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  • The first time I did yoga I cried. I’m not ashamed to admit that either. I was probably 23 or so, and my sister and I went to Sal Anthony’s in Gramercy Park, NYC. It was right up the street from the studio apartment we shared, her on a loft bed and me on a futon. The yoga studio had creaky wood floors and big windows that blew in the curtains and the sunshine. I don’t remember much about the actual class, but I do remember feeling tears run down the sides of my face after settling into savasana. It wasn’t for any reason and it wasn’t a big grand bawl. It was just a simple act reflecting some sort of release. Or relief. Or maybe both.

    For years after, I revisited yoga periodically, sometimes for a few months at a time, once or twice a week. But it wasn’t until January 2010 that I started to embrace it as a part of my daily life. I started hardcore with Bikram for 6 months before I realized that while I was in great shape, I felt stressed out and bullied. So I shifted to a mix of hot yoga, vinyasa, hatha, restorative and anusara at a few different studios around Portland. And just as I made yoga a part of my daily life, it became a part of the daily me. Even when I was tired, or felt rushed, or it started raining just in time for my walk home, I always felt happy and content after a class. It became normal to attend 4-6 classes a week, and I felt out of sorts when things would get in the way. Over time I watched my practice, my body, and my mind changing in ways I hadn’t expected.

    In July 2011 I moved to Jakarta Indonesia, land of pollution, traffic jams, and more positively a really lovely collection of people. But, limited yoga options save Bikram (clearly not an option) and Ashtanga, which also isn’t my style. I could feel those changes I had experienced slipping away slowly. After a few months, I finally stumbled into a yoga community right under my nose, down the street from school in the home of Lana, a beautiful, peaceful, gentle yogi who has become a sort of saving grace for me here. Two classes a week in her studio gives me a fix that I crave after wandering the chaotic environment of Jakarta. But even that’s not enough many weeks.

    To help remedy that, even in the short term, last weekend I went to Bali for 3½ days solely to do yoga. The community of Ubud is full of healthy cafes serving local organic produce and thoughtful meals. Two yoga studios, Yoga Barn and Radiantly Alive, provided me with the perfect schedule of eight classes spread out over the long weekend. A combination of tough vinyasas, deep yin stretches, and relaxing restorative poses filled my days. The air was cool and the brightness of the Hindu culture surrounded me. Walking down the broken sidewalk one afternoon on my way to a class, the thought “I am so happy in this moment” popped into my head. Not only in my head actually, but in my core too. I could feel my whole body pulsing with the idea that, in this instant, this is life. This is happiness. It’s been a while since I’ve had that lovely feeling.

    In a later restorative class, I felt like I came full circle. As I sat draped over a bolster in a forward bend, I felt like crying. Not for any specific reason or for any sadness. But just for the release and the knowing that I was where I belong.
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