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Closing the Studio

This past summer, with just 90-days notice, OM Yoga in New York City closed after 15-years of providing leadership in New York’s yoga scene because they lost their lease.  Cyndi Lee’s response was incredibly graceful and resonates deeply with my own feelings right now:

“Also, it sounds cheesy but I’m just super grateful that the causes and conditions arose for me to build that yoga studio and that the community grew and developed, and it’s been beautiful. I feel really proud because there has been no badness, only goodness, and I think it’s time to celebrate that.”  (Original Source/Full Interview)

When my baby boy was just six-months old, my dear husband agreed to help me renovate the space at 1406 S. Negley Avenue so that I could start a yoga studio business.  I knew absolutely nothing about running a yoga studio, marketing, websites, etc.  What I knew was that yoga was the most significant force in my life and brought me great peace no matter what was going on.  I felt so strongly about it that there was no question in my mind or heart that I needed to find a way to share it.  My husband and many people who we didn’t know that well or even at all stepped-in and helped out to make the studio possible.  They ripped out ceiling tiles, acoustic foam, put together IKEA furniture, painted, installed flooring and more.  The morning that I opened, my mother came by with a lovely plant and I remember some of the first people to walk in the door—-Julianne and Bill.  My step-father came and took classes, my sister took classes when she visited from New York, my brother in law Andrew taught some classes and my father has played the banjo, provided refreshments and he and my step-mother have come to events and supported the community.  What a wonderful opportunity to experience love and support!  In this past year, Hearts and Hands Doulas have been holding their open house events at the space and my dearest friend and great supporter Cosy has made the studio more beautiful than ever before with her jewel-toned yarns.  I am, like Cyndi Lee, so amazingly grateful for the causes and conditions that arose for me to build that yoga studio and for the amazing community that grew around it, through it, with it and for it.

Now that baby boy is almost seven years old and we have a daughter who will be two this summer.  Not only have we added to our family, but I earned a Masters degree in Cultural Anthropology and have had and lost a full-time job in New York and locally in development at cultural institutions.  The truth is that there was never really a time when the studio business was supporting me financially.  I was receiving invaluable nourishment through my work and the dedication of the community and my students, but I always had a second (really, a third) job and this really took a toll on my energy and ability to dedicate myself fully to the task.  While my personal and professional life marched along, there were many changes in the studio too—-there was the move to a bigger location on Wilkins Avenue and the winter of 50-inches of snow in one month that brought my business to a complete halt for almost two-months and the floods and then I got pneumonia.  There were the most excellent teachers that came and went and some teachers that didn’t work out and some that stood by Yoga Matrika no matter what, but every single teacher made a great contribution.  Same with students.  There were those of you that came for one class and those who came to multiple classes a week for years.  Some students dropped-in with Groupons or other deals and some of you were generous enough to always pay the most knowing that my family relied on student generosity for everything—-the food we eat, clothes, medical care for our children…..But, every single student who even inquired about a schedule made a great contribution to the community.

I’ve watched you and been by your side as you got married, gave birth to babies, lost babies, struggled with your teens and made magic with your families while working so very hard.  You’ve let me share in the joy of your children and in your grief.  You have shared my own sleepless nights, academic struggles and the challenges of parenting and working and just trying to juggle everything while maintaining some commitment to practice and peace in my heart, in my house and in my community.  I have met the most beautiful friends through this yoga studio community!  This is intimate stuff and really, isn’t that what yoga is?

One reason why I think that yoga has been so “life saving” for me personally is that I have a greater connection to my intuition and have found mentors and friends that support me in using my practice to make decisions and live according to my deepest truths and priorities.  So, when I needed to make the decision to renew my lease at 1406 S. Negley Avenue or not, I looked for support from my mentors and friends and sat with my practice and sat some more.  What I have come to is that, at this “householder” phase of my life, I am not able to generate the energy enough to maintain a studio space on my own.  There are so many wonderful studios in Pittsburgh, established places to teach and space to use for events and workshops and meetings—it seemed important to recognize that I really want to put the energy and time that I do have into what I absolutely love the most.

What do I love?  I love teaching.  I love writing.  I love sitting with you and listening and coming up with creative plans for using yoga, meditation and breath to support great healing for you.  I love practicing yoga and I delight in the 20-minutes a day when I just sit.  Yes, “just sitting” is way up there on the list of things that I love.  But I also like knitting and haven’t had my hands in clay in far too long.  I don’t want to even share with you the last time my cello was in tune………I think it was two-weeks before I was due to have Nicholas and I finally got too huge to hold the instrument properly?  My children are a constant delight and to miss evenings of homework and stories and bath times……it’s too much of a sacrifice.  I will be a better teacher if I use my energies according to my deepest loves and priorities.

I don’t know if you happened to notice, but none of the things that are required to run a yoga studio were on my list of loves.  It’s not anyone’s fault, but my number is the number that gets called when keys don’t work in locks, when the garbage hasn’t been taken out in a while or when we’re out of toilet paper.  My heart drops just thinking about all the times that a favorite teacher decided that they just couldn’t teach anymore or they got a better paying gig or a teaching job at a more established studio or they got sick and tired of not being compensated appropriately………and I was forced to change the schedule with little to no notice.  Again, I don’t blame anyone, but managing other teachers, maintaining the space, sitting on my computer for hours and hours a week doing data entry, managing accounts, answering e-mail messages.  Well, those just aren’t my loves.  Not only that, but I am just at a very different place in life than I was almost six-years ago when I originally opened the studio.  It is my responsibility to run a fiscally responsible business and to be able to honor class packages and compensate teachers competitively—-if I can’t do this, then it is time to rest, breathe and re-birth this business at a time when I can do it responsibly.

