“Beauty surrounds us, but usually we need to be walking in a garden to know it.” ~ Rumi
Things are changing. If we are honest with ourselves, things are ALWAYS changing, whether we realize them or not. Whether it is something as mundane as the seasons or more profound as the evolution of life. As Heraclitus said “The only constant in life is change.”
Isn’t that the truth. In many ways we fear change, because it makes us uncomfortable. But we need change. Change is good for us. It pushes us and it makes us grow. It can and will make us stronger if we allow it to. Thanks to the pandemic, we have been in a constant season of change. As much as I am embracing it and hoping to grow from it all, there are aspects that make me sad and nostalgic.
A City Always Changing
Despite living in a city that is ALWAYS changing, regardless of whether it sleeps or not, when I moved I think I had this unrealistic hope, that it would still be the same when I visited and/or moved back. And for the most part it has been. I visited New York several times in the last year, and while construction projects had been completed or that old abandon building was getting new life, for the most part things were the same. My favorite restaurants, coffee shops, places I would frequent, and even call home were all there. Until the Pandemic happened.
There is no denying we have all been hit hard by the pandemic. As the epicenter for a few months, New York especially was hit hard. And with the continued closures of Broadway, the limited capacity for gyms and restaurants, and people unable to pay rent on apartments as well as commercial space, the city continues to hurt.
Which is why I have prepared myself for places I love to close. With in the first month, a coffee shop where I had completed my first couple novels and spent way to many hours studying, Announced that if they did not receive funding, they would close and they did.
As much as you can prepare yourself though, I have still been finding it difficult to find the words when I learned that Pure East was shutting its doors. A Studio that I had called home for seven years and where I experienced so much growth, cultivated amazing friendships, and where so much healing took place.
Just 12 hours after moving to New York city, Pure East welcomed me into its community and I never looked back. It was a community that from the outside looked intimidating, but once I cracked the exterior of the impeccably designed studio and sat in the artfully zen yet spacious interior of the rooms, I was not only welcomed, but felt safe.
On my visits to New York, I had been to Pure West, located as the name insinuates, on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Much like Pure East, the studio was pristinely designed and boasted world class teachers. Literally. Many of the teachers had worked at Pure’s sister studios in Hong Kong, before making the move to New York.
At a time when I felt so much disconnect both with in myself and the world, I knew not only that I wanted to move to New York, a place I had loved from the time I was little, but that I also wanted to do my 200 Yoga Alliance (and subsequent TTS) Teacher Training at Pure.
Thus, Pure East became my home, while I did make trips across the park to Pure West, and even taught and assisted classes there, Pure East was where for three months I lived and breathed yoga as I did my TT. Friendships that are still going strong eight years later, were formed as we not just learned the physical aspects of yoga, but also the internal ones. In a city where you can feel so alone as one in eight almost nine million people, it was such a comfort to see the smiling faces at the front desk, who not only knew my name, but turned into friends.
Pure East is the place where I finally felt safe to let go and heal, with the help of amazing mentors and friends, I could just be. Wholly imperfect and with a suitcase full of shit, it turned out I wasn’t alone. EVERY human deals with shit, sometimes it is just a purseful and sometimes it is a whole house. But none of us are alone and with the right support system, healing does happen if we allow ourselves to feel, if we give ourselves the grace to move forward.
Pure East was a healing oasis, a cocoon, that let me be in all my raw vulnerability. As I moved through a Sun Salutation B in the revered hot room, as Loren Basset played Puccini, tears would be mixing with the sweat dripping off my face. I would be comforted by the sweet adjustments from my mentors’ Kay Kay Clivio and Tanya B as they expertly guided me in vinyasa. And the soothing voice of Mary Aranas otherwise known as Mother Mary, would wrap me in a blanket of sweet comfort as I laid on bolsters, usually in supported pigeon because I had requested it, and she had acquiesced somehow finding a way to tie it into the Chakra she was doing that week in Restorative.
While yoga might have been the trendy hip workout to do, it and the teachers who taught at Pure East transcended that, as only yoga can. Despite the corporate atmosphere being owned by Equinox, the high profile clientele, and all the amenities one could expect at a ritzy resort, Pure East created a community, a kula that was truly yoga in the literal sense of the word: It United.
There are Eight Limbs of Yoga and the asana is only just a part of it. Without the pranayama you are just doing a workout, albite one that is disconnected. But combined, they facilitate the connection of the mind and body and that, THAT is where the magic happens. To be able to sit and connect and deal with my shit, with all my trauma and grief, it didn’t make me an anomaly it made me human.
End of a Decade But NOT Community
With Pure’s closing, it is the ending of a chapter. But it isn’t the ending of the book. What was built at Pure (which isn’t just a catchy hashtag by the way) is a community that transcends a building. Until now I had always attached it to that. To the magic that happened in those sacred studios whether it was the Hot Room, Restorative or Studio Six where I spent so much time in training. But as Yogi Charu says, our gross bodies are just that, they are not what defines us, but our souls do. It cultivated a community, but that community exists whether it is at 203 East 86th St or Central Park where I and my 23 other beautiful yogis did our final TT test.
The closing of a building does not end friendships, nor does it erase the memories and lessons and growth that was cultivated. If anything it forces us with the change to grow, to expand, to no longer stay stuck in the confines of walls but to take it and share. To further explore with in by taking ourselves outside first.
Change is hard and it is scary, but it also gives us the opportunity to be innovative. Even before Pure East closed, I was seeing the community flourish, as teachers began teaching on Instagram and Zoom. Not just connecting with current students, but old ones like myself who so missed their classes when I moved away. It also brought upon the realization that the Pure East Community is still and always WILL be there. Those memories, the lessons, the love are still here. It is just a building, and now that community can spread wider and share bigger with others.
Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu <3
May all beings everywhere be happy and free <3