Yoga and Missing the City by the Bay


So, I’ve been doing yoga since the spring semester wrapped. And it always makes me think of San Francisco.

While I was out there that month (two summers ago–two! I can’t believe it’s been that long), I took classes in a fading blue Victorian across the street from Golden Gate Park. I could walk there from my apartment. The studio was also a commune, and you could stay there after class to have a vegetarian meal with the yogis who lived there. It was very San Francisco.

Those classes were beautiful. I’d walk a couple blocks, climb the hardwood stairs to the studio, borrow a mat, and chill out until class began. The people who took these classes came in torn sweats, with frizzy hair and beautiful, lean bodies. Our teachers chanted and sang, and we did a lot of breathing exercises. It was the same class every time. No hot yoga, nothing trendy, no bells and whistles (though I’m pretty sure there was a gong).

Light streamed in through a wall of windows that faced the park. The windows were kept open, and we could hear the sounds of the day going on below us–the occasional car, a school field trip, construction work.

Each class was an hour and a half, and I have never felt so calm, so centered, so relaxed as I did leaving those classes.

It was really lovely.

I am enjoying the classes here, very much. But of course they aren’t quite the same. Most people are dressed very nicely. Their nails are manicured. They have designer yoga towels. (The studio sells them for $80. A towel!) The studio itself is very nice, quite high tech, with special floors, a hot room, and large, expansive spaces. The windows are never open (it’s far too hot outside already).

When I leave my yoga classes here, I feel good. I feel very good. I feel like I’ve exercised. But there is a little magic that feels missing. There was something about that studio in San Francisco. Maybe because the teacher who learned my name was one of exactly two people in the entire city who knew my name and said it out loud. Maybe because there was a sense of continuing life there–this was a home. Maybe it was the park. The architecture. Or all of it.

The longing I feel for the city, for that time before everything fell apart, that longing isn’t unpleasant. The memories are clear and sweet. So, I will go to yoga. I will go to yoga and find, somewhere, that I am the same person whether West or East, whether happy or sad.

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