We just finished our 13th year! I asked my class that morning to come up close to the mirror, enough to see your own eyes, as I wanted to take a few minutes and participate in the meaning of the day before the celebrations kicked in! It’s an anniversary which marks another year of growth for all of us, and we too often forget to reflect and pause on what that growth might have looked like: did you get a chance to do more yoga, did you figure out a few corrections in your practice; did breathing get easier; did you become more comfortable with the heat; did you get more accustomed to looking at yourself in the front mirror (and do you like what you see); did you practice more patience outside the yoga room; were you able to tolerate annoying behavior; did you show up for situations that weren’t so comfortable; did you remember to be grateful?

It’s also important to reflect on what we’ve become as a community in the last year. Our growth here is even more worthy of recognition as we may tend to underestimate the power of community – but as BYSJ has demonstrated for over 13 years now – it’s the cornerstone of a greater world!

I recall picking an angel card for last year. If you are not familiar with what an angel card is, it’s a small little bitty 2” by 1” inch card that illustrates a little angel and depicts one word. Single words like joy; power; peace; release; gratitude; resilience; risk; beauty; challenge, and more. I’ve “picked” an angel card at the beginning of each year for the last 12 to 15 years. This word then sits on my mirror or is attached to my car visor as I then remember to reflect on it each day. It’s amazing to see over the course of 365 days how the meaning of the word changes and is so fitting to the “theme” your life seems to be about for that year.

In 2015, I picked a blank card! After so many years of picking a card, I’ve not seen this. I’ve heard about others picking a blank card and writing their own word on it, but I felt like I was cheating doing that. I considered putting it back, but that’s cheating, too. So like I’ve had to do with all my words that I’ve picked, I had to keep it and reflect on it every day for 365 days.

As I look back on my blank card, I see now that it was too much to put to one word as 2015 carried it ALL – Release; Forgiveness; Surrender; Risk; Growth; Joy; Brotherhood and Sisterhood, including Loss as we lost Chris, June 2015. In fact, the idea that is was blank shows how overwhelming the thought of ALL can be, and it was and not just for me but for you too!

Everyday when we come in this room we are in the routine of looking at ourselves in the mirror on and off for 90 minutes. Whether we know it or not, we become familiar with what we see. And in that familiarity we accept what we like and tolerate what we don’t like. The familiarity diffuses the charge of judgement that can be there, and we become a little more objective in our subjectivity. This grooms us to be more spiritual and less worldly. We settle into an acceptance of what is, and see that fear in all its definitions is just a way to Fully Experience All Realms! Our little bitty white blank card – it turns out – illustrates the light that is there when we just stay present and accept “what is” regardless of the word written on the card. It ALL is!

Our thirteenth year was the biggest teacher of them all. The power of community not only helped us overcome the power of fear but we redefined it to reflect the warmth the year surprisingly accommodated even in the midst of loss: FEAR: Fully Experiencing All Realms.

Live this way and great things happen. Ego isn’t even part of our manifestation as there is nothing to defend; there is room for differences in each other as we become less attached, and find differences to be interesting and full of new perspectives.

The repetition of the practice, your decision to come in the room and work on yourself day in and day out for 90 minutes contributes to the fuel that drives community. Its 13 years of progress in that field too – taking a chance at mastery of community. We’ve built a community; grown in community; shared in community and leaned as a community (especially in the last year!)

I’ve heard that once your inner world changes, the outer world is not far behind. Members, my commitment to you is to keep strengthening our bonds of community and grow to greater heights that reach a global community.  It starts with the responsibility to our practice. We know it works and BYSJ vows to keep and be the authority on this method. So, we’ve opened up the studio to more class times: 7:15 am Monday-Friday and 12:00 noon Monday-Friday. We have Jessica and Natalie running our teaching department; Brad and his leadership teaching and supporting our facility; Janaye running retail; Amelia and Robin selling and handling our neighborhood marketing; Claudine as our CFO; Michelle as consultant, and newly positioned Matt and Sarah as our Front Desk Managers! 

And there is more. We’ve started a new business called BYSJ Presents which are events on topics you care about; BYSJ Outreach moving the yoga to our Silicon Valley Neighbors in both Corporate and Athletic settings; and a BYSJ book! It’s an exciting time with amazing new people and new ideas.

But, when you distill it down, it’s still the practice that matters. Thank you for 13 wonderful years wrapping me with your love and support day after day. You’ve allowed me to cross thresholds that I would have otherwise never crossed! Please use BYSJ to do the same and reach heights you’ve never thought possible; do and share your dreams; make humanity better because you dared to do something with it!