A Yogi in a State of Fear

Written by Rebecca Urban

For my first year anniversary of teaching yoga, I gave myself a gift. In September 2001, I travelled to New York City for a month of practice with master teacher, Sri Pattabhi Jois.

At the time, I believed a transformation for me would occur in yoga. Instead something far bigger happened. After completing my morning practice on September 11, 2001, I walked out into the world fresh, light and free. And then I witnessed the tragedy.

I recently discovered an email I wrote to myself after the buildings fell. Maybe I thought I needed to document this time in history. I imagine writing something into the cyber world felt cathartic.

“It is 5am, my watch is beeping a weak alarm, just enough to wake me. I switch the light on and rise. Slowly, I grab my yoga clothes and mat bag. It is time to practice yoga.

The day is September 13, two long days after the tragedy.

The streets are empty. A few stray cabs are coming down 2nd Avenue and one stopped to take my friend and I as far as we can go past 14th Street. It doesn’t feel like NYC. There are no cars except an occasional police vehicle. No lights on in any apartments, it is abandoned.

It may seem a little nuts to be heading to yoga in the aftermath of all that has happened. In my mind and body though, I know this is the best place I can be and the best place I can serve. Inundated with TV images, over and over again, as if I didn’t see it with my own eyes, and I did. Yet, the news keeps playing it and my being is tired of that view of the sky, I must go inward, this is my truth.”

Yoga brought me to Manhattan. In the midst of the chaos, and the outward frenetic gaze of everyone, the receptivity of yoga helped me maintain my calm. Our group was there for yoga and yoga was there for us. My practice continued through the month and my silent community of movers needed no words to express the importance of union.

Yoga is all about engagement, especially with yourself. With tragedy, some relationships become strained and others grow stronger. While my world has definitely changed in the past decade, the one constant has been my commitment to living my yoga.

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