The image above is a close-up of a gorgeous card that I received from my Teacher Training mentees this past weekend. Inside of the card it says, "Your work is to discover your world and then with all your heart give yourself to it." Isn't that beautiful? It perfectly captures what I've been trying to say all along--that our life's work is not to sit at a computer* and dream about what we could be doing, but to actually get out there and do it (not that "doing it" won't also involve a lot of sitting in front of a computer...). But doesn't that sound nice? So, today, as promised, I want to share a follow-up to yesterday's post on Career & Life Makeovers, this time focusing on some of the things that I've learned from my experiences. Obviously, everyone's situation is different and everyone's personality is different, so not all of these tips may apply to your situation or life, but by sharing the things that have been helpful to me, I hope to save you at least a little bit of the growing pains that I've gone through...10 Tips for Making a BIG Career/Life Transition1. Go part-time first: One of the biggest pieces of advice that I give everyone who is thinking of quitting his or her full-time job to pursue a personal passion is this--try to go part-time first. Why? Because it's way scarier to quit everything and suddenly have to rely fully on your own devices; Often, this leaves people looking at an entirely open day or week and feeling completely lost when having to manage all of that time. You know the saying, "If you want something done, give it to a busy person"? Same applies here, in a way. If you have a good relationship with your current job, you may be able to go part-time there--you never know until you ask. You may be surprised by what sort of answer you get, and might even find a way to reduce your hours enough to devote way more time and energy to your "goal job " while working, so that you can then nurture it until you're ready to quit. If your current job won't let you go part-time, look for a new part-time job. Even if it's just working a couple of hours per week at the front desk of a yoga studio or in a coffee shop, this is a great way to supplement your income and take some pressure off of yourself and your "goal job" while you make the transition.2. Jump right in--start your new biz before quitting your old biz: If you dream of being a blogger, or photographer, or yoga teacher, don't quit your current job until you've started your new one and know you love it and/or feel that you can make it in that field. As I mentioned yesterday, this may cause you to experience a couple of crazy months, but you'll eventually reach a breaking point and by then it will be a lot less scary to say buh-bye to the day job. Trust me on this. Don't put it off until someday, start it NOW and then figure out the logistics as you get further along ;)3. Create a rule of thumb for learning how to say "yes" and "no:"
This is different for everyone, but I think it's important to set up boundaries for yourself when first deciding to do it all (work and start your "new" job or biz on the side). I actually have two rules that I've tried to live by when making scheduling/life decisions on my own (easier said than done, but possible):
- Rule #1: If an activity, job, or class zaps more energy than it gives me (meaning I leave feeling run-down instead of inspired), I give it up. This isn't always possible right away, but over time, it can be done. A great example of this is teaching yoga classes. When I first started teaching, I taught all over town--in a number of gyms, corporate environments, private settings, and studios. Some classes I looked forward to, I left feeling uplifted, excited, like I was making a difference. Some classes (or commutes) I dreaded, I hoped they'd be canceled so I'd have a little more time in my life, I felt like I was having to "wind myself up" to teach them (you know that commercial?). Over time, I was able to weed out the classes that took more than they gave, and make more time for the classes that gave me energy and inspiration.
4. Find a mentor:
- Rule #2: If one activity or job starts to inhibit my ability to create, I have to scale back or give it up. This one is very simple in theory, but a little more difficult in practice (but so important!!).
It really, really helps to have someone (or a couple of people) to bounce your ideas off of. This can be a virtual mentor or a real-life mentor, but it should be someone who has experience in the industry that you're pursuing, or someone who has made a similar life change. Find one ASAP and connect with them!5. If you decide to do it, really do it:
Often people get excited about something new, and then let it fizzle out when things get busy. I credit almost every change that I've been able to make to really committing to the change and giving myself to the endeavor 100%. For instance, when I decided I was going to teach yoga full-time, I started teaching as much as possible, anywhere and everywhere. I wasn't picky at first, and this allowed me to gain a wide variety of experiences right away, which ultimately, made me a better teacher and allowed me to be picky later on. Similarly, when I started a blog, I decided that if I was going to do it, I needed to post almost every day. I committed, and I did this, and that allowed the blog to grow to a point where I could skip a day or two (the weekends), and not lose all my readers. You have to commit at the beginning in order to make space later on. 6. Understand that most likely, you will make less money than you did before: No one teaches yoga, sells crafts on Etsy, blogs, or paints because it's a lucrative line of work. Teaching yoga only makes a very select number of people rich (and many of them, in turn, donate that money to those who need it more!), and the same goes for many creative endeavors and small businesses. In order to pursue your dreams, you'll most likely have to take a pay cut (especially at the beginning), and that's just a part of it. If you're quitting for the right reasons, this won't matter to you at all in the long run--but make sure you're ready to give up your daily Starbucks habit or your seasonal shopping sprees in order to pursue your dreams. It can definitely be difficult at first.7. Do a little svadhyaya (self-study):
