Turn and Face the Strange (originally published on 1/22/18)

This post appeared on the blog page of Reverb Charleston, a project Ashley started in 2015 to help make yoga more accessible across common physical, philosophical and socioeconomic barriers to the practice.  Problems with the construction of the space forced the business to close after only 10 months, but all things tend to happen for a reason, don't they?  This post shares my mindset during the last week of that 10-month journey.

Beyond this week, after 14+ years, I don’t have any plans to teach in yoga studios in the near future despite some lovely offers from a few dear folks (though I’m playing with some alternate ways to teach mindful, embodied movement). Reverb will continue to be a project for me, but not in the same way that I had originally envisioned. Or maybe in ways that I had imagined in part but couldn’t see fully because of the limitations of my lens of perception. Nevertheless, I’m excited to discover what’s next and to do something different.

When my family moved over the holidays I found a series of signs that I painted for the original Gaea Yoga studio probably 13+ years ago. This one (pictured above) happened to share info about the showers, thus the drops of water. That studio closed overnight, and at the time was the only place I’d ever taught or practiced. It was startling and painful, but in little time I found new places to move, breathe and share and ultimately that change was essential to my growth. As such, having lived through it, I’m excited to see what opening lies beyond this closing as it relates to my personal and professional growth.

I can certainly relate to the feelings of sadness expressed by people who have, in the short time we’ve been open, found a home in Reverb. I can direct them toward other strong teachers in town, but there isn’t anything else quite like what we’ve put together, just as there isn’t anything quite like that original Gaea studio – even though it has reopened in another location. It’s still a great studio, but different. Things exist in time and space but cannot be fixed or set, as the world turns and people continue to evolve and express in new and different ways. Ultimately as a teacher my goal is to turn people on to their inner wisdom and potential, not to create further attachments.

I’ve always believed and asserted that as a teacher, if I’ve ever said anything that affected or inspired anyone, it’s only because I’ve reminded them of something they’ve known all along that they’ve forgotten, or lost sight of, or contact with. Teachers may introduce new tools and techniques, but everything that gives students a sense of accomplishment and inspiration ultimately comes not from the teacher but through the teacher, who holds a mirror for students to see these ultimate truths reflected in their own experiences of themselves.

I’ll keep teaching, of course, because it’s what I’ve done for over 25 years in one capacity or another, and I believe it is what I am meant to do. But for some time I have felt confined by the limitations of the status quo in the yoga industry. This latest/first incarnation of Reverb was an attempt for me to find new and more effective ways of doing what I love, but ultimately I think the closing of the space will not only permit me but force me to think more creatively moving forward.

I came to yoga through teaching, not to teaching through yoga. I’ve always been first and foremost interested in empowerment, creative process, and the ways in which story of the individual has the capacity to connect us collectively. That’s ultimately at the root at whatever I teach, whenever and wherever I go.