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Endings & Beginnings

“Let us become more aware of the importance of endings and therefore make space, internally and externally, for new marvelous things to begin.” —Moritz Ulrich January Jivamukti Focus-of-the-Month

In September 2019, I traveled with a friend to the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY for the annual Jivamukti Yoga Immersion. We arrived early to spend a day in New York City before continuing on to the Immersion. Since I had never been to the Jivamukti Yoga School in NYC, I was eager to visit there, take a class, and eat lunch at the Jivamuktea Cafe. Having completed my Jivamukti teacher training just three months prior in June 2019 (a dream that took me 10 years to bring to fruition), it was very special for me to finally visit and practice at the original school (albeit in its third location in the city) of my teachers Sharon Gannon and David Life, the co-founders of the Jivamukti Yoga method.

The Immersion, which we were attending for the third year running, was wonderful. It was co-lead by Sharon Gannon and Rima Rabbath. I had practiced with Rima, a senior advanced Jivamukti teacher, only once prior to this Immersion when she was a guest teacher for a weekend at my Jivamukti teacher training. So I very much enjoyed getting to learn from her in a more in-depth way at the Immersion. But since she calls NYC home, I was sad that I would only be able to take classes with her on rare occasions.

Then a month later, in October 2019, I became a yoga studio owner quite by surprise, buying what was then known as Yoga 101, where I had been a teacher for a decade. (I thought, “Maybe I can bring Rima to town to teach a weekend of workshops!”) Satsang Yoga opened for business on December 1, 2019.

On December 22, 2019—the day Ram Dass left his body—was also the day that Jivamukti Yoga School unexpectedly closed as its NYC rent had become too high. I was very grateful I had made it there to practice that one time, and my heart was sad for all who called it their yoga home, practicing there regularly. I was also concerned deeply for all the teachers, Rima included, who suddenly found themselves without a place to teach.

Little did any of us know what was coming in March 2020.

As sad as so many were when the Jivamukti Yoga School had to close, it was a blessing to have closed when they did—going into the pandemic and lock down with their high rent would have been devastating.

For me, Satsang Yoga was only three-and-a-half months old when we shut down due to the pandemic on March 15, 2020. I had to pivot—like so many small business owners—and figure out what to do, fast. Thank goodness for loyal clients, Zoom, and the Small Business Administration.

Rima also started offering classes on Zoom in March 2020, in what would become known as the Souk Zoom Room. After my initial scrambling to reorient Satsang Yoga to being online, I started taking Rima’s Zoom classes in April 2020. Rima is a remarkable and skilled teacher—her genuine warmth and good-heartedness come through despite not being in person—and the Souk Zoom Room under her guidance has become a very special virtual yoga community that continues to offer solace, refuge, and satsang to all who join. I know I wouldn’t have made it through 2020 and 2021 as intact as I did without it.

A tender container that allowed us to be vulnerable and in community practicing together during the hardest, darkest, longest days of the pandemic, the Souk Zoom Room is soon coming to a bittersweet end. Rima and an incredible team have brought to fruition a dream that began after the Jivamukti Yoga School closed, one that they have gently nurtured throughout the pandemic—and on January 15, 2022 Souk Studio in New York City will open its doors.

And I’m going to be there! I haven’t traveled since September 2019: my last trip before the pandemic was to NYC and the Jivamukti Yoga School. As soon as Rima confirmed the date for her opening, I booked a flight and a hotel for the opening weekend. While the Souk Zoom Room is ending, Souk Studio will be live streaming some classes, so those of us not in NYC will still be able to practice with Rima virtually, but it will be a different, less vulnerable, and less intimate container. As Moritz writes in his Focus-of-the-Month essay, “Something has to end for a beginning to arise.”

So, endings and beginnings. 2019 may have been the last Jivamukti Immersion at Omega Institute—I hope not, but, you know, endings…Yoga 101 had to end for Satsang Yoga to begin…The Jivamukti Yoga School had to end for the Souk Zoom Room to begin… Life as we knew it ended when the global pandemic began…The Souk Zoom Room has to end for Souk Studio to open…Ram Dass’ life had to end so his soul could continue on its journey…2021 has ended so 2022 may begin. Moritz writes, “For anything to start, something has to cease.This is the universal cycle of beginning, middle, and end. We can find these cycles everywhere.” Looking for these cycles is a good practice because they remind us of the ever changing, fluid nature of existence, a.k.a. the Truth of impermanence. They remind us that endings are inherent in every beginning, and that new beginnings are inherent in in every ending. They remind us of the importance of letting go.

May you be happy, healthy, and at ease in this new year.

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