Happy anniversary to us! Four years ago today, we opened Mala Yoga. Steph taught the first class, a Thursday at 9:15 am. (Yes, Steph used to teach a 9:15 class way back when. Clearly that didn’t last long.) At 9:12 am, she broke the candle holder all over the floor near the block tower. “It’s good luck,” someone said as everyone scurried to help clean it up.
Maybe breaking the candle holder was good luck, but it was the way the community came together to clean it up that was a glimpse of the beauty of the community to come.
The three of us always dreamed of owning a studio, and after many lattes, “what if” discussions, ogling real estate listings, and listening to most of you saying “you should open a studio,” we clasped each others hands, took a deep breath, and jumped.
Happily, we caught the wind and she carried us here.
As we pause to collectively look back, you know, our teaching bona fides aren’t bad. The three of us have spent thousands of dollars studying with yoga masters & gurus. We’ve been to India four times and we’ve taught for over 25 years (most of it in Brooklyn). We have lots of certificates saying we’re certified in the yoga of who knows what. So, that’s all very nice.
But that’s not what comes to mind when we think of teaching. Or teaching at Mala. Or Mala. Because, we learn the most from you. Yes, you. You who walk up the stairs, deal with the shoe rack logjam with good humor, who have learned to master the buzzer and jiggle the toilet properly. You who may have said to us “I’m no good at yoga” at your first class, and then there you are, not too soon afterwards, standing on your hands. You who say “I have this thing…” and point to somewhere on your body that leads to a fascinating research project and a whole new slew of class plans. We learn your shoulders. We know who hyper-extends what elbow and locks which knee.
We’re blessed you let us into your lives. As the body is three dimensional, so is each of our lives. You trust us. You share things with us that are the most wonderful of blessings we experience in the human form — weddings, pregnancies, new jobs. You cry with us when the flip side of the coin has landed on your doorstep — divorce, illness, unemployment. The gamut of human experiences walks through our doors each and every day, each and every class. There are lots of hugs, lots of smiles and tears and everything in between.
There’s a lot of laughter at Mala, and that’s not just because there’s a lot of sugar floating around. You laugh at our silly (and sometimes not so funny) jokes. You laugh because, whether you want to be or not, you’ve become part of this community of people who have one thing in common: a yoga practice. There are new people to greet. There are new people to smile at, to breathe with, to grow with. And while you might not know anything beyond someone’s first name and the color of their yoga mat, you know a lot about them. And they you. Because you showed up, at Mala, as a part of a community, that’s come to practice.
And, most importantly, you show up. No matter what.
You walk up those stairs, you deal with the shoe logjam, and you show up to practice. Teachers often remark that it’s hard to teach at Mala because the students are so smart. It’s true, you’re a bright bunch. Impressive, really, to the point where we get a wee bit nervous as we find our perch at the front of the room. But there you are, and because of you, we show up too. You inspire and challenge us to be better teachers each and every class, each and every time we way “step your right foot forward.” And for that, we’re grateful to the point beyond words.
We named the studio Mala, after the rosewood beads that we each wore (and still do) for so many years. Mala in Sanskrit means “rosary.” We love the idea that the practice is the steady thread on which you place the beads of experience that comprise the kaleidoscope of your lives. Practice shifts, and changes, it waxes and wanes, it is fast, then slow, but it never disappears. And because you came, because you showed up, because you get that about practice, here we are, four years later. We are so honored that you have placed our humble studio on the thread of your Mala.
With so many thanks, with so much love, and on December 3rd, there will be cookies as well. Here’s to the next four & beyond!