Toward the end of a road trip to spend Thanksgiving with my boyfriend’s family in Gilbert, Arizona, we snuck away to a yoga class. We had searched online for a place to practice, but by the time we finally left that Saturday morning, we realized we would have been late to the studio we had planned to attend. Everything seems extra spread out in Gilbert and the surrounding towns—mile after mile of strip malls surrounded by gigantic parking lots.
Thank Shiva for MindBody, the iPhone app that lists nearby classes by time. Yoga Deva was literally the closest studio we could find that started at 9 a.m. And “warm flow” — the class description — sounded perfect.
Yoga Deva is beautiful, indigo blue with metallic and wood finishes. Shosh, the teacher and owner of the studio, checked us in. We asked about the temperature, because my boyfriend was worried it was going to be hot yoga.
It turns out that Shosh was trained in Bikram yoga and taught it for years, but her approach is much more gentle. Hot yoga depletes people and the stress of the routine actually causes them to carry fat around their bellies, she told us. Shosh has evolved her style, and her classes are much more creative. Not the same 26 poses in the same order, always.
Shosh started by chanting to Patanjali, and led us in call and response chanting of the first yoga sutra: Atha yoga anusasanam. Tuning in, breathing together, I let go of the stress of the 12 hour drive to Gilbert, the worry about the return trip, the judgment over the glutenous holiday food I had indulged in (despite recently being diagnosed with gluten intolerance), and the preoccupation with all that still hadn’t been finished at work and home. For 90 minutes, I was at home, far away from home.
What I love about yoga is how it balances and heals. No matter where I am, whether it’s in a group class or on my own, whether it’s a luxurious long class or a few stolen minutes at home (or lately, at work), yoga hits my reset button.
I’ve often thought about what it would be like to study with the same teacher for years and years. I’m grateful that I get to be a yoga nomad, studying with teachers of many lineages. There’s great discipline in the single teacher, single sequence approach. I get that, and sometimes I wish I could have it.
But then I wouldn’t get the unexpected dance-like variations on half moon Shosh led us through, her playlist heavy on Donna De Lory interspersed with pop music, and I might never practice toe standing and balancing like we did that morning, watching ourselves in the full length mirrors as we teetered, fell, and got back up.
As we were leaving, we talked to Shosh about her path, which has led to Nithyananda, a young Indian guru who says he is the reincarnation of Lord Shiva. We left dreaming about yoga retreats, India, Ayurveda, and people who believe they know who they were in a past life.