But sometimes something bigger comes a knocking, something in between the chores and clamor that’s inspiring enough to change even my stubborn little mind. Driving home from teaching class one drizzly dark Seattle night, amid the sweep of the wipers and break lights in front of me, came a plucky idea that pulled a string hard in my chest and sprung me into action. Why not open a yoga studio in my own neighborhood (currently there isn’t one) and offer classes for the Seattleites typically left out of the mainstream yoga loop? A real life inclusive safe space where we could attend to our physical, spiritual, and emotional selves. A place where the ‘yogas’ of cultures worldwide could be explored and nurtured. And further, why not set it up so that by simply arriving on their mats students would make a difference by being part of an intentionally inclusive community? And why not write it into our mission that we’d have an ongoing scholarship fund?
Alongside my passion for many things yoga is an intense adoration for the medicine ways of indigenous people worldwide. I’ve been in shamanic and medicine circles going on three years and it is from one of my shamanic teachers that I learned of bridging work: effectively, building a cross-cultural “bridge,” to spread and preserve indigenous knowledge, to enliven and protect the medicine ways of our ancestors, to heal Mother Earth, and nurture our communities. So, what if there was a yoga studio where you could get your power vinyasa on and study the medicine ways of the various American Indian traditions? What if this studio was a place to explore the ancient East Indian darshanas, known as Yoga and Samkhya, and empower LGBTQ youth? And what if this yoga studio was also for those of us with plenty of junk in our trunks, and those of us too queer, too gay, too trans, too old, too tied down by toddlers to fit into what has become the “yoga norm?” —In indigenous cultures it is after all the queer and transgender people who are the healers and shamans, the elders who are the keepers of wisdom and givers of guidance, and mothers and fathers who are our great teachers.
Well friends who don’t “fit in,” we have found our place in the order of things.
This idea has been pulling me out of bed at 4:30am most mornings for the past year and a half to put together the business plan and bring the dream into reality. Throughout the preparations my wife Daphne has been by my side. And through our intentions, prayers, and hard work Tiger Lily Yoga has hatched, an intentional yogic community space that welcomes people exactly as they are and exactly as they are not. A studio geared towards embracing our differences and lifting each other up. You might be thinking, well there are lots of studios where we can go to class and just be ourselves, and you’re right there certainly are a lot of studios. But I have yet to come across one that recognizes yoga methodology as spiritual medicine, linking the traditions of the ancient cultures, and a studio where the yoga demographic isn’t the mainstream.
What a slippery fine line it is we walk as people drawn to yoga. The majority of us are householders, not monks. And we might say that first we need to meet the cow before we’re introduced to the tiger. Most of us in our vata-aggravated culture are overworked and so badly in need of down time we cannot begin to cope with the practices of the tiger. Many of us have not an extra minute to spend with ourselves in the required silence and subtleness, the gateway into the deeper yogic depths. There is no quick fix solution to getting in touch with our inner Ferdinand the Bull, the quiet lily within. But this is where we must go before we begin gently tiptoeing up to the deeper aspects of the sutras.
So, where does one learn about the practices of the cow and the tiger? Tiger Lily Yoga of course. Alongside a full schedule of asana classes including deliciously warm power vinyasa classes, such perfect medicine for our climate here in the Pacific Northwest, we’ll be offering discounted classes and scholarships for Seattle’s foster kids, and Seattle’s queer youth. We will also be offering workshops and lectures related to Vedic sciences, from which yoga itself is derived. For example, Ayurvedic workshops in cooperation with Daphne’s mother, Margaret Mullins, NP. Margaret is an expert practitioner and educator in the science of Ayurveda, with special emphasis on care for mother and child. Additionally Daphne’s father, Peter Mullins an architect, teacher, and expert in Vedic architecture, or Sthapatyaveda, will lend his expertise to our community.
Daphne and I invite you to our studio located at the T-junction of Genesee and Rainier in a turn of the century building. Join us, practice with us. Get a good workout and meet new friends. As a community we’ll deepen our understanding of how to fill our lives with days that inspire. We will cultivate our radiance within, the shimmer that’s already there.