiful support I envisioned for my fellow Infinity yoga practitioners, but I could not have been more grateful for them.

The table at the front of the room, where we used to sign in is another long term loan. This is a table I grew up with our front hall. It housed a predictable bowl of keys on the top, usually accompanied by a pile of mail, and our family photo albums on the bottom shelf. If you look closely you can see teeth marks from a particularly wild puppy we raised named Sammy. I often think of my mother when I see it, and how surprised she would have been to learn her awkward, shy kid — who was allergic to exercise — became a yoga instructor!

There are more memories, more details, more gifts of  the practical, the joyful, and the ridiculous.  I don’t mean to imply they are all disappearing, or that the ones I have shared are the only important ones.

I, like you, am looking forward to much more time practicing together. The name of place where we practice, or the color of the walls, or the newness of the props aren’t what’s most important to me. You are.

Let’s finish this collective exhale and take the next breath together.

Much love to you all,