CSOCS 3452 Yoga: Theory, Culture and Practice
October 15, 2014
Coolidge Corner Yoga: Gentle Yoga
The place I visited was, Coolidge Corner Yoga, and I have to say despite all of the things I observed not necessarily good or bad, I really enjoyed my Gentle yoga session. But before explaining the reasons why I enjoyed this place, I want to talk a little about the history of the place and the people who have made this place possible for the community. The Coolidge Yoga studio was first opened in September 29, 2013. So this Yoga place fairly new to the community. It is located in a very busy location right on Beacon St in Brookline, Massachusetts. Many retail stores surround this little yoga spot. It is very convenient for commuters because the T is right in front of the place. Further on, Tatyana Souza is the founder of Coolidge Corner Yoga. As stated in the website, she has been a scientist for most of her life. the biography of her, talks about she was in part creating medical drugs to cure people. However she was not content with this because she thought that some of the medical solutions they found were not helping, or better said, the cures that were needed for the illness was an interior cure more than a drug cure. She turned to yoga when she was pregnant of her first child. She “stumbled” upon a Forrest yoga class and absolutely loved it. That was when she knew what she was destined to do. She stepped away from her science related job and changed her lifestyle to a yoga lifestyle. Similarly, her husband, David Souza, takes a part of this lifestyle. He is the co-founder of this yoga studio. He talks about how he is an “entrepreneur’ at heart and how yoga has not only helped him mentally but it has helped him physically. This is an important aspect to yoga in general. I think it is important to know that yoga not only cures our mental or emotional problems but it can also help recuperate our physical body and also strengthen us.
The diversity between both the stories of the founders of this place is interesting to me. The reason being, their stories are so intriguing. She left a profession to be a full time yoga instructor. What is most amazing is how relatable their stories are. For example someone might not be content with what they do with their work. But by Tatyana’s story they can feel inspired and and like she did, they can find relief in yoga or meditation. They have relieve their stress and anger with yoga. Or if a person has had pains because of sport related activities they can run to David for advice on how to recuperate from a physical pain (again I say) with the practice of yoga.
This brings me to the reasons why I enjoyed the yoga class that I attended to in Brookline. I felt very welcomed by the instructor, Nicole Clark. I went on a Wednesday night, after a long day of classes. I was feeling stressed out because I had a difficult day at school. Plus, on my way to the yoga class I got stuck in traffic and then I couldn’t find parking for about fifteen minutes just driving around. I actually ended up being late. I felt awful because I hate being late. The formality of the outside of the specific yoga room made me feel nervous. We couldn’t wear shoes, and the floor seemed so taken care of, everything in there did. It only made me feel more anxious. When I walked inside the room I felt extremely awkward, everyone was already in mode of silence. I rushed to my spot and Nicole came up to me and told me to slow down because my energy was going to distract the others. I felt so embarrassed. I took my spot and tried to follow along. Their pace was slow, so I was able to catch up. After minutes of laying down I started to calm down. Everything around me was so calm and my body started to mellow down. I’m not sure how long after, I started to feel at peace. I couldn’t believe how wonderful the atmosphere was in this place. The lights were dim, there was a scent that made you feel a little calm inside. I could feel the calmness of the room. I am not very good with following directions. I get lost very easily and I try to concentrate but I get distracted so easily. Nicole was extremely attentive with how we executed what she told us to do and if we had it wrong she would correct us and whisper ways on how to better our posture and how to make it feel more comfortable. Because if we felt comfortable, if our bodies felt comfortable we would be able to concentrate better. They gave us tools to use, like blocks and big pillows to put under our legs or back. She said something that made me feel better. She said that obviously not everyone had the same flexibility or ability to do everything, specially if we were only beginners. She said it took longer for some to get used to it. I think this is true because my body is extremely stiff and it is hard for me to maintain posture for so long, I get really bad back pains. These issues with my body make it hard for me to mentally focus. However, marking the difference between physical and mental I feel like at this place or at least for the class that i went to, I do feel like they concentrated a lot in how our body felt rather than what we were thinking. We did not focus on any breathing exercises. It was mostly feeling relaxed and our bodies feeling comfortable and calm. Nicole talked a lot about “this being a class where we can fall asleep.” But she really didn’t mention about connecting ourselves with our inner self. Which triggers a conversation about yoga in our modern day culture here in the western side of the world.
