Reluctant Yogini by Sheila B. Free
I am reluctant yogini. I resisted yoga my entire adult life. As a woman and a social worker, surely yoga would seal my fate as predictable. I grew up with my dad, once a Marine, doing headstands in our living room. A girl’s gotta resist her father’s influence.
Until she grows up. And one day realizes that maybe dad had stumbled upon a deep truth. Seven years ago when I began my yoga journey, there was 1 yoga studio, Yoga Spot and I happened upon a class taught by the indomitable Bryan Carey. Since then, Bryan has become the steward of Patanjali’s Place in the Trotter Building 410 W Geer Street Durham NC 27701.
And it’s become my sacred place. A bookend from one series of events to another. Showing up to Patanjalis Place has become as natural and regular as breathing, which I now do more productively since I have had 8 years of practice, by the way.
Bryan has an uncanny knack for reading people. And although I had not yet told him about my father’s death this past October, when I showed up for practice he chose unusual music to begin class. Imagine me, fresh from Virginia the day before after getting that dreaded call from my mother. I arrive to the mat, stiff, body sore from a week of changed routine, lack of sleep and grief. And out of the sound system comes this haunting voice, Johnny Cash’s cover of the Nine Inch Nails song, “Hurt,” a song he recorded after the death of his beloved June and right before his own passing. “Expletive, expletive, expletive, Bryan,” I thought, “How did you know?”
“I hurt myself today to see if I still feel. I focus on the pain, the only thing that’s real.” These words tore through me in my down dog, my pigeon, my half moon. And then “What have I become, my sweetest friend? Everyone I know goes away, in the end.” And these words healed. There is nothing like being in an inversion pose, creating a puddle on your mat of your own tears to let you know that you really miss your dad, which means you had the great fortune, blessing, experience of being deeply and wholly loved and of loving. And there’s nothing like the rhythm of yoga studios, community, and friends who hold you, a beautiful tether you back to yourself. And your breath. And your practice. “Yoga on and off the mat,” Bryan says. And he’s right.
If you, like me, are a reluctant yogi or yogini, I highly recommend Patanjali’s Place, especially the Basic class Saturday mornings at 11. If you are new, the first class is on the house. I find a rich diversity of people in that studio, a fantastic location (right near Fullsteam….shhhhh) and some of the best hugs that I get all week. And those are also on the house!
(This is a re post of one of our favorite blogs on Durham Cool, published last year). We hope to encourage this author to start posting again on Durham Cool. Patanjalis Place and Brian Carey continue to evolve. Today would be a good day to visit the new location, same building, of the Yoga studio with a Geer Street entrance. You walk into Lotus Leaf Gift Shop and there you will find the man, the yoga studio and great gifts for you home, person and loved ones.