As a studio owner, I enjoy the many aspects of running them. Teaching and meeting inspiring people in the community are some of the most rewarding experiences. The ‘not so glamourous’ aspects include keeping inventory, cleaning and countless hours spent on the computer. While I may prefer to be present in the studios, I know that the ‘behind the scenes’ work is as important for the vitality of the studios. I received an email the other day from a student asking about their membership. They weren’t sure if they were using it enough and were asking about options. There was a line at the end of the email that grabbed me. It said “I am not sure if yoga is for me.”
This statement hits me for many reasons.
We like to pay attention to who comes to class. My wife, Jody, makes fun of me sitting at my computer, checking our online attendance records, calling it the 'Kittery Command Center'. Knowing who our students are is paramount and even if I haven’t met you, I like to know your name and look forward to meeting you. Attendance and sales are very important when managing a yoga studio, so we pay attention. Now, we don’t take it personally if you come or you don’t, or if you missed a week, month or whatever. We DO understand that sometimes things change, people move on, injuries happen, etc. One of the main reasons we got into the yoga business was to make sure we had time to practice. And it’s getting harder with two little ones. Time on the mat is always precious.
Even though I understand how hard it is to make it to the mat sometimes, a statement that says “I am not sure if yoga is for me” hits me to the core. Had the student said, “I am not sure if this style of yoga is for me” would have felt better. I realize that vinyasa yoga may not be for everyone. But, when students stop coming or cancel memberships, I start asking questions. What are we doing wrong? Are the classes too hard? Too easy? Too spiritual? Not enough? Why hasn’t this person adopted yoga as a life-long practice?
For me, there is no turning back. Yoga must be part of my life forever and it is my life long practice, not just because I am a yoga teacher. I knew it before I started teaching when my body craved it. And then it turned into more than just my body that needed it. Our mission at 3 Bridges is to grow the practice of yoga. I believe that more people doing yoga means a better world. I can’t wait for the day when Yoga really permeates everything we do as a society. Think of politicians doing yoga or all businesses operating in a socially conscious manner? Health care, athletics….I am not just talking asana here folks, I am talking Yamas and Niyamas and the roadmap for life that is Yoga. I am not sure if this solves all the worlds problems, but who knows?
So why do people start and then stop the practice of yoga? My mom has used the same phrase on me – she says “I am just not a yoga person”. I used to think that some people don’t need yoga. You can be happy, fit, loving, caring without yoga. I was happy for a long time without it. For whatever reasons, my life has always been good. Of course a few ups and downs and some suffering, but I managed. And I bet I could go back to my old ways and be ok. But…
We need reminders.
We need practice.
We need time alone and in silence.
We need a moral compass.
We need to love and be loved.
We need to be present.
We need help and support.
We need a PRACTICE for the real game.
I know suffering is inevitable. Even though my life has been blessed with minimal to low grade suffering more is coming my way. But with yoga I know I am better prepared. I know I can sit with being uncomfortable and trust my breath. It helps me trust in the process.
So, for all of you out there who might think “yoga isn’t for me”, or “aren’t a yoga person”. You are. You were born with it. It’s in you and just wants to come up for air. Why do you think you came to a yoga class in the first place?
My teacher says “Think of the practice as a cup of coffee, or a way to put some wind in your sails”. Think of it as a way to practice who you want to be, and what type of experience you want to have in this world. If things are good for you, think of it as a way to maintain and appreciate it. If not so good, know it can be your anchor.
We all have relationships with our health and wellness routines. It's ok if you have fallen out of yoga practice but just know we are here for you, and if you do this practice with a whole heart, it will last a lifetime.
BJORN TURNQUIST is dedicated to serving his community by making yoga accessible and successful for all. Along with wife, Jody, they created 3BridgesYoga studios, which continue to inspire and bring positivity to the communities along the Seacoast of New Hampshire and Maine. Follow him here: www.3bridgesyoga.com