Starting with a bang
For the chance that love might live
Walking into “Alo at the Grove” can be an intense experience.
Walking into “The Grove” can be an intense experience.
Flamboyantly sweet dessert shops, both in color and taste, a bellagio style fountain, and a litany of boutiques will assault the senses. Familiar brands with eclectic architectural facades make what should be nostalgic it’s own adventure. It’s a struggle to walk through dead to the sign scream buy me through the algorithmically tested designs that are some how bombastically whispering, “buy me”
When you get to the Alo, whose choice architecture overwhelms the senses with yogic mannequins in their newest colors, then invites you to a trendy kombucha bar with stools, snacks, and smiling yogi baristas, even if you were initially intimidated, there’s suddenly an air of safety and you notice there’s a skylight instead of the sad, retail fluorescence we’ve come to treasure so dearly.
When I made my way up the stairs, I discovered there was in fact a full service yoga studio on the top floor, as well as their selection of menswear.
But honestly screw all that because the scene was set last post and an ambivalent, loquacious, consumerist critique of a shopping venue is honestly not what you’re here for.
At the top of the stairs was Talia, waiting to greet us all. She made sure to let them know I was her guest and to let me in. Honestly, it was a small gesture perhaps, but I felt incredibly taken care of. I think she sensed my general apprehension about receiving gifts.
I like to think I’m not an anxious person.
But I am.
When it comes to trusting that another person truly wants to help me, I’m often concerned I’ll be met with the reluctance at best and bitterness at worst. It’s a wound from my youth that I’m still healing.
And so it always feels extra special when someone is getting to know me and I can feel the sincerity of their desire to make me feel appreciated. The validation of the value of my efforts, doesn’t provide comfort here, because that’s conditional on my performance. I’m talking about the validation of the value of my presence. I think it’s because that experience of love and acceptance is one of the many gifts makes the world a place worth being in, to me at least.
When the workshop started, I had some idea what was coming. Being the only male person in a flexibility workshop wasn’t actually all that intimidating. I felt like the expectations would be low. It was my first workshop ever. It was also the first formal non-Bikram yoga class I’d ever taken.
Bikram can often feel like a planned torture session.
This was different.
It was questions and answers,
healing and growing,
Unity and love,
And I don’t mean that in a cheesy way. I sincerely mean that we were asked to engage our consciousness and understanding to incorporate the opposite of what we’d come to believe into what we’d been working on. Not to think of what we’d come in with as right or wrong, but as a piece of the greater whole we were open to learning more about. There were no right answers, just new perspectives to take with us if they helped.
I knew at once that I wanted to be this kind of teacher. To listen to my students and hear them. To take their wisdom and understanding and spread it through the room and to share my gifts with them.
I’d been told that before you do a yoga teacher training, you need to find a studio you believe in and a teacher whose knowledge you trust and are willing to do the work to acquire.
Suddenly, I had clarity. I knew that what I wanted to study yoga with this person. It’d be impossible, because while she was doing a yoga teacher training, I’d seen that it was full. And Talia lives in Tel Aviv, so I figured that whatever studio she taught at would be a little absurd to relocate to just to learn yoga. That’s a whole world away.
So I tucked that into the back of my mind and set to toiling away at my hip openers.
By the end of class I was glowing with the practice and all of the laughter. There were so many warm smiles and open hearts. And everyone had been so sweet and I even made a friend named Marie that I think I’m gonna have for many years to come.
On my way out Talia told me to hang on. I was a little nervous, because I wasn’t sure what I’d done that warranted staying behind to talk. First thought was I’d done something wrong in class. As a male person, I try not to hog attention when I’m welcomed into a space that is predominantly female. I’d felt really excited about contributing to the conversation, I know I talked more than most of the other people, but I was trying to help them feel more comfortable contributing since I know it can be hard to be the first to speak if there’s an expert asking you open-ended questions.
As I waited and helped people take photos with Talia, I felt a sense of ease though, because she hadn’t really approached me with the energy of a reprimand. It was cautious, but more like concerned about what I would say in response when I think about it.
And what she ended up asking me blew me away.
She opened by sayingthat she had really enjoyed my energy. That she loved the way that I was open in conversation and in learning. That the positivity that I brought to her workshop and the videos we made on Alo.Moves was fantastic and she loved how in between I would just write poems and take photos and talk personal philosophies with people. That she wanted to spend more time with me and get to know me better, which was really gratifying because the feeling was so mutual I didn’t even know what to say.
And then she hit me with it:
“George I would like to invite you to photograph my yoga teacher training. You don’t have to answer now. I just want to invite you to think about it. You would get your ytt done. And your room and board are covered as well as meals. The only thing you’ll have to do is pay for you ticket there and back...
You don’t have to answer right now. Think about it. It’s just an invitation”
The journey of this last year has been wild.
I’ve been learning to step into truth. Not to tell the truth... but to live it. To see where I am and call it what it is. To see what I think am and to embrace it. To then from that point, become what I truly want to be.
What I’ve really learned, is that if I want to see real magic, I have to be willing to be real myself.
Oh. If it’s not clear, I said, “yes”
...I promise I’ll write some poems about it.
https://www.alomoves.com/instructors/talia?instructors=talia&order=relevance& if you want to practice with Talia & I, use the code: GEORGE for an extended free trial. Namaste.
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