“Fill up your cup”, he said.
“Fuck, I’m really trying hard to”, I thought silently to myself as the hot salty sweat continued to drip down my face, into my eyes and onto my Manduka mat.
The whole class chanted Auuummmmmmmmmmmmm.
“Namaste”, Chad concluded and continued with some studio announcements.
Right after my first class I knew I had found another teacher who resonated with my type A, OCD personality who guided a clearly focused, intelligently sequenced and beautifully designed class. Every step of the way during that 75-minute class, he did not miss a cue nor lost the opportunity to teach through deconstruction and construction of poses that synergistically brought the physical and metaphysical to an understandable form. I’m just a sucker for good teachers who use props effectively and cue well, really.
There are plenty of yoga instructors in LA, but not all have yet reached the stage of being a yoga teacher. That is not a judgement, but a discernment. Chad magnificently scaffolded the sequence piece by piece, and every moment uncovered a new element that intensified and brought less effort to the flow. Somehow by the time we reached our peak pose, I found myself in full expression of my Hanumanasana which felt completely effortless and new.
But, life the last few months has been nothing short of effortless. I’ve been on autopilot attempting to “fill up my cup” and reach a better level of emotional balance. On that yogic mission to come to a place of comfort and ease, peace of mind and love, I’ve been finding it quite difficult to. Attempting to come back to the mental clarity I had after I went to Nepal for my month long meditation and the months leading up to our work in Armenia for Stega, I’ve been constantly looking back and yearning to reach that clear and focused state of mind. That’s been the biggest mistake. Latching on to a past that is no longer. In an effort to create space and expansion, I gave a break to my social media use for a full month. That didn’t help either. I continued to practice my asanas daily, but I still didn’t have the urgency or willingness to write, share or create. The only things that helped me fill up that cup temporarily were the practice of asana: teaching and learning. I was even fortunate to, very last minute, sign up and be a part of a 75-hour training at Wanderlust in March where I learned a lot. My cup was momentarily filled and then said cup spilled, once again. Nothing has been enough. My physical practice has not been enough. I’ve been accepting sub gigs left and right, loading up on privates as much as I can, working really because that is what I find salvation and comfort in. I came to the realization that the teaching and learning was not coming from a place of love, but a need. The need was primarily financial, but mostly a distraction to dig deeper into the discomfort without looking deep into it. Somehow, I managed to get into bed every night, with a feeling of emotional and mental depletion and a general lack of satisfaction. It wasn’t a lack of satisfaction from the work I was doing, because teaching yoga is the one thing that brings me pure happiness. Nonetheless, some void was there and I constantly had to remind myself that I have the tools of meditation and yoga to help me get through these moments. But, why was it so different this time? Why was I having such a hard time filling up that damn cup?
The realization happened on a late Saturday afternoon after I left ROAM LA, the new beautiful “mom and pop” yoga studio nestled on a triangular street divide in Virgil Village in Silverlake, on Hoover Street.
Like most folks, I’m constantly on a hunt for newness and a sense of satisfaction through external attachments, whether that’s a new yoga studio, new pair of sunglasses or a chocolate shake. Instead of looking inwards, I naturally find it easier to satisfy my needs through that which is not innate. But that aside, I was really looking forward to learn from Chad Dennis during the 75 hour training I signed up for and completed last month.
But, since Chad and Jenny, a husband and wife team who taught at Wanderlust, had the opportunity to open up their own small, beautiful studio, Chad was no longer a part of the training team. That left me with one solution and that was to follow him to his new space. Undoubtedly, he teaches a style that resonates with me, but it wasn’t until Adriana Rizollo’s beautiful chanting during savasana, where I realized what I truly needed was some good old devotional yoga, Bhakti, which is at the moment at quite the deficit on the east side of LA. Chad’s classes left me content and filled my yoga nerd needs, but it was Rizollo’s heart bursting final farewell with the harmonium that left me with the heart pounding with joy and the feeling of “fuck, finally that cup is filled to the brink and spilling”. I needed love. That pure authentic love that we all long for. It’s all around us, but we forget to see it when the mind is clouded and dark.
ROAM brings a great gift to the east siders who’ve got plenty of great options for physical asana. But this side of LA can use a little bit of softening and yoga love through this beautiful practice of being collectively present in a space under the beautiful melodious sounds of a harmonium, and expressing devotion and love through chants, mantra and singing. As I complete my first week on a new student special, I vow to balance the well formulated, excessively organized classes of Chad’s (you have to experience it) with the Bhakti and love that Adriana offers. There are other great teachers, who I’m yet to take. But, this boy needs some mad yoga love right about this segment of his yoga journey and I’m not afraid to admit it.
If you haven’t already, check out ROAM LA. If you sign up during the next three weeks, let’s take a class and fill up our cups together.