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Posts Tagged ‘yoga’

Gratitude

You know when plan after plan falls through and you just want to stomp your feet and scream or maybe switch careers and become a professional grocery-bagger because that seems like a low stress job with flexible hours and you know that you could pull off the requisite pleated trousers with flair to spare?  You know that feeling?

I’m fighting it.  And winning, amazingly enough! 

The dance studio classes that I had sooooooo been looking forward to were supposed to start tomorrow.  I hadn’t spoken to the owner of the studio since the day I met her (weeks ago).  I hadn’t worked out any of the details or found out if anyone had even signed up.  So I emailed her.  Then I called her.  Then tonight, after a few patiently silent days, I dropped by the studio.  I live close enough to play it off like, “Oh, I was just around the corner and thought I’d stop in.”  As soon as I opened the door the office manager smiled and was all, “Oh, hiiiiiiiiii.  Not yet!  But I was just about to call you.”  Yeah, sure.

So no one has signed up yet, for either of my class times.  And I turned down another offer this morning to teach somewhere else because it would have been a conflict with my Saturday class there.  And they probably weren’t “just about” to call me or answer my email.  That would have been the polite, professional thing to do but I doubt they were going to do it.

But I’m fine.  I’m actually totally fine with it.  I told her I would keep the times open and keep it up on my website and she said they would do the same.  And part of me thinks it’s, technically, a bummer.  Part of me thinks I would be justified if I pouted about it or thrashed around in frustration instead of sleeping well tonight.  But I won’t.  I’ll be fine.  Because I know there is a reason.  I know it.  There always is.  And I am grateful for that.

This definitely calls for a little dancing Ganesha.

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In my defense

I teach Hatha yoga.  That’s it.  Just Hatha.  Somehow saying that I teach Hatha yoga is enough for me but it never manages to be enough for the other yoga teachers I meet.  I have found myself on more than my fair share of snotty sideways looks as people ask, “Yes, but what kind of Hatha?”  They ask it like a test, like I dont know there are variations within Hatha or like I’m lying about it altogether.

So what kind do I teach?

No kind, I guess.

Or maybe every kind.

My kind.  Yes, that’s it.  My very own kind.  I study everything available, I go to classes and workshops and pull things from those experiences into my classes.  I took an Anusara class once where we started in legs up the wall.  It felt very strange to me but I went ahead and tried it out on my own students.  Why not?  But I wouldn’t dream of calling myself an Anusara teacher.  And that’s just one example.  My classes are like a yoga sampler platter, a little of this, a little of that.  Does that mean I have some kind of problem with commitment?  It could.  I admit that I dont want to be tied down to one sequence or one school of thought or ideology.  You can call it dabbling and say that I’m doing a disservice by not jumping, both feet, into a defined practice.  That’s fair.

But yoga is yoga, isn’t it?  I mean, it’s all the same stuff that people have been doing for 5,000 years.  And the poses aren’t even the main part.  To me it doesn’t matter what order you do them in.  As long as your mind is in the right place (or at least you’re making a valid attempt to get it there) and you’re breathing then you’re doing yoga.  The stretches are secondary.  What’s important is not what you do in a yoga class but what you take away from it.

Of course, that’s just me.  I could be wrong.  I could be justifying my lack of a specified teaching style.  But I’m comfortable with it for now.  Someday I’m sure I will take a class, in some rarely-heard-of style, and be so moved that I devote my life to spreading that specific message.  I think that would be lovely.  But for the moment I will settle for the ability to verbalize what I’ve just said here.  Because somehow when standing opposite a stern face and a white turban, like I was yesterday, and being grilled – “Yes, but what kind of Hatha?” – I end up blubbering and stammering and sounding like a complete dolt.  I have a good reason in there I just can’t always manage to get it out.

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So I had to cancel a couple of classes before I ever taught them.  I was pretty sad to do it but the situation was really uncomfortable for me.  The space was awful (it was a stockroom…literally just a painted floor and cinder block walls and no ceiling) but the guy said he had all these people who wanted to do yoga there and was doing all this advertising so I was holding onto faith that all those bodies would absorb some of the echo and nastiness of the room.  But then it became clear that he had greatly exaggerated his advertising efforts and it wasn’t going to be worth the 30-minute drive to his shop.

I called and said that it might be best to postpone the classes until we had some guaranteed students because the transportation was a problem for me – we’re a one-car family and usually that’s plenty but when things like this come up we have to scramble to make other arrangements.  His solution: “Oh, well I will drive out and pick you up and then bring you home after class, if that’s your issue.”  Um.  No.  That is way too creepy.  And on top of some other creepy vibes I got from him during our original meeting it definitely made up my mind that cancelling was the right thing to do.

But I didnt get a chance to return his call yesterday and tell him that for sure.  This morning I woke up to this message: “Hey Bikini Yogini* this is Creepy Dude* from the Creepy Dude Emporium.*  I was calling to tell you that I have it all set up to come and pick you up for your classes so give me a call.  I’ll see you then.”

