Long ago before our shared passion for yoga sparked the creation of Shree, Suki and I nurtured our young friendship on a zeal for words. Dictionaries are necessary parts of our lives; the bigger, the older, the better. With attention, we each aim to choose words that fully suit and clearly express the needs of the topic on the table. If they are mellifluous, all the better. Choosing the words for Shree’s mission statement dominated a year of conversation between us before the studio was even named. There was not enough time to put the words together regarding the closure of Shree. If I had been given a year to write these words it likely still would not have been enough. I’ve struggled to get these words out with clarity. This is all because I have been resistant to closing Shree. My resistance is loudest when I think of surrendering. Making a choice like this is the hardest kind of yoga.
I remember my first yoga class. Suki was the teacher, class was hard. I remember my first down dog. I had never done down dog before. Down dog was hard. My internal dialogue sucked. There I was asking myself, why had I come to class in the first place? Why would I choose to willingly put myself into such discomfort? Then Suki instructed the room to “extend from the heart with love.” It was a lightning bolt to my consciousness. I was astounded on many levels. The word love as an action instruction in that instant enlightened me to my self-talk, encouraged better self-talk, and transformed the feeling of the physical experience into one that was light and expansive. Flabbergasted, I took note as I witnessed myself in an entirely new way. I have never been the same.
It wasn’t long before I started to see yoga clearly impacting my life on every level. I felt better and better with every passing day. My life was better too. I could write a whole memoir about it, but not today. Today I will say, it was easy to make the leap from feeling better, to yoga teacher training, to Shree.
Over the course of Shree’s existence I have learned so much, I have gained incredible and unimaginable gifts and I have surrendered to depths never imagined. I feel quite confident Suki would say the same. With Shree, Suki and I set out to create something that was life enhancing for ourselves and our community and we achieved that goal. The decision to close Shree has not been made lightly. Suki and I have been committed to every word of our mission statement since its inception and we have made every choice possible to sustain the studio in a way that was life enhancing. The Covid-19 pandemic has placed incredible burden on our business. It is not sustainable for us to try to continue to operate it as we have in the past any further. It is time to dissolve the Shree mandala.
About as quickly as I fell in love with yoga on the mat I was in love with practicing it off the mat. I love that life is a constant practice of yoga; always dancing between concealment and revelation with the skillful practice of effort and surrender. Everything we experience in life, all relationships, thoughts, actions and feelings can be the catalyst which sends us over the threshold of our ignorance into to the bliss of our beingness. Whatever we encounter, be it auspicious or malicious, good or bad, uplifting or disheartening is an invitation to conscious relationship. While we may not get to choose all the things we will surrender we can choose to surrender with openhearted grace, like golden aspens quaking in the autumn wind.
I would like to think that we (the big Shree we) have prepared you (and us as well) for this transition and the times we are living through; that we have taught you the tools to organize your minds for the next great adventure; that you have the capacity to and understand the necessity for using your words and your actions to contribute to a life enhancing future for yourself and everyone; to keep your practices and Shree stayin’ alive in your hearts; and to courageously extend from your hearts into the world with love.
I’m not sure what the future of teaching yoga is for me but I am confident I have one. For now I’m going to focus on my practice. While brevity isn’t one of my strong suits, insulating is. I know myself well enough to know I will be insulating in the wake of Shree closing, I will be quiet in my grief and I respectfully request you help me hold that boundary. Right now, these are all of the words.
While writing these words I have seen hundreds, if not thousands of your faces, and have remembered joyfully the many years we have been together, doing powerful alchemical work, rolling around on the floor at Shree. I thank all of you for being a part of the journey, for your love, laughter, sweat and tears. While the container of Shree will be closing, know that your container can forever expand…
With love, always in all ways,