This week, I was asked if I was calling Singapore “home” yet. I was quick to respond that no, I wasn’t, nor would I be anytime soon. It’s worth mentioning that I have been back in San Francisco for the past four days, the place that I feel deeply is my home. However, I also have the “home” where my family lives (DC), the “home” where my apartment is (Singapore), past homes, cultural homes, places I wish I had called home, etc..
San Francisco, CA (Mission Ashtanga)
The common thread between these places didn’t occur to me until yesterday morning in one of many downward dogs. If I must use the “h” word, home is where my mat is.
Outdoor self-practice, Koh Samui, Thailand (Vikasa Yoga)
I don’t often discuss my Ashtanga practice, but it deserves significant credit for helping me to feel comfortable and ultimately accepted in all of the places I’ve lived over the last several years. I cannot sufficiently express my gratitude to the teachers and studio communities that have welcomed me and made me feel instantly at home, even when I have felt most distanced from where I belong. I’ve even dropped in on classes while traveling and have found it to be a wonderful way to make connections with local students.
Bali, Indonesia (Ashtanga Yoga Bali Research Center)
For those unfamiliar with the practice, I’ll give you the succinct version. It consists of a fixed series of poses that are taught sequentially and are memorized by the student in the context of a “Mysore style” class. This essentially means that in a studio, each student is silently doing their own practice and everyone may be on different poses at different times. The teacher comes around, giving one-on-one instruction to the students as they need it, and tells them when and how to advance to the next pose. Because the series is fixed, the practice is the same anywhere you go. There’s also the advantage of going at your own pace and really focusing on your own breath every step of the way.
Singapore (The Yoga Shala)
I could go on for ages about how this practice has changed me positively, the commitment it requires, the specific poses, etc., but I’ll save those details for those who inquire specifically (please do!). Ultimately, nothing I can say will suffice for the experience of dropping into a class. So try it! No prior experience (or strength, flexibility, zen-master skills, or 6-pack abs) required.
For more information about the practice or to find a studio/teacher near you, click here.