A Letter to the Jala Community
from Christa Mastrangelo Joyce
Jala Yoga began much by accident. All I knew at the time was how much I loved offering yoga and how very much I wanted to teach in a way that felt authentic to me, in a community that I loved. In the beginning, I never imagined operating a yoga studio or building a community filled with love and grace, friendship, and support—yet, together, that is what happened.
Many of you have witnessed the evolution of Jala through various incarnations and stages—the tiny coffee table check-in area in the little upstairs hallway of Mellow with paper rosters and punch card days; the grand building of a third location in Winchester days; the transition to an online yoga studio in the days when Covid slowed us all down. There have been births and deaths throughout these 13 years. During it all, I have experienced the losses with grief and a sense of hope in some new perspective. All the while, my desire to serve the community, to share a practice of deep connection, to foster love and attentive awareness, has continued to grow and evolve.
So where am I now? The past 2 years, particularly the last 9 months, have been some of the hardest I’ve ever known. I imagine as many small business owners are, I am seeing the hardship of running a business through Covid—the challenge of how to keep people safe, how to keep people happy, how to generate enough revenue, how to make things affordable for others who are struggling, how to create awareness and boundaries that reflect my principles. Each time I began to reopen, another obstacle presented itself. For the past 9 months those obstacles have been largely personal—health challenges, waves of grief after unexpected deaths, and my teenage children’s growing physical and mental health needs.
I have come to a place of acknowledging just how limited my energy is, how precious and limited my time with my children is and how huge their current mental health needs are, and how vastly different the needs of the community at large feel now. Perhaps this is the midlife perspective of a woman who is not physically strong in the way I was even a year ago. But I sense there is another way I am being called to serve, to offer love and connection, to bring people home to their body and their essential goodness.
So it is that I come finally to the need to close Jala Yoga.
We’ll remain open until October 10th for classes, retail purchases, and connection together.
It’s cliché to say I am imagining this time for myself—and perhaps many of you—as a caterpillar in the cocoon time in which I’m becoming the soupy mess that appears to be complete destruction. Yet the cliché applies. I’m hanging out in the soupy mess, hoping for some new color and wings on the other side of it all.
In this moment, I am feeling deep grief that reminds me I am preparing for the loss and missing of something I love dearly. Love and grief truly are like the ocean and the sky—where one ends and the other begins becomes impossible to distinguish gazing over the horizon of each. I am swimming in ocean and sky—deep love, deep grief.
Yet, I’ve been here before. Inside the swimming I remember the cycle. Birth will be again. I don’t quite know yet when or how. But I know it will be. It ever is.
It’s taken me 13 years to get to this place together with you—this place in which we know, trust, and love one another. Gratitude is a small word to express the immense good fortune I’ve had that our paths have crossed and that I’ve shared this journey with you.
I’ll close, for now, with a story I read recently in the book Radical Compassion by Tara Brach: “The longtime prisoner and meditator Jarvis Jay Masters was in the exercise yard at San Quentin when a seagull landed in a puddle, and he saw a large young inmate pick up a stone to throw at it. The unspoken rule in the yard was to mind your own business—the smallest incident could turn violent—but Jarvis immediately raised his arm to stop him. Outraged, the young man shouted, ‘What you doing?” Everybody watching expected a fight. But Jarvis spontaneously responded, ‘That bird has my wings.’ The younger man muttered and shook his head, but somehow the tension dissipated. And for days afterward, inmates came up to Jarvis to ask, ‘What did you mean by that, Jarvis?’ Something in us knows what Jarvis Masters meant. Whenever we pay close attention to another life, whether it’s a person, our dog, a favorite plant, or a bird, this being begins to feel like part of us; it matters to us. We share the same wings, the same longing to live freely and fully.”
My friends, you are a part of me; you matter deeply to me. We share the same wings in this journey of life. I ask only from you in this transition that you take time to sit with this information for at least 24 hours before reaching out to me. Be sure to read the Closing FAQs below and then perhaps jot down feelings, questions, advice — but then let them rest and review them before sharing. I did not come to this decision easily or in haste and I ask that you kindly respond in same. ~Christa Mastrangelo Joyce