Growing up in rural Buckingham, Virginia, most locals were perplexed by the Ashram that is Yogaville. Literally. Yogaville. Sure, we'd take field trips with school, and kids would joke that if you wore orange there it meant you wanted to...uhm...you knowwwww...with the Swami. Townies would joke that it was a cult and friend's religious family members would reprimand our visits, saying "Yogaville is the devil's doing." I'm no fan of the devil mind you, and although I was young and naive, I always found myself intrigued by the lifestyle. If not simply the giant lotus shaped building with a light dividing the room. Alright that is a little Haley's Commet-esque. Over a year ago, I found myself in my first yoga class. Obsessed I became, and a "yogi" I aspired to be. I would bust out my best "tree pose" while debating over the night's movie selection in Blockbuster and I swear Marshall wanted nothing more than to just give me a little push. If you know me, then you know when I get into something, I'M INTO IT. And everyone around me will know it and know I'm all about it and omgit'sthegreatestthingever "In yoga they say..." and I bet they'll get into it, too. But with the exception of a few meditations here and there, I've let my practice slip lately. I moved away from Daniel and Yoga One, my favoritest studio, and don't really see myself following a yoga DVD in the living room floor. The OHMMMMMS just aren't the same.
When I was home in Virginia, I decided to make the venture down route 56 and revisit Yogaville. Excited, nervous, and still intrigued, I rolled up to the Lotus shrine, confident and ready to get my meditation on. OH MY HEAVENS I AM WEARING ORANGE. Seriously? Seriously. Praying to sweetbabyjesus it really was just a childish rumor, I took my shoes off, entered the meditation hall, and with a bit of difficulty, found myself in the deep "am I asleep, am I awake" state of meditation. I meditated for so long, in fact, that my foot fell asleep. THAT HASN'T HAPPENED SINCE MY 40 DAYS OF PERSONAL REVOLUTION CLASS and that meditation was MANDATORY. Then and there, I decided I needed to get back into yoga. My body yearns for it, my mind enjoys the solitude, serenity and peace, and in all honesty, it's another form of quieting my surroundings that brings me closer to God.
When I left Yogaville, reluctant to leave, I reflected on my past assumptions with the Ashram and other people's perceptions. They were based on lack of knowledge and fear. Fear of the unknown. They saw what they wanted (and in their mind, those were crazies who ran through the woods during hunting season, banging pots and pans and running the deer out) and didn't dare explore further. It's easy to become afraid and write something off. But why not open your mind, your heart, and explore a little? It will probably wind up being a whole lot different than you assumed. Just because one person says it's "the devil's doing" or reprimands you doesn't mean that they are right. Trust your gut and go with it. Who knows, it may just be the peace and balance you were looking for.
If something promotes the well-being of others how could you go wrong?
A catalogue of iPhone photos from Yogaville. Where peers used to joke "Celebrities come down here and PAY to be QUIET!". I'm sure I could find a few folks that would pay ME to not talk...
& YES I took a picture (post) meditation. I had to document the experience! I'm a photographer first, Yogi second. So sue me.