13 Jul 2012

“People Do Yoga in Birmingham?”

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When I travel to other places for yoga workshops and events, people inevitably ask where I’m from. When I tell them I’m from Birmingham, AL, they often follow up with a shocked, “People do yoga in Alabama?!”

Aerial shot of yogis at Global Mala

Global Mala 2011

Why, yes. Yes, we do. And we do it well.

Yoga in Birmingham is different than many what I’ve experienced in other communities. During my trip to New York, I heard yogis from around the country talk about negativity in their communities: ego amongst teachers and students, competitiveness between teachers, lack of support for events and ideas, “I’m better than you” attitudes.

Y’all, we don’t do that here.

The yoga community in Birmingham, to me, feels like a family. When our community comes together—whether it’s for an event, a fundraiser, a studio opening, or just to party—we truly come together. There’s a feeling of unity, openness, and respect for one another. Yogis in Birmingham are just happy to be in each other’s presence.

And that family is growing. In the last few years, Birmingham’s yoga scene has exploded. New studios have opened (like family-oriented Villager Yoga in Cahaba Heights), and existing studios have expanded (like Birmingham Yoga’s new location in Forest Park). As my friend and Villager Yoga owner Annie Damsky says, just when you start to think you know all the yogis in town, a big yoga event will happen, and you’ll see fifty people you’ve never met before. Yoga is catching on fast in Birmingham, which is creating new and exciting opportunities to share yoga.

Earlier this week, over 100 yogis came together in Birmingham’s Railroad Park to do 108 moon salutations. The event, called Sunset Namaste, was hosted by MyGreenBirmingham.com to encourage and support a healthy, eco-conscious

Yogis at Sunset Namaste in Railroad Park

Sunset Namaste, July 2012

community. Like most yoga events in Birmingham, the energy was incredible. Ten of Birmingham’s most inspiring teachers kept the crowd energized through all 108 rounds. Kids played, hula-hooped, and got henna tattoos. Park patrons stopped and watched, smiling along with us as we moved and breathed.

One of the most special things about Sunset Namaste was having my Dad come watch the event. He’s not a yoga person at all. To my knowledge, he’s never set foot on a mat. But he came to watch and be a part of the scene, as well as see his daughter teach yoga. At one point, it looked like it was going to rain, but the clouds blew to the South without so much as a drop on Railroad Park. My Dad said, “It’s all this good energy! It blew the clouds away.” My Dad isn’t usually the kind of person to talk about energy, but even he was inspired by the good vibrations we were putting out.

Birmingham yogis are powerful. We’re visible. We’re inspiring. We’re the weirdos who’d rather talk about energetic alignment than football schedules. (Although some of us like that, too. Ahem, Roll Tide.) We bring our own veggie burgers to summer cookouts and trade each other for Reiki sessions. We bust out Down Dogs on our lunch breaks and plan our schedules around our favorite yoga classes. We greet each other with hugs, promote each other’s events, and know that this yoga thing is as much about sharing with others as it is about healing ourselves.

No matter where I travel, I’m always happy to come home to my community of heartfelt, down-home Southern yogis. There’s no place like home, sweet Om.

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2 Responses to ““People Do Yoga in Birmingham?””

  1. Bliss Wood says:

    Wonderful blog, Melissa!

  2. Candice says:

    This is so incredible! The last paragraph is my favorite. You are such an inspiration! I am so happy we are a part of each other’s lives! Go, girl!