A Letter to the Lila Community,
In this time of illumination, socially, politically, culturally, environmentally, it has become clear that Lila East End Yoga, in the way that it existed pre-quarantine, is a thing of the past. The spread of Covid-19 and its international order to go back to our homes and hold tight to that which nurtures and restores us, has revealed another way of being. At first, I was heartbroken for all the doors that were closing, the growing debt, the lost jobs, the growing responsibilities, the increase of the economic divide, and the many friends and families dying. Amidst the sorrow and pain, however, I watched, listened to, read, and witnessed countless acts from around the world showing the growth of love, connection, creativity, and beauty. With every death is an opportunity for a new birth. This was revealing itself day after day, both inside and outside of me.
As my own heart softened post-closure of the studio doors, I myself sank deeper into the gifts of this strange time. I landed in the arms of my family and dear friends. I planted seeds in the earth around my own home. I spent hours in nature and watched Spring come into bloom. I spent day after day with my two precious boys, now 6 and 9, and my loving husband. I discovered the sacredness of the woods that were just a stone’s throw from my home.
As the months kept going by, the truth of what I needed, wanted and craved became more clear. My time was being divided as a businesswoman, a community leader, a teacher, a mother, a sister, a friend, and lover. I felt like I was failing in all ways. Stretched thin, worn out, and not available for anything or anyone. As chaos ensued in the world, so too did it spin in and around me: confusion, sadness, anger, rage, sorrow, and pain.
As the world slowly woke up to more Justice, it strummed a sleepy cord of passion within and around me. We are all being called to become more illuminated, for all that we are. If we could all speak our needs more clearly and have others hear, witness, listen, perhaps we can begin to lean into the truth of Justice in our bodies, minds, and hearts.
My truth: I am really tired. I am yearning for more ease to flow in my life as a mama, a sister, a friend, and a steward to our communities and the land. I am wishing to have time to sink back into my own heart and learn again what it is that I am passionate about creating and sharing.
Yoga has and always will be a practice that is not just about the forms (asana), but, a practice in how we move with intention, clarity, and choice through our days, how we look into each other’s eyes, hold each other’s pain, drink in our joy, and embrace the many waves of this life together. The practice has always moved beyond the mat and woven into my life as a practice… how do I Live Lila. I went into owning and operating Lila out of a place of heart and love. I wanted Lila to be a safe haven for students to feel at ease, available, embodied, and open to feel their hearts. As the current regulations to uphold health standards for Covid-19 prevention continue to be required for unknown amounts of time, it is clear that the safe haven of practicing in the intimate space of Lila is no longer an environment that is free of stress and accessible to all. With the added health regulations and parameters, it creates stress for me as a studio owner, the teachers, and you all as students. One thing our world does seem to know, is that this virus is not going away any time soon. The regulations would require spatial distancing in a studio that is small and not able to accommodate the numbers that we would need to sustain a viable fiscal budget. I imagine this next year will be one with continued heightened caution, and as a studio owner with a heart for humanity, I can not bear the idea of opening in a way that compromises anyone’s sense of ease or safety.
And, so, with all that said, Lila East End Yoga at 251 Congress Street will not be re-opening its doors. Lila will continue to host online classes, as well as events, pop up classes, workshops, private sessions, and trainings at Lila West within Good Medicine Collective at 231 York Street. For those who practiced within the walls of 251 Congress Street, please know that those walls, even though having now sat empty for months, are still saturated with your love, your energy, and still hold such a sacred space in my heart. I am so honored for the many beings I met within the brick and wood-lined walls of Lila East. I am deeply touched by the teachers that showed up, again and again, to offer space to move, breath, be, and feel. I am humbled by the trust you all put in me to guide and lead the way as a yoga studio in the East End of Portland for a decade. Thank you. I honor you.
I want to name and share thanks with the many teachers, artists, creators that showed up to hold and create space within the walls over the last decade:
Kat Oakes Englishman