“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.”
~ Dalai Lama
On Friday, November 2nd of this year, a man entered a yoga studio in Tallahassee just before class was to begin. Assumed to be a student, he didn’t raise suspicion, but rather than unrolling a mat, and relaxing into his breath, he pulled out a handgun and began firing. In the minutes that followed, he shot six people, and pistol-whipped another before members of the class were able to fight him off. In the end, the gunman turned his weapon on himself. Three people were dead and five injured.
As far as mass shootings in our country are concerned, the tragedy at Hot Yoga Tallahassee doesn’t necessarily stand out. After all, so far this year, the United States endured more than 300 mass shootings. Gun violence has claimed more than 12,000 lives since the first of the year, and there have been at least two violent mass killings since that night in Tallahassee. The statistics are dire, yet we seldom do more than shake our head in disgust and proclaim that “something needs to be done” to stop this needless savagery. I suppose, unless we suffer, as a victim or a witness; unless our personal space or experience, or loved has been violated by such a crime, it’s easier to turn the TV off or set the newspaper aside and retreat into daily life until news of the next catastrophe pops up on our electronic device.
Shortly after the Tallahassee loss, Marco Island Yoga received a message on our Facebook page. Julia Szilagyi, is the manager and an instructor at Revival Yoga Fitness Studio, here on Marco Island, and she reached out to us because Julia has been personally touched by what happened in Tallahassee.
Several years ago, Julia was a student at Florida State University, living in Tallahassee, and suffering from the pressures and angst of college life. As her anxiety swelled, Julia’s roommate suggested they attend a yoga class together at Hot Yoga Tallahassee, and from her first experience at this small haven, where judgment is checked at the door, and humanity is practiced along with the poses, Julia experienced the connection that had been missing. She became a regular student, and her passion for yoga nurtured a career choice where she could spark that same sense of belonging and peace in others.
On Saturday, December 15th, Julia and Marco Island Yoga will be hosting a community-wide yoga class on South Beach. Local health care providers have been invited to join us. Raffle prizes have been donated, and everyone is invited to attend. Bring your family, your friends, and your yoga mat or beach towel. All donations that day will go to Hot Yoga Tallahassee and the victims of November 2nd.
Yoga, by definition, means unity. It is the practice of melding mind, body and spirit along the thread of purposeful breath. Unity is power. An accepting mind, a stronger body and a more peaceful spirit speak louder than words and influence greater than weaponry. Come to the beach on December 15th to express love and compassion for those who have suffered at the hands of hostility, and take with you the knowledge that you are a part of the unifying power of peace.
Laurie Kasperbauer, RYT 200, enjoys the spiritual and physical benefits of yoga practice and instructs both group and private classes. Laurie is also an active Florida realtor specializing in properties in Naples and Marco Island. She can be reached at Harborview Realty, 291 S. Collier Blvd., Marco Island, or by calling 712-210-3853.