I recently had dinner with my friend and fellow teacher, Emily Bedard. Aside from our shared love of yoga, we have a summer vacation spot in common. Emily had just returned from McCall, a lake-town in Idaho where I will head next week to spend time with friends and family. Her recent experience had me laughing and looking forward to my visit even more. I asked Emily to guest blog for me, and her post follows the photo (Payette Lake at sunset) below.
When I started doing yoga some years ago, I started in a city. The studio was on the second story of a commercial building in a busy neighborhood, and the soundtrack from outside was a mix of tires on pavement and bus hydraulics and sirens and people calling to each other on the street. Inside the studio, the crowd was young, mostly, and urban and eclectic and hip. I loved it there. When I went to other cities, I could find more or less a similar experience. But when I went to the beautiful little Idaho town where my husband's family vacations, I had to do my yoga alone and that meant it didn't happen much. There were just no studios or classes or workshops to be found.
The town's name is McCall, and it wraps around the lower half of the deep, cold, mountain-backed Payette Lake and extends south from there. When I first visited in 1997, the town felt considerably more hardscrabble then it does now. No handsome downtown ice rink, no prettily appointed central park, no sushi restaurant. Those features began to pop up as McCall developed more of a resort identity over the last 15 years, but I've loved it in all its phases. And then recently it happened: I showed up one July and a yoga studio had, too.
Of course, I was curious. What would I find in a studio class in my favorite tiny Gem State town? Was this the way to link my Seattle life and my Idaho mini-life? What I found was this:
When you do yoga in McCall, the temp outside might be 95, but the second story room with its exposed rafters will still be mysteriously, pleasantly cool. When you do yoga in McCall, you might set up your mat next to a smokejumper, who probably recently jumped out of an airplane—on purpose—into a wildfire. When you do yoga in McCall, you notice a lot more callouses and a lot fewer pedicures, and this is instantly uplifting. You look east out the window in Warrior II and see the grocery store where you could buy a snap shirt after class, if you wanted. (You find that you sort of want to.) You count more men than in your city class, and more kids, too. You find you are the only one who seems surprised when the teacher asks you to "pistol-grip" your big toe in a forward fold. You take a dolphin pose and imagine your forearms are forks on a forklift, just like you're told to. And, finally, when the teacher closes class with a single Om and a moment of silence and a sincere Namaste, and then tells everyone, "Now, go jump in the lake!" that that is exactly what you ought to do.
So, yes, it was the link. And also, no, it wasn't. The experience was simultaneously familiar and new, comfortable and a bit awkward. It was, in short, just what yoga always is for me: That space and place where "Whoa, look at that!" and "Oh hey, I know you!" are somehow two sides of the same amazing coin.
-Join Emily on Sunday evenings for a 75 minute Slow Flow class at Yogalife Greenlake. View her bio here.