This past month our pop-up yoga collective, The Bhav Brigade had its first birthday. In true Bhav fashion, we celebrated with donation-based all-levels yoga under the bright hot beating sun and a big fat dose of giving back. Danielle, Megan & I co-taught a class on expansion beyond the places we feel stuck and all proceeds supported our mission to raise $1,000 for ForKids, a grassroots nonprofit formed by citizens of Hampton Roads to support homeless families in the community.
And then just yesterday, things really came full circle when our teacher Logan Tymoff–the inspiration behind Bhav Brigade and the owner of our former home Satya Yoga Norfolk–taught a Sunset Yoga class on Satsang for us while in town visiting from California. Taking her class felt like coming home. It felt like Satya was here even though it wasn’t. There were so many people there who had called Satya home, but also so many people who found Bhav Brigade after it had closed and even a handful of people hadn’t previously known either.
As I’m practicing with Logan, it dawns on my just how far we’ve come.
A year ago we set out to teach yoga in the community in an affordable and accessible way and to raise money for those who need it most in the process. We hoped to reach the people that weren’t already being reached by the dozens of talented & well-established studios in the area–people who as a result weren’t finding yoga. People who, for any number of reasons, hadn’t found their way into an organized yoga class–whether it’s because of the the price of classes, transportation, class times that don’t match their schedule, feeling intimidated or any number of preconceived notions. We decided we would offer yoga in the most beautiful corners of this city, at public landmarks, local businesses, outdoor spaces, in a form that didn’t require memberships, strict arrival or departure times, specific clothing, or even money. It would just be yoga. Nothing else.
So, we advertised with chalk in areas of town with heavy foot traffic, maybe posted a Facebook announcement or two and then we just showed up. And so did twelve or so other people–some of which we knew and some of which we didn’t. And then over the next 12 months somehow it became all this–without a lot of effort, honestly. There was a lot of intention–yes, but not a lot of effort (as with arguably all the best things).
Class sizes grew from the teens to the twenties and then to the thirties and now our classes vary from dozens to well over a hundred people moving in harmony on their mats. We worked with a friend who doubles as a local business owner and graphic designer to create the most beautiful custom logo that seamlessly integrates everything that we are and then we slapped that logo on a some unbelievably soft tees with the help of yet another local business in a charitable venture. Our two initial locations, GreenLife Adventure Sports and the Pagoda Pier, expanded to the double digits and in multiple cities as more and more partnerships with the community were forged. We took over the entire first floor of Slover Library–spilling out from the foyer into every nook and cranny, came together to celebrate a life cut too short, held numerous workshops, popped up at local yoga studios, raised thousands of dollars for causes that matter, glowed in the dark at the NEON festival, Vino Vinyasa-ed at Mermaid Winery, and made yoga as accessible as the setting sun each night at our weekly sunset yoga classes.
This is what I love most–the energy, how organic it is, how it brings people together–which makes sense since we call ourselves the Bhav (holy mood, good vibes, an elevated disposition) Brigade. I think that’s because we’ve whittled away everything that’s not. There’s nothing like it.
So much of our energy rests in diversity. We have some of the most diverse classes I’ve ever seen. The neurosurgeon practices next to the dancer practices next to the stand-up comedian practices next to the business executive practices next to the high school student. First time-ers are intermixed with experienced yogis who are advanced teachers themselves. The woman in her late 60’s practices alongside the 6 year old surrounded by a whole bunch of people of all ages, ethnicities and backgrounds in between. Of course, I never have any idea who will show up or how many of them there will be. But without fail, they’re there–everyone who needs to be is there.
For these few moments every week we forget all the labels we attach to ourselves–we’re just bodies moving together with the breath on our mats and together we are one. And isn’t this just what we all need most in a time like this?
Bhav Brigade is going to change the world. I know this because it already is.