A few weeks ago, I heard that my old yoga studio back home – Modo Yoga Markham – was closing for good, driven by losses they just couldn’t recover from being shut down so long due to the pandemic. They made a teary goodbye post on Instagram, announcing that it was, in fact, the end for them. I didn’t realize how much of an emotional bond I felt to the studio until it dawned on me that I’d never get to step foot inside again.
That yoga studio served as my first introduction to the practice. To this day, I still remember the introductory class I took. I remember the stiffness of my muscles as we flowed through the sequences, and how my body refused to bend the way others so easily did. I remember the beads of sweat that formed on my body and how cathartic each guided long exhale felt, how I gradually sank into the comfort of my mat with each breath.
That first class was nearly six years ago. It’s hard to believe, as I write that. But I didn’t really get serious about practicing until around maybe four years ago when the stress from the last year of high school (back when we took life a little too seriously) often became too much to bear and I needed something to restore me. I remember carving out time at least 2 to 3 times a week – sometimes 4 if it felt like the world was crashing down on me – to go to the studio and flow it out for an hour, after dinner and homework. I’d walk in, with thoughts racing through my mind, and by the time I’d walk out an hour later, I’d feel as light as air. Like all the negativity was left behind in the room, evaporating into nothingness. It sounds like a joke to most people I say this to, but I think yoga got me through those years of high school and university. Life, in general. It changed the way I felt, physically and mentally. Is it too much to say that it shaped me, in some ways?
Since then, a lot in my life and in my yoga practice has changed. I’ve tried out new studios – Samatva Yoga in Kingston where I went away to school, Freedom Yoga in Singapore where I did my exchange abroad. I even gave up yoga for a long, long time because online yoga in a global pandemic for me was just not the same. The last time I took a class at Modo Yoga was in December of 2019, nearly two years ago now. That’s crazy to me.
Now, I actually don’t practice yoga anymore. The pandemic completely changed my exercise routine and since the lockdowns first started, I switched to home-workouts, which gradually laddered up into strength training and HIIT-style classes. The yoga now feels almost too slow for me now, too relaxed. When I’m doing it, I miss the weights that I have gotten used to. Two years ago, I would’ve never pictured myself saying that.
Why am I writing all of this? Because when I was reflecting on the changes I’ve seen in my attitude toward the practice, coupled with the studio closure back at home, I realized that yoga studios – just like any other people, places, or things – are not meant to be forever homes. They are not meant to stick around forever. One closes, another opens. You change, they change, the world changes.
Yoga studios – just like any other people, places, or things – are meant to serve you and shape you at a particular time in your life. Just because they’re no longer in your life doesn’t mean that you could have always gone without them. My yoga practice, at the time, was such a big part of my life; it shaped me. I genuinely don’t think I’d be who I am today if it wasn’t for those years of yoga. I wholeheartedly believe that. But now, I also admit that I don’t do yoga anymore. I haven’t stepped on my mat in too long. And that’s okay.
This also rings true for people. I think about all the friends that have come and gone in my life throughout the years, and how each goodbye had been heartbreaking at the time. It took me a long time to accept the goodbyes and the losses. It took me a long time to realize that people come into your life at a specific time, often for a specific reason, and then leave you at another time, also often for a specific reason. My parents used to tell me how life was like riding a train – different people get on and off your train at various stops, but you’re really the only person that is on it for the whole ride. People come and go. Things come and go. Places are your home, and then they’re not.
Now, I’ve started going to Sweat and Tonic, a fitness studio in the heart of downtown Toronto. It’s my new temporarily permanent home, in a way. Just this morning, I tried out a new class they had – a blend of yoga and pilates in their hot studio. It was my first full yoga class since the pandemic. We flowed through sequences that felt simultaneously foreign and familiar to me; it was like my body never forgot the Warrior Flow or how to move through the sun salutations, but was still confused as to why I was now suddenly picking it up again, close to two years later.
As we closed out the class with some breathing and some silence, I sat there in the heat, thinking about my old studio and how I missed it — how I missed the energy of the class, and the warm embrace of the hot air as I stepped into the practice room each time. But at that moment, I also was thinking about how much I was starting to love this new studio and how it was starting to grow on me. I thought to myself, “I wonder what will come out of this one.” Only time will tell, I guess.