Thank you, 2020, for bringing out what lay hidden. Time has profoundly shown us not to take it all for granted. The daily news of people dying has forced us to shake off the entitlements that prevent any sense of real presence in life, our authentic and meaningful life. The precious moments in my life are no longer hidden. I hope your moments also reflected and revealed a feeling of goodness found in time that’s well spent. We all have much to be grateful for – the privilege of being human is a gift.

Bikram Yoga San Jose has revealed, with you included, to be much more than a place to gather, but also a symbol of what it means to gather everywhere – BYSJ Everywhere. During the Covid-19 era, we’ve realized that the BYSJ spirit reaches far beyond the building in which it’s housed. Social Media, you may have your issues, but thank you for keeping us connected, carrying our studio vibe to yogis worldwide; it may have helped heal a fractured yoga community. My new friends around the globe seem like neighbors that I can “see” anytime as if I’m peering through my kitchen window. Covid-19 brought out a vulnerability to our human condition, eliminating any favoritism; a strange common ground hidden in the weeds has begun to sprout – we are more the same than we may have thought.

In our first studio, the yoga room was not quite 1,000 square feet, and we filled it with an abundance of eager yoga practitioners. I used to tell Chris Canevaro, BYSJ Manager, that these classes were changing the soil on which we practiced, and it would spread. That point was the sole reason why we wouldn’t move away from Westgate West Shopping Center. Chris thought I was crazy, but I knew he also understood that something was happening to the very nature of the spot on which we toiled. We moved next door and then moved next door again in this same center, spreading this soil.

Because of stay-at-home orders and our need to close the indoor studio, we took over the adjacent parking lot. Our landlord granted permission to create a 2,500 square foot outdoor yoga room, bordered by yellow perimeter tape and cones. Ask anyone who practices outside, and they will tell you that it has an energy like our yoga room. Despite the rain, wind, smoke, noise, bright sun, and bitter cold, that pocket of space stays sacred, awaiting our heartfelt practice to christen the asphalt. Chris is no longer with us, but I know he’s whispering in my ear to “grow the soil.”

When it comes to online classes, this “soil” isn’t made of dirt, but it’s there nonetheless. I’ve often thought about how BYSJ would grow, and indeed I have visions of opening more studios with my “soil story” in mind. If you stay with the idea that God has the plans and stay open to his Will, you don’t discount His Ways, even if they’re differing ways.

BYSJ members, I have not seen many of you in months, maybe even a year now. That bothers me A LOT. One of the main reasons I am writing this is because I want to reach those who originally came to BYSJ to grow. The seed you planted with your practice, coupled with the trust you’ve given to the staff and me to till the soil properly, is awaiting you. There are many places and approaches to grow and harvest from seed, but not many have the kind of soil of BYSJ. It’s not to brag or push to have you return – take it as a gentle reminder and an invitation back to the roots you started, to the journey you began, and then continue.

One of the messages Rajashree gave during her recent Holiday Chai Zoom chat was her desire that all of us try to sustain all that we’ve gleaned from this time; it most likely won’t arise again for decades to come. Yes, we’ll “go back,” but what will we bring with us? I’ve thought about that, and I want to ensure my newer self makes its way into what I used to do. I know that it will, and I will be all the better for it. So BYSJ members, bring all of you – from the old ways and the new – back to the soil of familiarity. It will help you mature into new ways of being.

And the day came when the risk to stay tight in a bud was more painful than the risk that it took to blossom.” – Anaïs Nin

Make that day today. Today IS the day to start from scratch once again, and tomorrow will be that day too. BYSJ was made for these times, to be here for you in moments of individual and collective uncertainty, giving you that soil of assurance. Make each class, each posture, a chance to work with concentration, determination, self-control, patience, and faith, strengthening with a resolve that nothing can steal your peace. What a year it was, what a year it will be!

Happy New Year!