In Defense of the Traffic Below
So I love a lot of things about teaching at Maha Yoga. But one thing that I love may seem a little off or counter-intuitive– the sporadic noise of the traffic below. Odd, I know but just hear me out. If you haven’t been to Maha before, the studio is situated on the 6th floor of an office building in the heart of Center City, Philadelphia. Like most 6th floors of office buildings in the middle of a bustling downtown, sometimes you can hear what’s happening down on the street level. And while, yes, hearing some dude laying on his horn while you’re balancing in half moon can be a little distracting, it more often than not brings a little smile to my face. I say that because each honk is a perfect little reminder of what is, I consider anyway, an integral part of modern, urban yoga– that we, yogis, are a part of the world, flaws and all.
Don’t get me wrong, time on the mat can be a sweet, very necessary reprieve from the sensory overload of the world but that doesn’t mean it’s without distraction. Whether that distraction is a post Superbowl football fan screaming “E-A-G-L-E-S! EAGLES” the Monday after the big game or a nagging thought that’s been circling in your headspace all day long that’s hard to shake, there will always be distraction. And while, it’d certainly be nice to live in a world without interruption or to be able to always practice in a beautiful beach yoga retreat worthy setting or up on a silent, forested mountain top– that’s not quite real life. As city-dwellers, we have chosen to live (or at least practice) in the community of a large urban area with all it has to offer. The city comes with a number promises from convenience to diversity to noise and distractions big and small.
Generally speaking, it’s easier to find your center in places of zen or awe. And, like on retreat or deep meditation, there is certainly value in doing so by way of profound revelation. The practice of yoga asks us to find our breath, our center, or however you want to put it. And yoga asks us not to just find our breath, but also to come back to it again and again and again even in the midst of chaos or distraction or the mundane.
Beyond all that, every beep beep as a reminder that the practice does not end just because savasana is over and we’ve walked out of the studio. I think (and I’m not the first think) that part of the agreement of being a yogi in and of the world is that we take the lessons learned on our little rubbery rectangles out into the urban jungle. The world out there, bustling outside our studio walls, needs honesty, consideration, communion, and those who strive to keep integrity in relationship (those good old yamas– the yogi guidelines for our interactions with the others). The silent, tranquil forest doesn’t really need more yogis but good news for us the loud, messy world does.
This article was provided by Adriana Adelé. To dive into this theme a little deeper this month, join Adriana for practice Wednesdays at noon and Fridays at 5:30pm!
Shortly after earning her BA in neuroscience at Oberlin College in Ohio, Adriana began practicing and studying yoga in 2011 after taking her first Bhakti Flow class in Oakland, CA. An athlete growing up, she was first drawn to the physical challenge of the practice but quickly delighted in the equanimity it brought to her mind and spirit. Adriana believes life is a conversation and is constantly surprised and inspired by the answers found on her mat– and the questions which come from those answers.
After moving to Philadelphia, Adriana completed the 200 hour teacher training at DIG Yoga in alignment-based hatha yoga, with her teachers Sue Elkind, Naime Jezzeny, and mentor Mariel Freeman. Through clear alignment cues and thoughtful sequencing, she encourages, supports, and empowers students to cultivate a deeper connection with their breath and body, creating a sustainable yoga practice to carry throughout life. Follow her on Instagram or visit her website.