In March 2020, Yoga Mendocino was on the threshold of rolling out several changes that we hoped would nudge us into a more financially sustainable territory. Yoga teacher Amelia Bernard spearheaded a beautiful new logo design with alluring colors. The Community Foundation granted us funds to upgrade our website and registration software to reflect modern technology (imagine no more paper trails!). With that reward, we planned to order new props and give the studio space some freshening-up. But when the COVID-19 lifestyle quickly became the new axis of rotation, we knew we had to evolve in a different direction in order to survive. Our beloved studio space was a casualty in that sad-but-necessary evolution.
Historically, Yoga Mendocino (YoMo) has called itself a sanctuary, a refuge for the spirit. The golden hardwood floors bouncing just enough to absorb our steps. The arched windows allowing warm light from the Eastern sky. The courtyard offering dappled shadows each afternoon. Embraces and greetings from fellow students – some of whom we seldom see outside the studio. The shared bows of Namastes and silent reflection. The teachings paving a path to the resting places of the heart.
Many, including board members, have wondered over the past months: Who are we without this sublime Mason Street home?
The truth is, we aren’t sure what this organization will look like after the pandemic era. What we do know is that our core remains the same: We care about community and its wellbeing. We believe in cultivating loving-kindness and compassion. We stand for inclusivity. We consider yoga and meditation to be invaluable practices for physical, emotional, and spiritual self-care.
And perhaps most importantly, we teach that yoga and yoga-based practices are avenues that help you venture more closely to the truth and light – the sanctuary – within you. After the oh-so-cozy props and the studio walls are removed, we all still have a place of “home” within us calling us to peace and connection.
So, it follows that YoMo will continue to be a symbolic sanctuary: a reminder of this inner solace, a reminder of our connection to each other and to all that is, and a resource to help us strengthen those connections. A yoga-based community support organization.
You’re probably wondering how this may look in concrete terms. Our upgraded website (and particularly the addition of this blog function) will be our primary form of communication, along with our Facebook and Instagram pages and our usual email newsletter. Look to the website also as a “clearinghouse” for community yoga and meditation happenings. These will include YoMo teachers who have transitioned to a Zoom setting in addition to referrals for other teachings, sites, or organizations that we think could be beneficial. Watch, too, for radio clips, occasional free online classes, more virtual workshops and fundraisers, recipes from the Ayurvedic tradition, and even pop-up events when we feel it is safe to gather again.
We hope we can remain a beacon of love and root ourselves as an example of adaptability and resilience. We’d like to be an aid for staying grounded in the midst of tremendous upheaval, fear, and chaos.
A particularly poignant teaching of yoga is to practice becoming comfortable in the here-and-now: moving out of the past and resisting the fear of the future. Meeting each moment with equanimity and with right action, with Samma Kammanta in the Buddhist tradition. There have hardly been better moments than now to practice these teachings.
The world is calling in these cascading present moments of crisis: to be more compassionate toward ourselves, more loving toward others, more connected and empathetic to nature. In Sanskrit we call this Ahimsa, which means the conscious consideration and love for one’s self and others.
And so it is that Yoga Mendocino opens its eyes each morning and continues in the best and most sustainable way we can; and with a deep dive into the practice of getting to know the unknown. And as always, we move forward with loving-kindness and gratitude continually directed to each of you for keeping us alive in your hearts.
An important process for navigating our way forward will be to align the needs of our community – your needs – with our mission and values. We would love to hear from you with ideas and hopes you might have, or if you have extra time and energy to give. Do you want to help host a virtual event or fundraiser? Would you like to contribute a blog idea or content? Do you have an important community resource you’d like for us to share? Are you interested in joining our Board of Directors to help us traverse the future? Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
From our hearts to yours.
Submitted by Iris L. Padgett, LMFT, LPCC
YoMo Managing Director