I don’t often use this type of phrase but – WTF?!?!?!  Thank GOD this guy doesn’t know where I live.  I get goosebumps just imagining his yuckiness showing up on my doorstep.  So I have to call him back now and be firm.  It doesnt come easily but I have no choice.

Lesson of the day: be careful, young yogis and yoginis.  We put ourselves way out there sometimes and we tend to be a trusting lot.  Just make sure your pepper spray isn’t past the expiration date.

*names have been changed to protect the innocent…and also the creepy.

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1.  The energy!  It’s all excitement and creativity and youth.  That kind of energy makes your cheeks rosy.

2.  This particular studio has a beautiful fountain right outside the front door.  Very soothing.

3.  Good floors.

4.  Most of those moms that you see in the waiting area spend seven hours a week just sitting around while their kids do ballet and tap and jazz and lyrical and hip hop and whatever other classes they can dream up.  It’s nice to be able to give them something to do.

5.  Motivation!  Try walking down a hallway full of teenaged ballerina types and you’ll understand.

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Yippee!

I secured a new gig today. 

Teaching at my very favorite kind of studio. 

This, I firmly believe, was meant to be.

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I don’t know if I can really say I’m from the south.  Technically I was born in the Midwest.  And then moved around quite a bit (military family) until my mother and I ended up in New England.  I think the five years we spent up there were my formative ones because I would be happier back in those mountains than anywhere else on the planet.  But then she got remarried and hauled me, kicking and screaming, down south.  Way down south.  Think Gone With The Wind, but a few states to the left.  And ever since then, even though I have felt the pull to be somewhere else, I have stayed below the Mason-Dixon line.

So I guess I’m kind of a southern girl.  I’ve certainly inherited the southern, ladylike manners.  There are some things I rarely speak of to anyone outside my family.  Sex, politics, money, my weight.  The last one is quite pressing to me right now. 

It’s not my weight, per se.  The pounds are not a problem.  It’s the arrangement of them.  I feel like I have two bodies in one.  My standing-up body is svelte and sinewy, tall and thin with just a suggestion of athletic muscularity.  But my sitting-down body is something else entirely.  When I sit down everything just kind of…relaxes.  It’s a very distressing phenomenon, one that I wish I could blame on recent childbirth.  But I cant.  It’s how I’ve always been, thin but not necessarily strong.  And, yes, I’m sure the pregnancy didn’t help it any.  But I know from experience that a little more exercise and a little more water can really make a difference.  So I’m going back to doing exercise.  Real exercise.  Cardio.  BecauseI refuse to turn my yoga into a sweaty sort of power-through-it thing.  I go to classes for that once in a while but, because that’s not what I teach, I dont want to get too hooked on it.  So I’m going to start with a video that I got while I was working off the baby pounds.

Yeah, yeah.  I know.  What can I say?  It’s fun.

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You know how you always hear about those teachers who got into yoga as a way to “leave the corporate world behind?”  Yeah.  That was me.  Pretty much.  I’m sure, if you asked, the Corporate World would say that I was the one who got left behind.  But that’s all water under the bridge now.  If I got left, I was glad enough to let it go.  I was glad to be away from people I couldn’t trust and who, in turn, refused to trust me.  I was sick of the cutthroat, type-A business person mold.

Now here’s a cat I probably shouldn’t let out of its bag.  The worst-kept secret in the yoga biz.  All that stuff?  The backstabbing and mistrust and office politics?  Still see it.  Every day.  Every.  Single.  Day. 

I thought that being a yoga teacher was all hugs and namastes and organic smoothies and mala beads.  That’s why I never had any ambition about owning my own studio.  All I wanted was to wrap my students up in the warm embrace of yoga and let someone else keep the books.

I recently left a studio that I love, love, loved.  The most beautiful studio ever.  It was my home in so many ways.  But I left.  I gave up my wonderful students and my flexible schedule.  Because one day the owner, a type-A of the worst kind, shoved a nasty contract in my face.  A non-compete.  She wanted me to sign away my freedom.  And I almost did.  Until the course of one long conversation, when we were negotiating these new terms, and she threw the yamas and niyamas in my face.  As if I were doing something questionable or immoral.  I was completely floored and hurt and insulted and all that old angry stuff came rushing back.

She was the one who scheduled me for an 8-week session, took my time and rearranged my schedule, and then cancelled on me and lied about the reason.  She said that it was simply cancelled, not gonna happen.  And then let another teacher (who, coincidentally I’m sure, had signed her contract without question) have the class.  I let it go with grace.  And then she had the nerve to say that I needed to look into the yamas and niyamas.  Why?  Because I don’t think that I should be barred from conducting business within a 10-mile radius of the studio when I only live 1 mile away?  Because I don’t want to give the studio a cut of the private lessons that I arranged with my own advertising dollars, on my own time, completely independent of them?  That makes me suspect?

So I ended up declining the contract and leaving.  On my terms, which was nice.  But that of course meant leaving my students and my income.  So I’m having some adventures now trying to go it alone.  But it’s all good.  It’s all for learning.  And I’ve rid myself not only of an unhealthy working relationship but also of a potentially harmful expectation.  The work might be doing good but a job is a job.

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