Celebrating Anniversaries at The Shala

There is a very nice article on yogacity.com featuring the owners and directors of The Shala. I've taught there for the past three years as one of the founders and directors of Now:Yoga and feel honored to call it my yoga home base. On the occasion of The Shala's 13th anniversary (and Now's 3rd) the article highlights the studio's beginnings and their philosophy. It also includes a few quotes from me on what's been going on for Now. Since my contribution was understandably edited for length, I thought I would include it in its entirety here. It was helpful to me to have the chance to articulate some thoughts about Now's approach to yoga. Enjoy.

YogaCity: How has Now:Yoga evolved since you moved across the street after OM closed?

Edward Jones: I think one of the things we all loved about OM was that the teaching felt very authentic in the sense that everyone was teaching the truth of their own practice. I always had the feeling there that my teachers were sharing something very personal that they had learned through deep exploration. So I think that spirit has persisted at Now. But what that also means is that every class becomes a reflection of the particular teacher leading it. It’s a question we have contemplated and debated quite a bit: what is the Now “style” of yoga? So many of the little details that add up to a particular style arise out of physical choices—the breath count, the specific sequence of surya namaskar, this pose always has this alignment, etc. But I think Now’s style arises very consciously from a sense of mental and emotional investigation—how does the pose feel when you approach it in this way vs. that? What happens in your mind when you lose your balance in ardha chandrasana? What have you learned about yourself in this class? This emphasis on attention and svadyaya is what unites Now’s teachers, and of course it informs our teacher training program as well. We just completed our first program here in NYC and my hope for all of our graduates is that they feel confident in their ability to communicate the language of yoga to anyone they encounter, no matter the level of physical ability or stage in life. Yoga can and should be completely inclusive, and our orientation at Now is to make the practice an open exploration.

YC: How have the past 3 years been for you. What do you love about The Shala?

EJ: I had practiced at The Shala a few times before we were invited into their space, and I always loved the warmth and lack of pretension I felt walking through the door. Aside from a handful of images on the walls and a stunning marble reclining Buddha, the shala is a beautifully blank canvas upon which to create your practice. The front room is so expansive and airy, and the back room is such an intimate, warm space—we sometimes call it the “jewel box”—it really is an ideal environment to spend some time getting to know yourself. Kristin and Barbara have been so generous and supportive of Now as we continue to settle in and grow. And I think generosity and support are really the two qualities that make The Shala special—the openness that Kristin and Barbara bring to how they conduct their business is so refreshing. I feel like they are game for anything that serves our community. I can’t overstate their big-heartedness and warmth.

YC: What’re you guys doing to celebrate Now’s third birthday?

EJ: We’re looking forward to a great party. Chanting is not a big part of the Now practice aside from an om or three at the beginning and end of class, so the kirtan will be a fun way to branch out a bit and embrace The Shala’s community and merge our voices together. I also love the idea of everyone, teachers and students, getting the chance to socialize. We spend so much time together moving and breathing, but very often don’t even know the name of that person we see across the room day after day. The friendships I’ve made through yoga are some of the best and strongest in my life, so I always welcome an opportunity to foster more community.

YC: What’s next for Now:Yoga? 

EJ: Our most recent teacher training was such a great experience, so we’re very excited about our next round beginning in September (nowyogany.com or facebook.com/nowyoga). And an advanced 300 hour TT is in the works too! We also have plans to start up an email newsletter, including some video clips—little tips and practices—that have been fun to record. Frank has been going to Japan a couple of times a year to teach. And Joe and I have been involved in Awakened Life School of Yoga’s teacher trainings in Costa Rica and Bali (recharge-retreats.com), including one beginning on June 27th! The amazing Margi Young (downtowndog.com) will be in town for a bit over the Summer and she and I will do a Farm-to-Yoga day retreat (farmtoyoga.com) on August 8th. Joe has been writing great articles on anatomy that you can find at joemilleryoga.com. And I’ve been contributing articles on breathing to Real Simple Magazine, including this past April and a couple of upcoming issues. I’ve also got a website, wheelandaxle.net.