Over the years, I have received many emails about the behavior of students who stand in the front row. Usually it’s the newer students standing in the back row who feel strongly that the front row should be occupied by those who can balance and concentrate – not by students who fall a lot or constantly fidget. “It’s extremely hard to focus and balance on one leg when the person in front of you is moving around so much,” a student writes. You can hear the frustration.

Over time, however, as practice continues, something shifts. You become so focused on your own posture that you don’t dwell on the circumstances around you. You notice your surroundings, but they do not affect your focus on the pose.

Over time, as you practice, you realize that everyone is working on their own issues just as you are working on your own. You may even find a moment to reach out and encourage a struggling student. You could care less about where in the room they are standing.

In January 2008, BYSJ celebrated five years in San Jose. Thousands of students have taken class in our yoga room learning from dozens and dozens of amazing teachers. We’ve had members come and go, get married, have children, move away and come back. We’ve added a pregnancy series, advanced classes and more regular classes to fit everyone’s needs. We’ve hosted seminars, visited Bikram Choudhury in San Francisco, and are proud to be the home studio of the current National and International Yoga Champion, Cynthia Wehr. Together with our students, BYSJ has contributed thousands of dollars to charities. We recently hosted the Northern California Regional Yoga Championship and partnered with the Autism Education Network creating a powerful fundraising and awareness campaign.

Over time, with practice, we reach way beyond ourselves!

Bikram Choudhury’s illuminating stories most often reveal one main point: “You come in this life time to give, not to get.” It’s in the service to others that we find ultimate meaning and joy. The feeling of giving is the getting.

I don’t want to dismiss how you have come here to help heal an aching back, a sore knee, or tight shoulders, or how the yoga has helped you relax, eliminate stress and re-energize. Yoga will continue to be the most important medicine when it comes to your physical health. However, yoga offers so much more. When you overcome any physical and mental obstacle, you begin to feel better about yourself. Improving your health with the ongoing practice of yoga, changes perspectives and opens you up to more of life’s richer gifts physically, mentally and spiritually.

In the coming years, BYSJ will continue to welcome more new students to yoga. Our community will grow and we will do even more to reach beyond ourselves, like we did participating in and supporting Asanas For Autism on January 5 of this year. However, our mission won’t change. Our yoga won’t change. Inside a very plain looking room with sweaty carpets and super-sized mirrors, we will try to master every moment of each 90-minute class. Yoga is intended to keep giving you exactly what you need at exactly the right time in a way that will continue to contribute to your overall health and well-being. Over time, as you practice, the contributions carry over to effect your families, communities and more. Yoga serves to self-actualize and in doing so, you selflessly serve to facilitate humanity. If we can heal ourselves, there’s a chance we can do more to heal the world.

Happy Anniversary BYSJ!