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NYC, Portland, Chicago, LA. These are a few places where my tribe resides. And because my people are spread across the country, I have found yoga studios in each of these cities to which I belong.

I will likely find a few familiar faces when I arrive. The owners I’ve known since they opened fourteen years ago, before they adopted their first baby, before they gave birth to a second. The teachers I’ve met in different cities that have gone on to open their own studios, who I have sought out after practicing together in Seattle or Silver Lake. I am often greeted with a warm embrace and news of other students whose friendship we share in common.

These yoga homes are havens in the midst of massive cities and have given me spiritual shelter during the most monumental moments of my life.

When I was in New York for Emi’s wedding, we took the tiny elevator up to the sixth floor, laid our mats down side-by-side and saluted the sun. When I was in Chicago for Heidi’s baby shower, I took the bus down Lincoln Avenue and crunched through ice-covered-snow to unbundle and sweat in the middle of winter. When I flew home to Oregon for my father’s funeral, I looked up the schedule of my favorite yoga studio in Portland and found classes to take before the visitation and after the memorial, through the flooding memories and the overflowing tears.

Yet primarily, in these studios I am mat to mat with strangers. Fellow travelers with unique lives and complex stories who are members of other tribes. Still, we’ve all come to the same place. Our mat. Our community. We’ve gathered to hold space, to share breath and movement, to connect with prana and land fully in our lives. Whether celebrating the union of marriage, the miracle of birth, or the great passage of death, we are supported by the practice of yoga. And whether on the east coast, the west, or anywhere in the world, all who practice are joined.

– Kimberlee Soo