Saturday, September 22, 2007

Samadhi, a taste

I practiced this evening at a yoga studio in the Castro district of San Francisco – Yoga Flow. Why there, rather than some place closer to the Financial district, where I’m staying? A couple of reasons – first, a couple of teachers who’ve done workshops I’ve attended in Denver teach at that studio – Darren Main and Rusty Wells – and I admire aspects of them both; second, it happened to have a class that fit the particular time slot I had available this evening.

So I get there by cab, climb the stairs to the second floor (all big-city yoga studios are second-floor kind of affairs – street level is too expensive), and introduce myself at the front desk, where the teacher, Kari Zabel, and I talk for just a few moments, but enough to discover that we both took teacher training (her first, my only) with same organization, though in different years, and so we have common backgrounds and some common acquaintances.

She runs a very effective practice – both well grounded in manner and approach, strongly colored by Sharon Gannon and David Life’s Jivamukti style. She leads chants well, confidently adjusts students, and ensures her presence reaches the entirety of the very large practice room. The sequence she calls us through is deliberate, unrushed, and intentional. It culminates in Peacock, then slowly proceeds through denoument to Corpse.

Once practice is over, I change back into business clothes, heading to a dinner with colleagues back downtown. I get advice to look for a cab on Castro, rather than Market. The sun is just down; the sky is clearing; the temperature is about 68. I wander around the block to Castro, and I find myself in an early evening crowd of gay men.

It’s at this point that I experience the perfect integration of the yoga practice and life that happens sometimes – that balance of comfort and enervation and stillness and motion and exhaustion and enlivenment and solitude and company, of perfect equanimity and perfect happiness, of beauty.


I spot a cab a block and a half away, wave to it, confident of nothing rational. It flashes its lights, pulls up, whisks me off to my business dinner. During the drive, I find the refrain of Ziggy Marley’s “Love Is My Religion” echoing in my head. I simply am. I find the restaurant, get to the table, join my colleagues, and slowly, slowly, reenter normal existence.