The Heart of Yoga

To know Michael and Amy Caldwell is to know Yoga One and to know Yoga One is to know Michael and Amy, whether or not you’ve ever attended one of their classes. So much of who they are is expressed in the studio itself. I started out writing a class review for Michael’s mixed level flow on Fridays at noon and found that I couldn’t adequately write about his teaching style without also writing about Yoga One as a living place. But first, more about Michael!

If you subscribe to the idea that doing something well, simply and gracefully, is better than doing something difficult or impressive poorly, then you’ll understand what I mean when I say Michael teaches yoga with simple elegance. This idea has permeated the food world and it’s something San Diegans really understand. Food that comes fresh from the farm, simply and expertly prepared, is so much better than any creation from a fancy restaurant that tries to twist and coerce the ingredients into something more complicated. Michael’s yoga classes follow the same principle. He takes the simple ingredients of asana (the physical postures), pranayama (breath control), pratyahara (sense withdrawal) and mindfulness and creates a seamless class experience – challenging enough to make you break a sweat and slow enough to focus on alignment and find ease in every posture.

There is a light-heartedness in Michael’s voice that makes you feel as if you were having a conversation with a friend in their living room. He’s not afraid to make a joke or laugh at himself. Kindness emanates from him. As with many great teachers, it’s not the middle of class that you remember the best, but the end. This was especially true on Friday. At the end of class, he had us lie in savasana with our heads towards the center of the room so that, in his words, we could share with each other our highest energy. Somewhere in that skylit room I felt as though there were a small glowing orb, suspended in mid-air, the very heart of Yoga One. While we lay there in that final pose of complete surrender, the floating heart of Yoga One grew bigger, reaching out to everyone in the room.

You see, for me at least, the studio is a living creature and all the teachers that inhabit the space contribute to its life. When they teach from the most authentic part of themselves, the heart grows and fills the room, allowing the yoga to do its work unencumbered. This is perhaps the greatest challenge of any teacher: knowing when to get out of the way and let the yoga speak for itself. Michael is the kind of teacher who understands this and provides that space for his students. Yoga, in this sense, is more than just a series of physical movements, it is the entire experience of class and the wider appreciation for the inter-connectedness of body and breath, mind and spirit that stays with you long after you’ve left the studio.

Some of you will not believe me. Some of you will no doubt think that places having a heart and energy of their own is silly. But to anyone who has ever loved a place – your childhood home or the town where you met your first love – you understand that a place can have a life and character all its own. That the best kind of places take on the life force of the people that inhabit them. If you’ve never taken Michael’s class, treat yourself this Friday at noon, you won’t be disappointed!

Michael also teaches on Tuesday evenings at 6pm. Click here to check out the full schedule online.

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