Supriti’s HDY Reminiscences
Many moons ago, Kim and Zoreh asked me, a free -wheeling Yogini, to become part of High Desert Yoga. HDY had sprung into existence on Juan Tabo in the far NE Heights a few years before and had recently purchased a building on Copper NE, which they were busy remodeling into a large studio, with 2 yoga rooms and a welcoming lobby. The location seemed destined to become a spiritual vortex, with a socially active St. Michael's Church across the street and a Buddhist temple on the adjacent property.
Detouring back to about 1974, when I began sharing my new found interest in Yoga with friends in my living room in New York, I dreamt of a time when access to Yoga would actually become available to anyone at any hour of the day, dropping in to practice or sit, to meditate, or to work on community projects. Now, my dreams were being realized; as HDY organized itself as a teaching center so came the students, and those newly interested in the practice. The number of classes offered during any given day began to multiply, as did the interest in the deeper layers of the Yogic Teachings.
Early on HDY became a magnet for seasoned practitioners and advanced instruction We were visited by notable Yogis, Swamis, and would-be-Gurus and were inspired by how much there was to learn.
Supriti in urdhva mukha svanasana (upward facing dog pose)
Just as traditionally, the chela, or student, sat at the feet of the Master to learn by proximity and lessons given, we too at HDY began to constellate around our own resident Swami, who probably has an initiated name, but whom we all called Kim. Having traveled to India a previous summer to the ashram of my Guru I had taken the opportunity to visit and take classes at the Iyengar Institute. Put off by the rigorous style of instruction, I found the teachings valuable, but my appreciation for Kim’s kind and gentle teaching style grew. All the students and many of us teachers took instructions from, drew inspiration from and modeled a level of integrity because of the example of this wonderful teacher.
And Zoreh's vision for the studio, her enthusiasm for the practice, her devotional nature and dedication to transformation inspired us all. As did her democratic mantra, “Yoga is for Everyone.” Orthodoxy was downplayed and teachers of all stripes and lineages were welcomed under the umbrella of HDY. As long as I can remember, Kundalini, Sivananda, Anusara, Kripalu, Ashtanga, Ayurveda, Yin and other approaches would find a place to teach under our roof.
Classes expanded to embrace the unborn, the recently birthed with their parents, toddlers, tweens, teens in Charter schools, Spanish speakers, Women in difficult circumstances, Men's Yoga, Couples Yoga, Partner Yoga, Senior Yoga, Yoga for BackCare, Scoliosis, free Cancer Care Yoga, Yoga for the Hearing Impaired… If you could name it, we were willing to try and provide it!
This brings me to a more recent emphasis in the application of Yoga as Therapeutics. Under the guiding hand of resident PT, Patti Lentz, who helped guide other teachers into the healing aspects of asana and breathing.
Of course, all of this only could have been accomplished with a strong set of teachers, subjects and a broad practical preparation in the form of Teacher Training which came into existence shortly after HDY's inception and grew and expanded over time under the guiding hands of Kim and Zoreh and Patty and others. In the next 25 years literally hundreds of ‘deepened their practice’ with the 200 hour training or went on to explore the art of teaching with the 500 hour level Teacher Training.
In 2000, I bought my first house near the studio, and found myself spending more time at HDY, which was becoming my home away from home. So, when Zoreh and Charlie needed to move back to California for a few years, they approached me about overseeing the studio in their absence. I am eternally grateful to them for entrusting the studio to me while they were away and after their return. Those 11 years of managing the studio connected me to both students and visiting instructors in a very personal way and has deeply enriched my life and memories of HDY.
Handing the reigns over to Heather Farrell as manager, brought new colors, new level of organization and added breadth to the scope of the offerings as more and more teachers offered workshops and fun events at the studio! I only wish I had a photo of the full wall of offerings that our students had access to! Ayurvedic cooking classes, Kid's Yoga camps, workshops on specific and ailing body parts, Chanting and dancing occasions - events to enhance every aspect of our lives flourished under Heather’s wings.
Meanwhile, the vision for HDY expanded to include transforming a fallow field into a beautiful, welcoming Healing Arts Center. Excellent practitioners, like Niki Feldman, Patti Lentz, Heather Farrell and others offered top notch massage, Therapeutics and Oriental Medicine consultations. Even natural cosmetic treatments were available, treating the whole person!
Alas, Fate brought unexpected changes like Heather’s disastrous fall requiring six years of recovery, born with grit and grace. Fortunately, around this time, Nishtha closed her own Yoga studio and was given the opportunity to manage the studio, which she has done for the past few years, carrying on the great traditions of expanding the reach of the offerings to the larger community.
I also want to acknowledge the work that Avery spearheaded in challenging us to look beyond our predominant audience and reach both within and outside ourselves in welcoming every body type and gender orientation into our fold, bringing further meaning to waking up.
Well, I believe Nishtha was finally getting everything organized JUST AS COVID HIT and we were forced into CYBER SPACE.
This has been yet another mixed blessing as we right brained artist/yogi types had to navigate the technological world in new ways and bring Yoga back into your homes via ZOOM. ( I feel like I'm back in 1974, teaching in my living room.)
No overview of the blessings and benefits of HDY would be complete without mentioning the proliferation of Yoga vacations at Yoga Del Pacifico, the retreat center Zoreh and Charlie have created on beautiful Manzanillo Bay in Troncones, Mexico. HDY has deepened friendships, with adventures as far away as Macchu Picchu, Bali, Costa Rica, Thailand, and in our own magical state in Jemez, Taos, and the Gila. Troncones, however is a permanent part of the legacy of HDY and is there for all us to come home to, whenever we long to renew and refresh and revivify our souls.
It's with more gratitude in my heart than sadness that I witness yet another dharmic transition as the HDY we knew leaves us for now.
With hands at my heart, I bow the Divine Spirit in you and in me. And thank you for sharing my love and appreciation of the gift of Yoga, Sangha, Poetry forever.
Postscript: This is one blind woman's touch on the elephant that was the HDY experience— it's not definitive, it's only mine.
Supriti’s HDY Reminiscences
by Supriti Kotler