A story: The current three-year lease (normal for business realty in our area) for the Loving Kindness space ends at the end of September. For all the months of the Governor’s closure of businesses like ours, I knew this end was looming and would force a decision on my part. For all that time, I went back and forth about every other day, one moment ready to break my lease and close right then and the next ready to wait and start back up as soon as possible. Two Mondays ago, after five and a half months forced closure, I had finally made an offer to my landlords, telling them that I expected I would not be opening any time before late next spring, given the COVID numbers we’ve been seeing and confirmed by others. My lame offer to the them was basically seeing if me staying was better for them than the space sitting empty as they looked for a new renter.
THEN less than 24 hours after I sent that, the Governor surprised us studio owners and people who have been watching the trends; in doing so he even contradicted Secretary Cohen’s explanation of what they were looking for in their decision-making process. He, of course, announced Phase 2.5 which allows, among other things, yoga spaces to open back up at 30% capacity, with everyone wearing masks. The Governor’s order stands till October 2. End of that part of the story.
Next part of the story begins: The question had always been for these months, “Am I going to be allowed to open?” (and it was finally, and unexpectedly, “yes”…for now.) The follow-up question was then, “If I am allowed to open, do/would I want to?” After MUCH deep soul-searching and conversations with fellow studio owners and friends and MD’s over the last two weeks, my answer is “no, I don’t want to open right now.” The Governor’s decision to allow me/us to open was a political and not public health-driven decision. And though I could open safely and do yoga with all of us wearing masks with the windows wide open for another month or so, there’s the winter looming, with expected higher sickness numbers and certainly less ventilation in the space.
On the purely economic side, I don’t believe that the added numbers of the few people attending classes there in-person would be able to pay for and justify the rental cost on the space (six students are allowed by government policy as of now; I’d be surprised to see six people there in any class). And I also simply can’t ignore the “coincidence” that my lease is ending NOW, and not in two more years; I see the Divine hand on that one. I feel blessed that I don’t “have” to open just to try to pay the bills, as I know that some others are doing.
The confirmation was that my landlords, understandably and not unexpectedly, rejected my low offer, so the physical space of Loving Kindness Yoga School will be closing by the end of the month. I got that email as I was meditating during a powerful and auspicious astrological alignment on Monday.
It is with a mix of sadness and relief that I share this news with you. It was great that we had that spiritual home together for all those years. AND I hope/intend/fully expect for Loving Kindness the physical space to rise from its ashes at some point in a future that hopefully comes sooner than any of us expect right now. I also hope and consider it highly likely that that space will be in exactly the same physical location, as I think there will be LOTS of business spaces sitting empty in the near future.
I know that you all understand and support me and this difficult decision. It’s possible that enough of you would have been willing to support me keeping the space, but I don’t want me/us to spend a lot of money to pay for the landlord’s mortgage on a big empty space when there are such greater needs for money out there right now.
I’m sure that this news, though perhaps not unexpected to you, may still be painful to receive. I’ll admit that I feel sadder than I expected, given that this was a very real possibility for quite some time and I had felt/thought that I was OK with it. I think that I couldn’t get clear on what decision to make all these months because I didn’t want to go through the grief of this loss. My lack of clarity was, from one perspective, just the natural avoidance of pain, as looking back, I know that some part of me knew all along.
If I’m not alone and you, too, have painful feelings arising around this news, I encourage you, as I always do, to let the emotions arise, hold them lovingly in your awareness just as they are without censorship or judgement, and let them pass through you. You can at least do this when you have time by yourself and don’t need to attend to your kids or whatever other important thing. There are, of course, stages of grief and different emotions and mental states that arise in the process; maybe the Covid is helping us get good at going through them, as so many losses are occurring.
You are all in my heart and prayers as we all make this “transition” together, though, of course, in reality, we’ve already made it! No one but me has been in the space for yoga for 6 months, but we’ve been continuing to practice together. YOU were as much of Loving Kindness Yoga School the physical space as I was, and I valued and continue to value what you brought to it. And just as you were an important member of that entity, your individual contribution to the now-virtual community has changed and is evolving and growing in different ways, as it has already been.
For years I had built my teaching on personal connection with each person who showed up, importantly including personally and individually relevant assistance, and that has had to change. But those of you who have been able to continue doing yoga on Zoom with me know that we are still (all!) intimately connected (even when across the country or the Atlantic!) and that you have been able to continue to deepen your yoga and your connection with yourself. I am continuing, and will continue, to aim my teaching toward each one of you understanding HOW to practice yoga in a safe and meaningful way that moves you toward realizing/experiencing the deep, abiding Peace and profound Love that dwells in you, underneath the ramblings of the mind.
Through the near-term, “foreseeable” future until we can be back together in person again, I hope you will want to continue to deepen your yoga with me with the ongoing online offerings, soon to be “broadcasting” from my home yoga room AND accessed through a new website in the making, with new liability waiver and passwords to get in and still, always, by donation.
For myself, I want to continue to learn how to be the most effective teacher, communicator and transmitter of yoga that I can be, even now that the yoga world looks very different. I urge, as I always have, that if you ever have questions or yoga comments or difficulties—whether physical, mental or on some other level of yoga—don’t hesitate to ask or share it—during or after class, or by email, where we can even arrange even in-person discussion. This helps me as a teacher and a person on the Path, as well as helping you and others.
I know some of you have not (yet) joined on the Zoom classes, and I’ll give a nudge for you to at least try it out. No, it’s not the same as in-person, but it’s still moving your body mindfully and learning how to be in it in the best way…and it still feels good! A number of people have found that this format actually works better for them in powerful and meaningful ways. And if you can’t or don’t want to, no problem, of course, just keep doing yoga on your own!
If you read this far, you are a special person in my world. Though the physical space has already closed (back in March), the Spirit, community, teaching and learning that was temporarily housed there continues undimmed. I look forward to whatever new “pose” our yoga practice and relationship takes in the near, and God willing, continuing and distant future.