The following is one of many letters we’ve recently received which has touched us deeply and reminded us of the beauty in the collective experience. These words reveal the value of yoga and community. They remind us of the impact we can make by showing up to fill our cups, and by dedicating what overflows to be of service to others in need. We hope it serves as a beneficial reminder to you as well.
Dear [studio owner],
We have never met, but I want to tell you a story. I came to Yoga Union at a time in my life when despair and grief laced my every day. A longtime yoga practitioner (almost 20 years), the most recent five years were full of loss, difficult change, and increasingly responsibility to care for my family. I worked, ate, slept, day after day. I could not find the space in my day or in my heart to do yoga, and so I fell out of the practice. And as I fell out of the practice, I fell out of communication with my body. I didn’t understand my physical body anymore, and I began to have symptoms of some condition which no doctors could identify—a sense of being literally out of sync with my body, which caused a sense of vertigo, dizziness, a loss of proprioception. A psychologist finally diagnosed that I was disassociating due to anxiety, grief, and loss. There were days I couldn’t walk without feeling I was wading through deep water.
And then one day, I passed by Yoga Union and I said to my husband: “oh, there’s a yoga studio there.” It wasn’t far from my home, and when I looked on your website, I was surprised by the number and variety of classes, the representation of both male- and female-bodied people, the connection to Anusara, which had been my practice for so many years. I decided to attend a Gentle Yoga class, just to see how it would be.
That class, Yoga Union, the staff, the community, the building—the sense that yoga had a real place in the world—changed my life. I started to attend on a more regular basis. I reconnected with my body. My symptoms subsided. I felt hope.
An injury in spring 2019 kept me away for many months, but I renewed my annual membership knowing I would recover and return. I had only been able to take a few classes again when COVID-19 closed everything down. But even then, the promise of Yoga Union kept me practicing. Here at home in my office. I work every day in online environments (even before COVID-19 forced everyone online), and so the thought of taking a yoga class online was dispiriting. But I kept up my practice—even setting a goal to learn handstands—waiting for the reopening.
I read the news about the Breathe Building with such sadness. For you, for the community, and also for me. I have long dreamed of a yoga community like the one that existed in that building, and of a building like that which could contain such a community. Finding it was remarkable for so many reasons, and losing it is heartbreaking for so many, too.
I’ve struggled to keep up my practice since the news about the building came. I struggle still.
I won’t be attending any virtual classes because I simply cannot put one more aspect of my life online. I will need to learn to do this again on my own for the time being.
Please take as a donation the remaining balance on my account. For your future good work, for the hope that you and the community will again find a place to practice. By the time that happens, I will be moving away from Portland for my job and my family. While my time with Yoga Union was much briefer than I would have liked, it was dear and vital and life-changing. And if I can in this small way contribute to helping someone else experience what you all have to offer, then I will have done something valuable.
Let me know the best way to donate the remaining balance on my account. And my very best wishes for you.