I stopped using my little walking map today because finally, after 2 weeks in Firenze, I knew exactly where I was:
Riverflow Yoga, Florence Italy.
I don’t know exactly when the idea got seeded, nevertheless, there it was ,in full bloom: a Riverflow Yoga hot yoga studio in Florence Italy.
There is, after all, yet another wonderful river flowing here: the Arno. Maybe I got the idea gazing out over the Ponte Vecchio.
If I build it, they will come walking over the Ponte Vecchio to find me.
Maybe I am missing my own hot yoga practice. Maybe I am finally not missing anything at all; I am filled with certainty.
That was how I opened the first and second Riverflow Yoga studios two years ago, in Point Pleasant, Pennsylvania and Lambertville, New Jersey. Filled with certainty.
I did everything wrong; I had no business plan to open a hot yoga studio. I had no plan at all. I had been happily teaching hot yoga for over 30 years, most recently at the local hot yoga studios where I had found my warm welcome in hot yoga.
I wanted more. And I knew I could do whatever it takes.
Steve and I said goodbye to our house of 20 years, taking our 16 year old son out of his junior year in high school which I was assured by many would scar him for life, and off we moved from the sleepy suburbs to a renovated barn alongside the Delaware River in a perfectly named Point Pleasant Bucks County paradise. Our multi-million barn rental was a dream house – but what caught my imagination was the red shack just down the road.
I love all things that have not yet reached full potential.
I peered in the window and even before I envisioned it, I heard it like a bell: this is my hot yoga studio.
Now I hear the bells of the Duomo and Santissima Annuizziata ringing in same the news.
Riverflow Yoga of Firenze. My mind says this is a crazy idea. But that is why I love the notion.
You are being irrational, my mind told me two years ago on that crisp September Pennsylvania morning, you’re just intoxicated with the newness you always feel in autumn. Lingering, excited memories of starting a new grade in school, new shoes, new teachers, that’s all it is, it reminded me as I walked up to the For Rent sign in the red barn.
“You don’t want the burden or the responsibility of owning a business. Remember your father working til midnight in his carpentry shop? Who needs it? Do you really want to risk any money in a bad economy getting worse? You already made one big move – rest; lay low and find a place to practice hot yoga.”
I realized I could hear all the voices and do it anyway.
My heart took clearly advised me: don’t think, don’t think, don’t think, don’t think.
If you look, you will never leap. And then, life has no joyrides.
Everything moves fast after certainty. A few phone calls to the owner of the barn, a few meetings to lay out the space with a talented construction carpenter, a few new friends to get heated up about hot yoga and, 3 months later, Riverflow Yoga turned up the heat.
The students each brought a heartwarming story. “I have been looking for hot yoga in this community for years.!” ” I kept checking Google and hoping one day you’d be here and just today, you showed up!” ” I have envisioned a hot yoga studio here since I tried it in Baltimore and now you are walking distance from my house.” “Hot yoga saved my life and when I moved from Virginia I was heartbroken to leave my studio – and now I have you!”
They warmed me in ways I could not have imagined.
When the town threatened to close the studio for violating obsolete zoning laws that prohibited any schools in this section, over 50 hot yoga devotees emailed pleading for a pardon – to Keep Riverflow Yoga Flowing. Over 30 people packed the one-room zoning board meeting on the night they were to decide, and one person on the Board commented that he had never seen such a turnout – what exactly was I selling? he asked.
I think it may have been love. And community. And togetherness. And of course, hot yoga.
I want to bring hot yoga to Florence, Italy. Not that it needs me; just that I can make a contribution. In some small way, I imagine I can be part of the great tradition of artists and writers and humans who gave the best of themselves here in this town.
How will it come about? Who will staff the studio? Where will it be located? Will Italy embrace hot yoga? Can this economy support a new business that is not an essential? Can I find investors and financiers to believe in this hot new dream?
Don’t think, don’t think, don’t think, don’t think.
Fare di tutti.