The question of where home is has obsessed many people because on one hand home can be the physical house of the place where one grew up in. It can also be wherever one’s immediate family is. For me, for a long time, I believed that home is wherever my family is. However, when I finished high-school, I had six months of summer vacation and joined the army because it is mandatory in my country. I realized that home for me is the state of mind of feeling home.
What I experienced in the army cannot be put into a short essay of 5 – 7 pages because the amount of transformations that I went through then and the frequency of them, was too much. Sometimes I wanted the sun to stop shining on a new day. I wanted to slow down the pace of my life, so I could understand more, but this was out of my control. I was a number. Later, I came to be a leader of other soldiers (numbers), and I saw my role as a mission. I tried to always show my soldiers that I cared about them and that they had a shoulder to lean on for a while and an ear to listen to their lives stories.
The experience of the army helped me to realize, that I can do what I always dreamed of but was afraid of trying: leaving my family in order to study in the U.S. I’ve been in the States so far almost four years. It is not that there are no bad times and no huge feeling of homesickness, but mostly I feel satisfied with what and where I am and this is when I’m feeling at home.
From the beginning of this project, when we discussed venues, I thought about going to the Baron Baptiste’s Power Yoga center that is in Porter Square, but I was nervous about it. I was afraid that I would fall short of all the fit people there. For my surprise, it was quite the other way around.
I went to Baptiste’s Power Yoga on Saturday October 16th dressed as if I was going for a run – long sweat pants, undershirt, and sneakers. I called the day before and said that I was a student at Lesley University and part of my Yoga class was to come and experience yoga. The receptionist of the place was very welcoming and directed me on what to bring with me for tomorrow’s class and asked me to come few minutes earlier in order to fill a form and have a tour at the place. As soon as I arrived there, I saw a lot of people inside who were relaxed. No one looked in a rush to get out. The receptionist noticed me and assisted me with the payment and the form. An instructor came and gave me a tour. She also took me into the studio and helped me to settle in my spot.
The class started on time. They were people there of all ages, shapes, and ethnicities. I did not notice anybody out of the normal – no super fit or unfit people. I felt just like at home where I can be whatever I am without guarding.
The Cambridge Studio is one of the main studios for the practice of Baptiste’s Power Yoga which was first established by Baron’s father Walt at the year of 1955. Walt opened the first center for yoga of this style in San Francisco, California.
“More so than any other form of health and fitness, yoga practice is all about our transformation and our life stories” (http://www.baronbaptiste.com/pages/baron.htm). This is the reason for why I started the essay with the story of my early adulthood life. Walt Baptiste’s life was also focused on what he had as a goal for himself and the path he took to accomplish it. Walt was born to parents who recognized their son’s gift of education (or sharing as they called it) and supported him by providing him with his first studio space at their house. It was very modest there were only two rooms to have the students come there. From the age of fifteen to the age of twenty-six, Walt kept teaching others about the importance of maintaining a healthy body by practicing his technique of teaching.
“He [Walt] was among the first to promote a holistic type of Yoga in the United States, viewing it as a superb practice for ‘the purposeful evolution of consciouness’” (http://www.baronbaptiste.com/pages/famhist.htm). Walt received the title of Mr. America in 1949 and this reinforced for his students that he knew what he was talking about and that they should go in his path. Walt did not care about the body only, but he focused on the mind as well. Swami Muktihodhanada writes about this in his book ¬Hatha Yoga Pradipika, “the basis of this body is divine, and therefore, through the practices of yoga, a process of transmutation of the physical elements of the body into non-physical elements takes place” (9). The practice of the body is something that can bring results by itself, but adding yoga on top of it brought results that were considered impossible or unknown before.
Walt and his wife Magana expanded their family size with three children. The Son, Baron is the creator of Baron Baptiste’s Power Yoga which continues his father’s foot-steps. Baron is a world- known yoga instructor, whose expertise is athletes. It was not always the case that Yoga welcomed everybody. “In the early 1930s, Yoga was by and large still treated as an esoteric tradition requiring initiation and membership in a society. Walt opened the doors for everyone and has likely introduced over one hundred thousand people to Yoga” (http://www.baronbaptiste.com/pages/famhist.htm). Like, his father, Baron also introduced a diverse group of people to the yoga practices and now every year he has yoga boot camps according to his technique. In those camps, as he says in a short video that is on his web site (http://www.baronbaptiste.com/pages/boot.htm), he is trying to always make people think after they do yoga because yoga is not only physical form, but it is also a very mental exercise for them. J Krishnamurti writes about this mind clarity in his book This Light in Oneself- True Meditation, “to mediate is really important, because a mind that is merely mechanical, as thought is, can never come upon that which is total, supreme order, and therefore complete freedom” (p. 26). This was the reason why I wanted the time on the watch to stop ticking when I was in the army. I felt that I was disordered in my life. It all changed every time that I reminded myself that this period of the army and what I was doing was not about me or for me, but it was about my country and what I could give and do for it. My way of meditating during the army was listening to people who had just joined the army and were still confused about where they are and how they should behave. I reshaped these individuals with maintaining their personality, which is something very important in yoga.
There are all kind of yoga practices and gurus. One can choose from a wide variety of options that are out there in the market. The yoga culture is even getting larger every day. So how one could know that he reaches the type of yoga that is right for him or her? Everyone has to put for themselves the same goal at the end of the yoga practice which is to get into the stage that this individual has” become free of all desires that prey upon the mind, and who is content and at peace. When unpleasant things do not disturb, nor pleasures beguile, when craving, fear, and anger have left, such a one is a sage of steady wisdom,” (9) writes Ravi Ravindra in his book, the spiritual roots og yoga – royal path to freedom. This should be our daily goal for practicing yoga. For me, the goal is to feel this way longer every-day because I am just a beginner in terms of practicing yoga and I think that every person should not think of yoga as a one time amazing experience, but rather, a process that if one focused on it, he or she can achieve this goal for lifetime.
Yoga is all about how the self feels within the person that experiences life. One does not need to have money, property, or any other artificial subject in order to experience yoga. All what one needs to have in order to experience yoga, is the ability to quite his or her mind and listen to the unheard before, and this is the greatness that is in Yoga.