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May 25, 2014

Yoga Everywhere. ~ Emily Bond

531px-Vrksasana

This concept of yoga everywhere — of bringing your practice with you — of yoga beyond the boundaries of a mat, room, studio, or city — has taken the social media world by storm.

People are taking their yoga practices outside, inside, on the water (!) and documenting the experience. Yogis have gone into schools, have brought kids into studios, and have taken countless stunning photos of yoga poses beautifully executed in front of landmarks, street art, and grocery stores.

The yoga practice is no longer confined to 90 minutes within the four walls of your local studio — not that there were ever any yoga police to tell you not to yoga next to that statue, in front of that building, or in your front yard.

However, the support of the online community has made the practice of doing crazy things with your body in public more acceptable, and therefore more accessible.

In my life, “yoga everywhere” has taken on a slightly different meaning. My practice moves and shakes and twists and turns with me. My teaching has taken me places I never expected and introduced me to people that I may have never otherwise met. But perhaps the most surprising place my practice has taken me is jail.

The decision to teach in juvenile detention was an easy one. I like working with kids, I love yoga, and I couldn’t think of a single reason not to (besides the loss of a lazy Sunday afternoon). What was not easy, was explaining that decision to anyone and everyone.

Why? Why jail? Why juvy? Why not at least get paid to teach kids that are a pain to teach? Why teach those kids at all? Once I’d answered those questions, new ones were presented. What’s it like? What are the kids like? The facility? The guards? Are they violent? Are they mean? Am I scared?

Yoga everywhere is simply about not confining your practice to your mat, and it is bigger than putting your leg behind your head in front of the Coliseum. It’s finding endless compassion for yourself and for others. Endless empathy, kindness, and openness. Yoga everywhere is about finding new ways to bring your yoga practice to life, on and off the mat. It’s about slowing down to enjoy the moment, practicing mindfulness and compassion.

Sometimes that takes the form of an awesome asana. Sometimes, it’s taking a deep breath rather than yelling at the other drivers in rush hour traffic. For me, yoga everywhere is about the cement cell block that eight young men (or women, depending on the week) and I share, and breaking down barriers to build up safe boundaries.

And — off the record — my first class there scared the asana off me. But once I realized that we were just a room full of people doing yoga, I knew it would be just fine. The building is all bark, but the kids don’t bite.

Where will you take your yoga? Where will your yoga take you?

 

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Apprentice Editor: Kathryn Muyskens / Editor:  Renée Picard

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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Emily Bond