Asheville Community Yoga: my partners in healing

I decided that because Asheville Community Yoga has been such an incredible support to my healing process that I would do a sort of blurb for them, while sharing, also, the importance of yoga in my life. They are a donation based studio and rely on community support.

I saw this little video on their site today when I also discovered that they won the well deserved Best Yoga Studio in the Mountain Express.

I’m sharing info about this yoga studio for multiple reasons really. I’m happy and honored to raise their profile on the internet so as to help support them. They are truly in service to the community and so I too want to give back. Also, it would be lovely to see such studios opening up all over the country and the world. I hope that this post might plant seeds so that this sort of vision can be replicated elsewhere. So many yoga studios don’t seem to have the true spirit of yoga. Yoga has become a part of popular and hip culture, so that in some circles the yoga as lifestyle and philosophy gets lost. We need more yoga studios that are, as this one is, deeply in service to the community.

Number two is that the folks in the video talking about how yoga and the community there at Asheville Community Yoga are real people talking about their real experiences. I, too, have found that being part of that particular community and practicing yoga regularly, both, has radically helped support my healing process.

Three, I want to again, talk about how yoga has helped me in my life, in general. It literally raised me from my bed, where I had been bedridden for 2 years. My muscles were completely atrophied. I started with leg and arm lifts and turning my feet and hands in circles. Serious baby steps. And now I can do all sorts of stuff. See: YOGA VICTORY  — a post from January with photos of some of what I can now do.

ashevilleThe most lovely part of what this yoga studio has done for me is that I’ve been able to tell the teachers what I’ve needed (and still need) to support my process. Most significantly, that has been and continues to be, my frequent need to leave classes early. I set up near the back of the class and leave as quietly as possible whenever I need to. Feeling comfortable doing this has been very important. I’ve found that not all yoga communities are willing to accomodate such needs and in fact I found a long comment thread on NPR once about how intolerant some folks in the yoga community are about such “behavior.” As if there is never a legitimate reason people might need to leave a class early. I suppose it’s difficult for some healthy people to understand what a rehabbing body might need. Sadly it ends up being a strongly prejudiced belief that might be referred to as ableism. It’s also completely out of synch with what true yoga is about. Yoga is in large part about being mindful…it’s about being with what is. And if what is is a healing, challenged, or disabled body that needs different things than the person next to you, then that is what IS. The people at Asheville Community Yoga understand that without any hesitation whatsoever.

My iatrogenic injury, above all, causes a sensitivity in the autonomic nervous system. If I overdo (yes, even yoga) I can have a rebound effect that can put me out for a few weeks. I learned the hard way to NOT EVER PUSH…even with yoga…there is a difference between finding my edge and hanging out there and pushing I’ve found.  It’s a delicate thing but it was important to find. And now, even a few years into a serious yoga practice, I still have periods of time in which I really cannot do more than about 20 minutes of yoga at a time in the classroom. Sometimes the seemingly (from the outside) more “gentle” the yoga the more intense it is on my nervous system. So, really, sometimes I can do more vigorous movement yoga for longer than more slow moving yoga. One really has to learn to trust the body. And the beautiful thing is that yoga allows one to learn about the body in ways I didn’t even know were possible before I started a serious practice. I needed a safe place to trust my body and Asheville Community Yoga provided that. A lot of yoga studios get rather competitive and there is no sense that one can leave the classroom without disapproval. Of course that is not really yoga at all…yoga without attention and mindfulness to the needs of our body/mind/spirit is just calisthenics and stretching, really. I’m so happy to find a place where the spirit of yoga is there with the hatha yoga.

I also love Asheville Community Yoga because it’s truly a COMMUNITY. It’s a donation based studio and the teachers all volunteer their time, making the sense of service to one another palpable. There is every body type, age and people from all walks of life. No one is turned away for lack of funds and there is a deep sense of caring for one another. Payment is all honor system, no one regulates the cash at the door, so people can pay only what they can afford while 5 to 15 dollars for a class is recommended to those who can manage that amount.

I love it. And I’m deeply grateful that it exists in my community. It’s simply a beautiful thing. I hope that other communities might start similar studios.

For some reason my energy shifts big-time in the summer and I’m not able to do as much physically. I’ve been missing my yoga studio. I am back to doing more yoga at home lately since sometimes I really just need to do several 5 or 10 minute sessions a day and a classroom setting cannot support that. Today in fact I’m doing a regular yoga class video in 5 minutes increments. So I do get a good part of the class in…it just takes a few hours to complete whatever part of it I’m doing. This way my body still keeps moving, but stamina isn’t required in the same way as when does it all at once. This seems to be far gentler on my nervous system.

My missing classes in the community made me want to share about the studio because I really love it and want to continue supporting my community here from home. I’ll be back to visiting as my body allows, I’m sure.

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About Monica Cassani

Author/Editor Beyond Meds: Everything Matters