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Down the Road
13 October 2015

Down the Road
13 October 2015

Down the Road

See you down the road.
It’s what circus people say when they leave. Two hours ago I sent my own homestay group of Circus Smirkus performers—my son one of them—down the road to their next performance site in Essex. The house feels very quiet. There is a lot of laundry to do. I miss Liam. I miss all of them actually….their exuberance, their startling talent, their enthusiasm and hunger for noncircus things: Ashley is a NYtimes junky, Keenan an accomplished filmmaker, Lindsey is the most personable and friendly teenager I’ve yet to encounter. And apparently, my son can eat gelato with his feet (it’s not as gross as it sounds. He holds the spoon with his feet. Yup. Mad skills. Thank you, Pam, and I can’t wait to see the video).

There is a place where yoga and circus meet, in the physical sense, in form. This observation is not altogether comfortable for me, as a yoga teacher. But, given what I do, given what Liam does, I cannot help but ponder the relationship between the two worlds. As beautiful as it is to watch, I worry about what circus contortion does to the body long term. The aerialists do things that make my jaw drop literally, but I also cringe to see some of the extreme shoulder rotations that are part of the acts. Hand balance in circus is a wonder to behold, hundreds of hours of practice make for stunning control and strength and beauty.  But ultimately, what happens in the ring is designed to dazzle and awe, impress and enchant. Circus is magical, and it is entertainment.  It is performance. Yoga is magical too, but it is not performance. One glance at the webiverse however—a staggering flood of yoga images, instagram and facebook, nude yoga shoots and eye catching apparel advertising—and it often feels like yoga, in the west, is nothing but. There is wondrous magic in circus that enthralls us, casts a spell and lifts us from the ordinary and into the realm of the extraordinary, as yoga does. But in yoga, that journey, that transformation, happens internally. Despite what the world of media would have us believe, the real razzle dazzle of yoga is not visible. Even the flashiest yoga pose is a means to an end. And yoga in the physical realm is most powerful when understood as a healing art.

Ultimately, the people who flourish in the world of circus performance excel at what they do in the ring. In yoga, the most advanced practitioners are not necessarily the ones you see doing the showy, spectacular poses. They may be fun to watch, and often very photogenic, and it looks beautiful. The fancy poses are certainly fun to play with, in the studio. But, the “master” in the world of yoga is just as likely someone quietly doing her or his practice, day after day, year after year, with little fanfare. Someone cultivating a deep connection to themselves and to the world around them.

I love circus because I love my son Liam and am thrilled to watch him perform and feel part of a talented, supportive tribe. I love the spectacle, the magic, and the story. I love yoga because it has been a daily, sustaining part of my life for 26 years and is fundamentally a gift that just keeps giving (and one I love to share). The practice of yoga nourishes the very deepest parts of me.

Yoga. Circus. I feel them as distinct practices, art forms, and disciplines. I’m lucky to have a foot (or hand) in both of these worlds.

See you down the road. See you on the mat.


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The building itself was renovated to be energy efficient, and the room is moderately heated in cooler seasons to promote a good, healthy sweat, but not heated to an excessive or wasteful degree. There are cubbies in our large office to store your personal belongings, a spacious changing room, a comfy sofa and a water cooler (please bring a water bottle to fill, to cut down on paper cup usage). Two nice, clean bathrooms are located just down the hall. There are also cubbies in the studio itself for valuables, which students are welcome to use. We have a full lending library of yoga books, and encourage students to borrow freely. Gift certificates are available for purchase in any amount.

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Please do not wear perfume or any strong scent

People with allergies can be very sensitive to scent. Also, lots of people sweating in a closed space is less stinky than lots of people all wearing different brands of perfume or deodorant.

Wear comfortable clothing

Not so tight it binds, not so loose it gets in your way. And please do not wear clothes that “gap” and are inappropriately revealing.

Practice on an empty stomach

If possible, don’t eat at least three hours before practice. If you know that this isn’t possible for you, eat easily digested food one hour before class.

No food or outside beverages inside the studio

If necessary, bottled water is okay, but remember we are trying to generate internal heat; constant sipping cools the body. After practice, drink plenty of pure water.

Bring your own mat

Shared mats are not hygienic; you may borrow one from us if one is available, until you are able to purchase your own, but please clean it afterward with the mat wipes provided. Please understand mats may be borrowed on a first come basis….we have only a few to borrow, and do occasionally run out of them.

Keep your eyes on your own practice

The practice is richer when it happens from the inside out. It’s not about comparing yourself with the person next to you. Be present with your own experience.

Be kind and loving to yourself

Rest when you need to. Honor where you are in your practice. Use the energy of those around to inspire, not diminish, you. Remember: you are perfect just as you are now, and yoga is meant to enhance that understanding and let that perfection shine. Have fun!

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Newcomers! 3 for $30

If you are new to Upper Valley Yoga, you can purchase a 3-class pass for $30! (For our first-time guests only, package expires 15 days after purchase)

Single Class, $18

Drop in to any regular weekly class

Single Class, Student or Senior* Rate, $15

*Full time high school and college students, Seniors 60+

10-Class Pass, $145

Expires after one year

10-Class Pass, Student or Senior* Rate, $130

Expires after one year

*Full time high school and college students, Seniors 60+

5-Class Pass, $80

Expires after 6 months

5-Class Pass, Student or Senior* Rate, $70

Expires after 6 months.

*Full time high school and college students, Seniors 60+

Unlimited Yoga Passes

Monthly, Auto-Renew with credit card, $99/mo

Unlimited yoga. 6-month commitment is required; early cancellation fee of $50 applies if the auto renew is canceled before 6 months. This is the best value if you plan to attend at least 2 classes per week.

One month, unlimited, $150

Unlimited yoga with no commitment required.

One month, Student or Senior* rate, $140

Unlimited yoga with no commitment required.

*Full time high school and college students, Seniors 60+

3-Month Unlimited, $390

Unlimited yoga, 3 months

If you don’t yet have a mat, borrow one from us and please clean it afterward with the mat wipes.

We have a limited, need-based scholarship fund available for those who are struggling to pay for classes; please email or call us to inquire. We also gratefully accept donations for that fund in any amount. In addition, there are occasional work/study opportunities. If you are interested in being on the work/study list, please let us know!

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Upper Valley Yoga requires the use of your personal information for record-keeping and payment purposes only. We are committed to safeguarding your personal information, and will do so by using state-of-the-art digital technology and encryption services. We will not distribute your information to third parties.

We may use your online information to contact you about class cancellations or other information regarding Upper Valley Yoga. We require your personal information in order to provide you with an efficient and safe online class-registration and payment experience. Please feel free to contact Upper Valley Yoga with questions about this website, our privacy policy and terms of use.