in a few days the broome street temple, home to ashtanga yoga new york will close its doors. i spent my formative years of ashtanga yoga building a daily sadhana at the temple under the guidance of my teacher eddie stern and his assistants. i'd like to say that a space is just a space. the more enlightened me will say that someday…maybe. but for now i just can't. something happened in that room - something cleaner, clearer, brighter - something like tea steeping, not for minutes or hours, but years, decades. it became potent, infectious, it buzzed. the walls changed colors, and changed colors, and changed colors, until the walls were moved, and again changed colors. with lectures, temple worship, holiday gatherings, kirtans, yoga therapy sessions, and weddings, including my own, it was a place to gather. for sangha, for in depth study of self. eddie always referred to it as the "yoga school". and yet beyond this, it was something else to me and for many others too. each of us may have our own ways to describe it and this is only mine.
the temple was an impossibility that somehow made itself possible in a city that doesn't seem to do anything better than keep the possible an arms length away. i wondered, 'how in the hell does this all happen in a city that's strangulated by inflated egos, inflated rents, and inflated ideas around money in general?' having the temple as a safe space gave me hope for the possibilities of mankind. really it did.
my strongest impression was that i felt like we were getting away with something that we weren't supposed to be getting away with. there was a 'this is how things are supposed to be', and then there was the broome street temple with its motley crew of students, participants, and devotees. it was other than. if we were in that room, we were safe from the "bad people"…the ones who might come and take this place away. i know that sounds kind of childlike, but that's how it felt, in my experience. we had the freedom to play seriously in that space. from the point of view of an artist like myself what's better than having a place to commit to self research and not be bothered? we were given permission, by the deities, by eddie, his assistants, each other, to turn our backs for just a couple hours a day on the constantly in flux outside and look inside towards the upper case SELF. it was a softer more gentle way for many of us to say "fuck you". we'd been trying to express these words in many ways for so many years, but finally we could do it by making an offering, of love and commitment. the practice, the teachers, fellow practitioners, they elicited what true love elicits for most of us…joy, confusion, disappointment, contentment, frustration, sadness, clarity, anger, jealousy, relief, softening, acceptance, letting go, and so on - all qualities of any valuable and insightful relationship.
in short, as my friend kelley put it, "it wouldn't be so sad if it hadn't been so awesome". absolutely correct.
i have the deepest of gratitude for this humble little room on the second floor of 430 broome street. i bow down to the teachers who served the ashtanga yoga new york community over the years, to the deities that sat heavy in the elements so that we may transform, and to eddie and jocelyn who invested their lives into this epic awe inspiring project. it was special, and i will miss it.