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I’ve been here about 3 months now. On occasion, I have been asked, “what do you think of the yoga community in Nashville as compared to Seattle?”  Realizing that I had, in fact, made some observations, judgments, and comparisons between the two, I had not yet articulated them until one particular day when I was asked that question at a meeting of several established, local yoga studio owners and teachers. Talk about being put on the spot! Here I was, new to town, and having just opened my first studio. I was already wondering what they thought of me – I felt a hint of insecurity about being the new girl in town, new to owning a studio, and new to this yoga community but I quickly put those notions aside (yoga mentality!) and gave them the most honest answer that I could. For better or worse, I blurted out a few of the things that I had noticed. I will share and expand on those thoughts below.

1)      Yoga: Old News in Seattle; All the Rage in Nashville      

The very first thing I noticed is that yoga is HUGE in Nashville! Way bigger than I even knew when I committed to opening a studio here. It’s all happening! Right now! At least, that’s what it feels like to me. I’m sure it has been growing to this point for some time but it feels like yoga in Nashville is in its prime. People know about it, and they are interested in it, and they are willing to try it. It feels like yoga still holds a bit of mystery to Nashvillians but that it feels so accessible and approachable, such that even the manliest man will give it a whirl. :) In contrast, Seattle sees yoga as commonplace. Been there, done that. “Oh yeah, yoga? I used to do that a couple years ago.” It’s already on every corner, just like Starbucks. It’s an institution of Seattle but it’s definitely not that intriguing. People who haven’t tried it, are not very interested in trying it. They’ve walked by that studio on the corner for the last 5 years, and never looked inside. Yoga feels like it is still up-and-coming in Nashville, although it has definitely made waves already. The most exciting aspect is that it still has so much more room to grow and so many people to lure in. Kinda like East Nashville, hmmmm….

2)      A Devoted Practice: Do You Have It?

While Nashvillians take the lead with enthusiasm and open-mindedness, Seattle yogis seem to have stronger dedication to their practice and loyalty to their home studio. One huge difference that I’ve been shocked to find between Nashville yogis and Seattle yogis is that many Nashville yogis hop around from one studio to another; from one style of yoga to another; or worse, from a steady yoga practice to a nonexistent yoga practice. Again, this may stem from history of yoga in Seattle vs. that of Nashville. I taught and practiced with students who had been practicing for up to 15 to 25 years without intermission. I was a beginner with just 7 years of practice under my belt. Seattle yogis typically stick to one (maybe two) types of yoga and are in the studio 5 or 6 days a week. More interestingly, they practice at the same studio each and every day. Seattleites walk to yoga, bike to yoga, bus to yoga or drive to yoga but they would never dream of leaving their home studio to drive across town in order to get a Groupon deal at another studio. Unfortunately, I see Nashvillians wasting gas, money, time and energy driving all over tarnation just to “save” a buck. Not only is this harmful to the studios (making us compete against one another unnecessarily) but it is also harmful to one’s practice. I can see how driving across town to take a different type of class every couple of weeks could be renewing and revitalizing to your practice but driving across town in traffic every day is simply not sustainable.

Moreover, inconsistent/intermittent practice or studio hopping interrupts one’s practice and the community that should be developing within a studio. Yoga studios offer the student something to be a part of and lifelong friendships to be found.  As a teacher, you want to see your student grow, change and learn. We are all forming new friendships at the studio, and it is exciting to see students making improvements mentally and physically in their practice! I can only hope that I get to continue to watch my students grow and practice with them for years to come! Certainly, yoga is not cheap, and I am sensitive to that but I truly believe that everybody who wants to do yoga can either work trade for it or find a way to fit it into their budget. At Hot Yoga of East Nashville, unlimited yoga can be purchased for the cost of a cup of coffee per day or the cost of going out 2 or 3 nights per month. Let something go? Let yoga in. Commit to a dedicated practice, and yoga will change your life. Seems like a fair trade to me.  :)

Seattle Yoga and Nashville Yoga Collide

What would happen if the enthusiasm and intention of Nashville yogis met the dedication and steadfast determination of Seattle yogis? A yoga revolution, maybe? I would love to see more Nashvillian yogis take the chance to change from the inside out! Yoga is truly the fountain of youth but it must be practiced regularly – 4 to 5 times per week. Nashville needs yoga and yoga needs Nashville. Nashvillians need yoga to restore and strengthen their bodies and minds and help them to feel and be their best selves. Yoga will give Nashvillians the energy, focus and passion to BE and GIVE 100% to their music, their friends, their families and their community. Since Nashville is the IT place to be, and Nashville loves yoga, we can make yoga cool!! Bring it into focus for everyone to see and want to be part of – the revolution that improves health, happiness, and the world! Yoga for Everybody!