It’s a Sunday evening and my mother and I had been working all day at my new house pulling out barberry bushes to make a lovely flowerbed.  We had already gone to the big box store once that day and needed to go back bc we realized we had daylight left to get the mulch in.

In the garden center of the store, Mom and I walked all around and had separated to go find someone to help us with our mulch and to find a few things. I probably walked around the center 3 times before spotting someone from across the space wearing the distinguishing smock, about 25 yards away. I holler out an, ‘Excuse me!’ and he turns to look at me and stops. He makes no move in my direction.

Now, keep in mind, I didn’t clean myself up to go pick up mulch. I had on ratty old black yoga pants with paint smears on them, a black tank top also with paint on it, flip flops, big black sunglasses and a hot pink bandana tied around my head. On top of that I was sweaty and gross from working outside all day. ‘Approachable’ was probably not a word that would have been used to describe me. Before mom and I left the house, I had mentioned something about cleaning up a little, and her response was, (no joke), ‘why? if we walk in like this, they know we’re there to buy.’ To which I agreed and we hopped in the truck.

Back at the store, the employee I just got the attention of is just staring at me, probably trying to figure out if I’m about to mug him, and I get immediately agitated. My former unfiltered self emerged and I said to him, ‘oh yeah, make me come to you!’ Still not picking up on my agitation or afraid to make a sudden move as to not further excite the dirty and discarded member of the Culture Club, he doesn’t move. I walk to him and ask for his help. He reluctantly helps me get a cart, load about 10-15 bags of mulch on it and escapes as soon as hes able.

I roll the heavy cart from the very back of the center to the front, where the cashier sits who has been watching me this entire time from his booth, and when I’m about 15 feet from him, he comes out and asks if I need any help. My charming response was something along the lines of, ‘yeah, about 50 yards ago.’

Mom walks up about this time and instantly recognizes my attire of frustration and that my filter was firmly placed in the ‘OFF’ position. She quickly springs into action and tells me that she will finish up if I will go bring the truck around so we can load everything. While I’m in the truck I notice mom as recruited the help of my first victim to load the mulch in the truck.

When they finish, mom politely thanks him and she gets in the truck. With the windows down on the drive home I explain what had happened and she is supportive like Mom always is, saying something along the lines of, ‘yeah, that’s why I told you to go get the truck. I knew you were about to lose it.’ I respond by saying the company’s slogan, but adding (what I felt) was a clever and more accurate spin to it. She laughs and we go home and finish our project.

Now, why would I EVER admit to this story? A story that is unflattering of me and my behavior, a story that in such a small town could put a blemish on my alleged ‘yoga persona’? Why?

A few days later I was talking to a fellow teacher and friend about my story and we discussed the idea of ‘studio yogis’ similar to the idea of ‘Sunday Christians’. Wikipedia defines a Sunday Christian as a, a derisive term used to refer to someone who typically attends Christian church services on Sundays, but is presumed or witnessed not to adhere to the doctrines or rules of the religion (either actively or passively), or refuses to register as a church member. My friend and I define ‘Studio Yogis’ as, students and teachers who only practice the asana of yoga and who refuse to incorporate the ideology into their daily lives. Does this mean that everyone practices each yama and niyama perfectly? Not at all, it implies the active or passive practice of incorporation.

I constantly work through the inner conflict of ‘practice what you preach’ as I try to live with as much integrity as I can, but why would anyone ever listen to me talking about yoga theories and ideas, if how I behaved in the store that day was how I behaved all the time? Also, even with my regular practice I was concerned, ‘Where was my yoga in that hardware store???’ Did my yoga fail me? Did I fail my practice?

These questions have been a large part of my meditation and daily practice over the last couple years since this story happened. Every now-and-again I get a little insight. Sometimes through observing others, sometimes pieces of the answer works itself out. Either way, what the experience at the hardware store has given me is the opportunity to observe my practice from a broader perspective so I may consistently bring my practice into action.

Because the application of our yoga lessons occur in life and not in the studio. At the end of each day, I, as well as you, are a practioner. I make mistakes that I have to apologize for, I have arguments with my husband, I put my foot in my mouth or make a judgmental comment. Sometimes I’m crabby and really want a piece of cake, other times I might just be spent. Is that the person I want to be all the time? Not at all! My practice is an opportunity for me to make better choices while in the moment because just like the next person, I’m a constant work in progress.