My latest trip to New York City left me very pensive about the quality of yoga in the various cities in which I’ve lived. The quote, “If you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere” comes to mind. Thinking about it for a moment, I realize that the bar there is set much higher than anywhere else. Everything moves faster, someone around the corner is selling something better and cheaper, and if you suddenly stop, you’ll get trampled.
When I first began teaching, my goal was to deliver the best possible class and 10 years later, that is still a very high priority in my life. I managed to find the most talented teachers in NYC and I adopted what I thought made their yoga classes exceptional. A year later, I moved to Los Angeles and even with the drastic change in pace, the quality of yoga was still inspiring. So I continued on my quest as I developed my own style of teaching.
This burning desire for self-growth is called Tapas, one of the Niyamas or self-observances from the eight limbs of yoga. Tamas is the Guna or quality associated with inertia and complacency.
So, no matter where I am, when I notice Tapas being extinguished by Tamas, I’m reminded of the importance of my desire for growth, development and raising my own bar as a teacher, avoiding complacency and, in my opinion, death of spirit. Why is it that the two major cities in the US have the best food, the best yoga and the best of everything? Because you either up your game or fall to the sidelines.