About eleven years ago, I almost bought a gorgeous building to renovate and open as our yoga studio. It was in good condition and had lots of potential. The banks cleared me for the purchase and the architect and I pondered the many ways we could design the very small yoga room. Thank God I came to my senses realizing the amount of work it would take to satisfy our Bikram type needs and declined. My broker at the time was disheartened but realized my reasoning. We were back to square one in our search, but it was almost immediate when we “found” 5289 Prospect Road – The Westgate West Shopping Center. My broker showed me a very ugly and dark space in the far corner of the center that had little to no visibility to the front of the mall. At the time, it was used as a storage space for “Second Hand Books,” a store that is long gone now but was located next to Trader Joe’s. With stacks of books everywhere, a dirty cement floor, creepy bathrooms, and not much lighting, it was hard to imagine a beautiful yoga studio in that space, with a growing, loving community coming and going daily. And, it was a far cry from my perfect building that – in my mind’s eye – was set up like a doll house ready for occupancy.

One day, I decided to park my car in the back area of what is now our back parking lot and sit out on a visible sidewalk strip that connects the mall with the center. I had several prerequisites for determining a good location: good drive by traffic, ample free parking, an abundance of natural light coming into the studio throughout the day, and views of nature, with trees in our line of sight from the yoga room. As I sat there that day, I was amazed at the amount of cars circling around this desolate back area. I noticed that it had as much traffic as the front area (if not more), as many cars took the back street out to Saratoga Avenue to avoid all the lights! Additionally, I noticed that no one parked back there. Literally dozens upon dozens of spots were empty all day, and all a stone’s throw to what would become our front door. Besides all the light that came through as there were no tall buildings to block the sun, there was one big tree visible to the space from any angle, 24/7. In fact, I was sitting right under it. Sounds silly, but I hadn’t noticed my Big Redwood Tree before. And, I know why. It wasn’t perfect. The tree has branches cut off in weird places so as to make room for the telephone lines that run across the neighborhood. It was another judgment I made on this imperfect space that really was, well, perfect. As my mind shifted, so did my vision. I noticed the number of olive trees surrounding our future spot in the world. I noticed the birds that sat at the very top of the tall redwood, the neighbors that walked to and from the center getting their everyday staples from their neighborhood hardware store, Orchard Supply, their neighborhood drugstore (Payless at the time), and the neighborhood grocery store, Trader Joe’s! This was it. We would become a part of their everyday staples too – we would become their neighborhood yoga center!

I share this true and silly story with you not because I am snotty 🙂 and not to justify the old cliché “you can’t judge a book by its cover” (although true). There is more here to convey.

Joseph V. Bailey, author of The Serenity Principle writes, “If you focus on the smashed bug on the windshield of your car, you will definitely miss the scenery and likely have an accident. Wisdom is like looking through the windshield, not at it.” Members, this is one of the rewards we encounter as we become more flexible from our practice in the hot room: to be able to shift our perspective and soak in the insights a new view from a different angle has to offer.

60 Day Challengers, you are about to finish what IS an undeniable feat: accomplishing 60 consecutive days of yoga! Physically, it takes a toll as we get tired, maybe even sick, and tight as well, in aggravating areas around the neck and shoulders. Mentally, it can be exhausting as you need to prepare each day more carefully with the right amount of water and nutrition. Emotionally things may come up and all of a sudden you’re crying for no obvious reason. It’s a journey of transformation as we will hear on Saturday, March 23, as we celebrate our achievers! For those of you close to finishing and for those of you that feel the task to the finish line is too daunting – don’t give up! In the ten years that we’ve been offering the 60 day challenge, it is between day 45 and day 55 that we see the most challengers give up – ugh! Don’t! You are so close!

You’ve come so far on this path that the final leg might be your most challenging and yet rewarding step. You have at least 40 days under your belt which means you HAVE it in you to do the last 15-20. What you may need is to step back and allow the “shift in perspective.” Anais Nin has a famous saying, “and the day came when the risk to stay tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” Bikram has a famous saying, “we stay stuck in the same mistakes 95% of the time because we are not willing to invest in the last 5%.” What are we not willing to risk? What are we not willing to invest?

Challengers, the gift you are about to receive is one of improved awareness. Your repetitive practice is the bug on the windshield. Wisdom comes from the insights that transcend the shapes you put yourselves in each day. How liberating to be between your 40th and 50th day and hit the biggest obstacle yet in your commitment to finishing. It is the very “sweet spot” in the journey that you’ve come for. Our inner remote control chalks it up to the usual “tough schedule,” “too much back pain,” “I’ve done enough, I can stop now,” and other reasons that we toss around and use to justify dropping out. As you graduate into yogi awareness, yogi consciousness, you can detach from the usual routine list of excuses (and valid ones too) and reap the rewards a small shift in perspective might engender. Your ever growing back pain might provide you the chance to be more compassionate with yourself and sit more than usual in the last few classes. This back pain might give you the opportunity to show patience and self-care towards yourself. A busy schedule to the end can give you the chance to invest in creative ways to think outside the box in how you might finish. “I’ve done enough” is the time to invest in your fullest potential. It is THE chance, right now, to not fall victim to mediocrity and illustrate the self-control you have in overriding mundane behavior. Of course, these are just a few examples. The Challenge is your chance to risk something now in order to reap something far greater later. It’s an investment in the mastery of oneself.

It is my hope that a few of you reading this might consider what is written here and get to it and finish! The sense of satisfaction will linger and fuel you for attempts at future goals. In your possession will be a confidence that you can do what might seem impossible at first look. And what you take away, that small shift in perspective, will have long lasting impact on the evolution of your soul.