Holding on is believing that there’s only a past; letting go is knowing that there’s a future.
Daphne Rose Kingma
It seems like the older I get, the more I find myself saying goodbye. This includes to people, things, and places. I am realizing that in this stage of my life the goodbyes outnumber the hellos. It makes sense that this is happening, I have less life ahead of me than ever before. Yet it still comes as a surprise.
Recently, I was given the news that my long-time Illinois studio, Prairie Yoga, is closing. I had already said my goodbyes on one level, having left Illinois four years ago. When COVID hit, I was asked to teach my class online and have been doing so for almost three years now. It’s been a real gift to continue to connect with students from this community.
However, the actual closing of the studio feels different. When I left I knew that I could always come back to visit. I would be greeted with open arms by my long time yoga community. I would see my beloved teacher and take her class in person. I would lunch with some delightful peers and friends and that sense of connection would remain. Now it feels as if a very important part of my yoga life has come to an end.
The business of yoga has changed post-COVID. There are now so many options online that allow students to practice at home. I, myself, have been taking and teaching classes exclusively online. While there are times that I miss the in-person connection, the convenience of being at home cannot be denied. So it makes sense to me that to run an in-person studio has become more of a burden than a joy.
So now comes the letting go. Not easy to do. I have felt blessed by the opportunity to not only deepen my knowledge of yoga through Prairie Yoga, but have made wonderful life-long friends. The community of Prairie Yoga is large and deep and spans the midwest. It’s a tribute to Lori Gaspar, owner and teacher, that her wisdom and love of yoga has spread across the country. She is warm hearted, intelligent and inclusive. She is a wonderful cheerleader to all fledgling teachers and lifts up those around her. Her semi-retirement is well-earned after many years of mentoring and supporting not only her teacher training students, but also the students of the studio. Lori is truly a gift to all who know her.
There is a connection that is difficult to describe when one talks about a yoga community. Those that have never taken a yoga class will certainly have trouble understanding what I will attempt to write about here. To those unfamiliar with yoga, it is a form of physical exercise that often makes people bend into pretzel-like shapes, called poses. But yoga is so much more than poses. Yes, there is the great library of positions and their multiple levels of variations. But there is also the accompanying philosophy, the breath work, the meditation, and mindfulness that could be a part of any given class. When people come together and are open to all of these aspects of yoga, there is a communion that arises. Students share not only the physical benefits of yoga poses, but also the connection with the spiritual aspects of the practice. To be in one room and share the air, the space and the beauty of yoga is indeed special.
So now, this sense of communion and community is coming to an end. Years and years of shared poses, breath work, meditation and laughs. It cannot be replaced. It was perfect and complete. It can however be remembered in the mind, and hold space in the heart as well. The friendships will remain, maybe taking on a different form. We can take what Prairie and Lori gave us and carry it’s torch forward. It may never look the same, but it can continue to be felt and cherished. As the wise Dr. Suess said, “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”