For about 10 years, I owned a Saturn SL2, midnight blue, tan leather interior, with those automatic seat belts that they don’t make anymore. I drove that car for more than 152,000 miles. I really loved “her” as she gave me no problems at all. But when it came time to get a new car I was very excited to be getting a brand new BMW! 

I recall the day that I traded in my Saturn. I was, not surprisingly, still quite sad to be letting her go, as I had a lot of great memories with her. One of which was especially meaningful as it was the last car I drove in with my mom. Even now, thinking about her sitting in that car chokes me up. Corny as it may seem, even a car can stir up important moments of reflection. And homes, even more so. Think of old homes you used to live in. The kitchen so tiny with no room to sit, but it was there that you made numerous birthday cakes for your kids when they were young. Homes can especially hit the heartstrings as we remember several events spent in a single house: proms; holidays; birthdays; graduations; etc. Bikram Yoga San Jose, as we’ve known it for almost nine years, has been a home to many of us. And that, too, will soon become a loving memory as we move on. Don’t get me wrong, our new home next door will be absolutely amazing. We’ve been ready for a new house for a long time. As yogis, we know how to constantly evolve. But like a special Buddha that has cradled our joys and suffering, we can also acknowledge that BYSJ as an entity has held a space for each of us to work through struggle in the pursuit of becoming our best selves.  

I must admit, even as I write this, that I am choking up a bit, as I will miss our BYSJ as we know it today. I can feel the compassion that flows through that physical container much the same as you would feel it from a best friend of nine years. Ok, again, perhaps a bit corny here, but at the very least, the studio which is a breathing spirit, is worthy of a newsletter – a gratitude newsletter. Just before we opened, there were huge thunderstorms with power outages and our studio was robbed. All the computers and stereo equipment was taken, we failed the plumbing inspection three times, and our yoga room mirrors were installed by a Mick Jagger look-a-like who was incredibly hard to get a hold of during some critical phases of construction, as he only worked after midnight! But despite the chaos, which was probably a good omen, BYSJ opened beautifully.

My intention from day one was to always keep the yoga room itself free of any words. No literal pictures; no pieces of information; no distractions. Just you. Just all of us in whatever shape, size, color. Breathing. Together. It’s been almost nine years now and still today the energy of the room allows freedom for the energy in each of us to move and change. Lately, my practice has included a strongly humble appreciation for what the room has given to me and to thousands – more likely tens of thousands. You might know now why we’ve worked so hard to stay here in this shopping complex. And you might see the obvious reasons of convenience, but an additional reason is to continue growing from the same soil that we started from. In fact, perhaps our long wait to expand was due in part to the timing of getting access to this perfect space next door.

Thank you teachers, 80, 90, 100, or so of you with your different personalities that throughout the years have led and supported our daily practice. Do you remember Stephanie Robinson and her one minute backbends in half-moon? Curt Patton and his “feel the mojo rise?” Barry Peterson and his contagious smile? And, who can forget beautiful Lalena and her guided meditation after each class – the best! And all the guest teachers we’ve had from Mary Jarvis, Lynn Whitlow, Juan Manuel Martin and Michael Harris. Oh gosh, how blessed we are to have had humorous and educational seminars with both Ren Soriano and Jason Winn, both of whom, sadly, passed away last year. Thank you to Rick Stevens, Darius LeGalle, Steve Pollock, Chacho Mariscal and of course Chris Canevaro for holding BYSJ together. Thank you to hundreds of volunteers for giving the studio its daily “TLC”. And, Mark, Jose, Todd, Min, Linda, for doing the behind the scenes work that keeps BYSJ humming. I’m certain to have missed many here but trust that as I finish my time within these four walls, I will have encountered you in my thoughts that gave to our growth and success.

It’s impossible to become a healthy business without a village of good people. Yet, the true measure of BYSJ’s success has more to do with our own personal moments of transformation within the bricks and mortar. There is where the secret truly lies. Over the nine years, our individual stories have woven us into a tapestry of collective hearts. It’s the very reason we get to expand. As Bikram explains it, “you will grow to the size of your container.” Well, folks, our container can’t hold us anymore.

So, while we are still here, let’s put together a BYSJ scrapbook of some sort collecting your moments of transformation. You know, that one moment that gave you an “aha”, or the one that convinced you that you had to keep doing this, or the one that had you feeling bliss after class, fleeting as it may have been. For me, as the owner, I have so many moments. I’ve been here for the most part, every day. I remember a time when I was feeling overwhelmed and meditated on bringing in someone to help me with the studio. Shortly after, I met BYSJ Manager, Chris Canevaro and knew that he was going to be someone special to me and BYSJ. I remember being in class knowing that something was very wrong with my health and in cobra pose decided that right after class I would drive to the Urgent Care unit in Palo Alto. Six hours later I had my appendix removed.

Yet, the most inspiring and influential moments are the ones that many of you have generously shared with me: climbing back to health from recent back surgery, healing from the recent loss of a loved one, attempting to lose the weight gained due to years of work related stress, coping with a divorce and no money, coming back from treatments in chemotherapy, attacking a sudden discovery of cancer. The list goes on. 

BYSJ has helped all of us keep in perspective that we are not our problems, but instead we are something far beyond the ailments of a frail or aging body. As that discovery grows with frequent practice, our vibrant spirit overrides the broken pieces and we begin to feel a lift in energy and a connection to each other. By sharing your moments of transformation, we can create a uniquely different but yet a collective model for others to read and follow. Writing really validates our ability to change. When we say it in a tangible way, it becomes an empowering tool for us to keep going. We have confidence to do more and we inspire others with our stories of what’s possible. 

Thank you for taking the time to write anything you feel illustrating your moment of transformation at BYSJ: short or long; joy or sorrow. It’s a great way to bring BYSJ with us carrying the momentum of what that small studio largely stood for in each of us.

–Michele Vennard