I met Anna Levine at a yoga class taught by Zhenja La Rosa four years ago or so and we’ve been practicing together ever since.
For months we saw each other in various classes, and over time we started talking more: comparing insights about the poses, sharing recipes we’d been cooking at home, walking around our West Philly neighborhood as the spring trees flowered. We became kalyana mitra – a Sanskrit term that means friends on the spiritual path.
While I was in Mexico leading my yoga retreat in mid-March and we made the hard decision to close Maha, Anna helped set up a GoFundMe campaign for our desk staff and teachers.
Our yoga buddies are part of our chosen community.
Now instead of seeing Anna in person at the studio, I see her through the laptop screen when she takes Maha’s livestream classes from home.
It’s not the same. And yet – it’s so heartwarming. It makes us both smile ear to ear.
Just like before, we laugh and share insights about the yoga poses. We talk about the flowering trees. And we see our other yoga buddies too – all of you! We get introduced to everyone’s pets (shout out to all the cats and dogs we see in your living rooms). We make jokes and show off our new face masks. We check in about how everyone’s holding up in the pandemic.
It’s the sweetest. And it reminds me what is truly at stake right now.
Local yoga studios offer so much more than the asana classes that we love. At Maha, we serve great yoga, but we became part of something bigger than just yoga classes – we formed a community.
I can’t wait until we come back together to practice in a room together. The destabilizing truth is that none of us know when that will happen or even what it will look like. I’m working harder than ever to make sure we have a brick and mortar yoga studio to return to.
Maha got this email regarding my application for the PPP money. I, like many small business owners, applied on the first day. I had all my documentation ready and sent it first thing in the morning. I got a similar email in response to the application I submitted for Philly’s small business relief fund.
The programs may be re-funded, and businesses like Maha may get some support. But it’s going to be the community that holds this ship together. And honestly it always has been- it’s always been about the kaliana mitra.
To all of you who have been plugging into our community online, thank you! We have a special offer for you to share with your friends who have never been to Maha: three weeks of live-streamed classes for only $29. Use discount code COMMUNITY at check out.
When we invest in each other, our entire network benefits. There are so many people in our communities in financial crisis right now, and so many opportunities to support the folks in our network. I know we are all doing everything we can and it will take all of us to get through this. If you are able at this time and would like to support Maha’s desk staff and teachers visit our staff relief fund. Every donation makes such an impact, and all of us at Maha are so grateful for your support.
We’re never not connected. Even in isolation and social distance, we know we are part of a vast, exquisite web of connectivity. Thank you for sharing the yoga.