The beautiful thing about this “end” is that it is really a beginning and only wonderful things have come out of having a studio of my own.  I have an incredible appreciation for studio owners and people who can and do support thriving yoga businesses like this.  I know that thousands of students over the years—-yes, THOUSANDS, have been introduced to a mindful and healing practice that they can turn to at any time and in any place to feel better.  I know that I have received great mentoring, counseling, advice, care and some of the most beautiful works of art I will ever own (You know who you are!) from students.  Also, I have been able to make a living doing what I absolutely love the most.  The opportunity to do soul-feeding work is not one that I take lightly.  I know all too well that most are just not so lucky.

I was really inspired by Cyndi Lee’s response to the abrupt closure of her own studio.  I felt that, if Cyndi Lee had the courage to step out of the comfort zone of her own studio, that I could do it too!  She’s absolutely right that we have to use our practice to sit with this discomfort and then let the situation unfold.  I hope that, in this situation, I am also providing some leadership to my community and showing that it is possible to make a terribly difficult decision and breathe through the discomfort until we come out on the other side.

First, I hope you will continue to take classes at Yoga Matrika with me and Marilyn and Bhante Pema until the end of April.  Also, I am scheduled to teach on Sunday mornings and Monday mornings at mookshi wellness center starting on Sunday, February 24th.  It is my intention to add more classes at different locations through the city to my schedule and also to deepen my commitment to providing doula services and developing my private practice of therapeutic yoga.  Therefore, although there will not be a dedicated studio to “Yoga Matrika,” Matrika Yoga will continue to be available to everyone who wishes to continue their studies with me.  I will continue to offer private sessions.  At this time, after April, I will likely use the very relaxing, clean and beautiful space at mookshi for my private sessions and am also available for phone and SKYPE sessions.  So, if you really need a bit of “Matrika,” I hope very much that you will call me and schedule some private time.  It will be a delightful treat for me to see you!

What is the studio schedule at 1406 S. Negley Avenue like for the remainder of February, March and April?

MONDAY

7:30-8:45 pm Meditation with Bhante Pema
[March 4, 11, 18, 25, April 1, 8, 15, 22, 29: if you paid for 12-classes you are invited to take any other 3-classes on the schedule or you will receive a refund for the 3-classes that are missed at the end of the session within 60-days of May 1, 2013.  If you have not yet paid for the 12-week series, then you will pay $135 for the series of 9-classes.]

TUESDAY

4:30-5:45 pm Yoga with Sharon
[February 19, 26, March 5, 12, 19, April 2, 9]

6:00-7:15 pm Yoga with Sharon
[February 26, March 5, 12, 19, April 2, 9]

 

WEDNESDAY

6:00-7:15 pm Prenatal Yoga with Sharon
[This Wednesday evening class will be held on 2/20, 2/27, March 6, 13, April 3, 10]

7:30-8:45 pm Yoga with Marilyn
[This Wednesday evening class will be held on February 20, 27 and March 6, 13, 20, April 3, 10, 17, 24]

 

THURSDAY

10:00-11:00 am Yoga with Sharon
[This Thursday morning class will be held on 2/21, 2/28, 3/7, 3/14, 4/4, 4/11]

11:15-12:00 pm Baby Yoga with Sharon (moms and infants until they start to crawl)
[This Thursday morning class will be held on 2/21, 2/28, 3/7, 3/14, 4/4, 4/11]

 

SATURDAY

9:45-11:00 am Prenatal Yoga with Sharon
[This Saturday prenatal will be held on 2/23, 3/2, 3/9, 3/16, 4/13, 4/20]

11:30 to 12:45 pm Yoga with Sharon (this is an active, flow-style class) 
[This 11:30 am Saturday class will be held on 3/2, 3/9, 3/16,  4/13, 4/20]

 

What is my group class schedule at mookshi wellness center?

Sundays (starting February 24th)
11:00-12:15 pm Meditation with Sharon

Mondays (starting March 4th)
10:00-11:15 am Mindful Flow with Sharon

Here are the descriptions:

Mindful Flow
Join me for this esoteric bliss mission!  In this yoga series open to all levels, we move with the breath creating joy in open awareness.  As our practice is a moving meditation, we use a variety of poses, breathing exercises and visualization techniques from Chinese, Tibetan and Indian yoga traditions to create flexibility and strength in body, mind and spirit.  This healing practice will help you feel centered, relaxed and inspired.  Enjoy a stronger and more flexible body as you build a foundation for profound happiness and tranquility.

SERIES I: Mondays, March 4, 11, 18 and April 1 from 10:00-11:15 am
SERIES II: Mondays, April 8, 15, 22, 29  from 10:00-11:15 am
Tuition: $60 for each series of 4-classes or $18 to drop-in on single classes (as space permits)
Register by contacting Sharon at (412) 855-5692 or send an e-mail to: sharon@yogamatrika.com

 

Meditation
Do you feel down, scattered, overwhelmed, anxious or bored?  Is your stress level out of hand?  Or, perhaps you have a regular meditation practice that feels stale and you need a new infusion of ideas, skills and inspiration to get you back on your cushion?  Regardless of your reason, join Sharon for this open-level meditation series where we will learn a variety of meditation skills for both seated and moving meditation practices.  Everyone can meditate and no experience is required.  After each session you will not only feel remarkably happier, but you will have very specific skills for practicing at home and on the go.

SERIES I: Sundays, February 24, March 3, 10, 17 from 11:00-12:15 pm
SERIES II: Sundays, April 7, 14, 21, 28 from 11:00-12:15 pm
Tuition: $60 for each series of 4-classes or $18 to drop-in on single classes (as space permits)
Register by contacting Sharon at (412) 855-5692 or send an e-mail to: sharon@yogamatrika.com

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