In the introduction/ summary of the front page of the website, they talk about how their yoga place is ‘non-competitive.’ This is interesting because in order to have a business you immediately have to compete with other businesses. You have to be able to attract people to your business, therefore you have to make your place unique. In this place, what is unique about it, is that they have yoga classes for all ages. This is interesting to me because this point starts to talk about lifestyle. Just like any mom would want their child to play sports when they are little, or to be a part of the little baseball leagues or even the boy/ girl scouts, now children are able to start a lifestyle of yoga at a young age. This is important to talk about because what we are trying to bring into conversation is how yoga becomes a lifestyle not just a practice.
I think the idea of this also influences in the reason why the photos they post on their website of the staff have to be so “cool.” Most of the staff has posted photos of themselves with “cool” yoga positions. When we look at these photos we understand that they have the knowledge and practice of yoga because we say, “Wooooow I wish I could do that too, that looks soooo awesome.” That is when we say, “I’m going to sign up for yoga and learn how to do that.” All the visuals are important for their website because it creates this illusion that one day we can be them. But is that really the reason behind yoga? In the readings that we have been assigned, the masters of this practice talk about important it is for our soul, for our inner self to reconnect with the energy and to disconnect ourselves from the world that we are drowned in each day. Everyone’s motives are different. But in our culture, it is more common for the reason behind starting a yoga class is because it looks, “cool” or because I want to try something new. Or simply because you want to fit in to a certain group of people. Or you want to belong to a certain lifestyle. And like any lifestyle here in America, it will cost your pocket quite a bit of money.
The culture that I perceived at the Coolidge Corner Yoga, was what anyone would really expect from the typical western American culture. Everything was for sale. If you needed a mat, you had to rent one out. Everything had a price. Before entering the studio in which you practices yoga, there was things hanging from down the walls and a stand filled with yoga accessories. All the things you should have if you practice yoga. It was very materialized. Both women in the front desk, once they saw me walk in they asked me, you are new here aren't you? What did you sign up for? Have you paid already? They were very sweet and nice but they needed to make sure that I had already paid. Of course this is a business. In comparison to the Eastern world, to those who legitimately study and live a life of yoga.
However, in the mission of the Coolidge Corner Yoga, they to talk about how they want to cause a bigger impact in the world. The way in which they want to pursue this goal is by donating half of the profit of the company to charities. At the end of each year they want to be able to vote as a community. Their missions states, “...we will not only improve our bodies and daily lives through the practice of yoga, but we will also be aiming to make a positive impact on the world around us over time.” I think that this is also a unique feature about the business. Just like their motto says, feel good, do good, if you do yoga therefore you will have a happy body, meaning you will have a happy mindset, meaning you will have a healthy life, which leads to positive mentality and ends with you wanting to give and feeling good about giving. Because in cultures, it is always good to give. Honestly, I don’t criticize this because just the thought of them wanting to give and this being such a huge part of their business makes it pretty admirable. This would draw me more into wanting to join this place because I know that my money will be going towards something meaningful and in the end this will make me feel good. Subconsciously I will feel like this fills a void in me.
During the week after I experienced the atmosphere of being in a yoga class, outside of school, I decided to try to follow on my own yoga lifestyle. So if I went somewhere while feeling stressed I would try to calm to and concentrate. I would ask someone to take a photo of me doing a yoga pose that I felt would help me relax in a way. Or if I was feeling calm, just because, I would bust out a yoga position that I could never execute in our class. Of course for the harder positions I would concentrate more maybe even pad myself so I don’t hurt myself. Of course I don’t know the exact ways of doing this because without direction of someone with knowledge, it is hard to do. But I thought I would try to document my “yoga lifestyle” in a small handmade journal. Taking into consideration that making a small book out of scratch takes time, practice and concentration, like yoga does. I did not want to concentrate in the commercial or fashion style of yoga because that brings out another aspect that I do not want to present. My intentions were to show how yoga can help emotionally and mentally more than physically or culturally.
Through all of this experience I have learned how much people honor yoga in different aspects. These aspects being, either business, for mental and emotional cure, for physical rehab. All of these leading to yoga not being just a practice but being a lifestyle.
New Yoga Studio in the Heart of Brookline Offers Classes for Every Age and Ability. (2013, September 13). Retrieved October 13, 2014.
Tripp, M. (2013, September 26). Coolidge Corner Yoga Opening This Weekend. Retrieved October 12, 2014.
Coolidge Corner Yoga opens Sept. 29. (2013, September 22). Retrieved October 13, 2014.