One of my life mantras is "Wherever you go, there you are" (Jon Kabat-Zinn). If you don't deal with some of your personal issues now, they'll follow you wherever you go. For instance, I'm an overcommitter. I did this in my old life, and I do it (did it) even more in my new one--especially now that I rely on myself for my income. Until I learn how to stop overcommitting, this issue won't be resolved, no matter what passion I'm pursuing. Start to deal with your old patterns now, so that they don't continue to inhibit you when you work for yourself. I've learned this the hard way ;)8. Find a support system or a community:
Get your people involved in your transition. Tell your family, closest friends, partner, and/or colleagues what you're doing. See a therapist or life coach. Join a group of like-minded people. Make sure you have some sort of team who is supporting you so that when you feel like you're all alone out there, you'll have someone to reach out to and someone to encourage you. This is super
important. 9. Make sure you sleep:
You probably know how I feel about sleep by now, but if you don't, know this: I LOVE it. You cannot be energized, organized, excited, inspired, or creative when you are sleep deprived, and you definitely can't pursue your dreams when you're sleep walking through life. Get 8 hours of sleep per night, no matter what. Make it happen. 10. Set attainable goals:
I know this sounds like every other piece of advice you've ever been given, but I promise, it's slightly different. I think that many times when people decide to start something on their own, they expect immediate results. When it comes to making big life changes, patience is everything. Set goals for yourself so that you have something to work towards, and so that you can keep your expectations in check. For instance, if you decide to pursue teaching yoga full-time, set a goal for the number of classes that you need to be teaching per week to quit your job. Or set a goal for the number of classes per week that you need to be teaching to make a decent salary. Give yourself at least 3-4 months to get there, knowing that you'll work as hard as you can in those few months. Once you reach your deadline, check in and re-evaluate. Know what you're working towards but don't expect it to happen right away.
Have you gone through a similar life transition? If so, do you have any advice to add? If so, please share!
I hope this is helpful. You can do it!
*PS. All of this talk about quitting and pursuing your dreams is in NO WAY a criticism of anyone who doesn't have urges to do this or who likes their day job. If you're happy where you are, congrats! Yay! You're already living a life that feels meaningful and fulfilling, and that's what we're all trying to do here :) This advice is in response to the many requests that I've gotten for more info about "taking the leap," as lots of my readers seem to have an urge to do so. xoxo
Recently, I've had a lot of readers reach out to me wanting to know more about my story--how I went from being a normal office worker to being "self-employed" through yoga, art, and blogging--or, as one reader put it, "how you made the transition from working in NYC to teaching yoga, managing and writing a blog, painting, and building a life you love (at least that is how it looks from this side of the screen!)." As I was thinking about writing this post, I looked back at how long it had been since I made this transition, and saw that yesterday marked exactly 3 years since I taught my first real yoga class (!). This realization confirmed the fact that today is the perfect day to tell my story, in honor of my 3 year anniversary and in honor of all of you who are thinking about taking a similar plunge. Since I have a lot to say around this subject, this will be a two-part post. I'll share my story today, and my advice for anyone wanting to make a similar transition tomorrow. Stay tuned!My Life Transition Story
In 2009, Ben and I moved to DC. I had been working at a small startup marketing company in NYC for the past 2 years or so, and although I enjoyed my time working there, I knew that I wanted to do more. I had urges to make a difference, interact with people, get up and move away from the computer screen, do something of true value. Because of these urges, I decided that I would try a different type of job in a different industry when moving to DC, and that I would also pursue a yoga teacher training once we had settled.
So, when we moved, I took a social work-type position with a DC Government Contractor that worked with a DC Court Program. My job was to help fathers who had been incarcerated get jobs, pay their child support, and learn how to be a part of their children's lives. I thought this would be the answer--that working with people and helping them get back on their feet would be fulfilling enough to make office life worth it--but again, although I enjoyed many aspects of the work, I was spending my days in front of a computer, in an office with no windows, counting down the minutes until I could leave and go practice yoga.
My eyesight was fading from staring at a screen all day (literally, my eye doctor told me that the computer was the cause of my sudden need for glasses!), my back was sore all the time, and no matter what position I sat in at my desk, my hips would ache. I was constantly stressed, bored, or uninspired, and I found myself yearning more than ever to find a way to make a change in my life.
Meanwhile, I had also enrolled in Teacher Training at Tranquil Space
shortly after moving (I actually visited Tranquil Space 2 days after moving!) and immediately knew that I had
to teach upon graduating. My weekends in TT were life-changing and I realized that I simply must find a way to begin spending my days doing more that inspired me and less that didn't. My passion for teaching and for yoga made it easy to see how little passion I had had for my various day jobs over the years, so I decided that I would suck it up and rip off the band-aid.
But first, I did it all at once. For 3 months, I worked full-time, taught yoga on the weekends and in the evenings, blogged in the morning before work, and painted when I wasn't teaching (in my "free-time"). I still remember waking up early in our studio apartment and blogging in the dark before work, while Ben slept about 15 feet away. I would then head to work, practicing my yoga sequences on the metro, teach or take class right after work, spend my evenings planning for the next day, and when I lay down in bed at night, I would sleep like a rock. But at the time, I knew that I had to start my new life while continuing my old one, so that the eventual transition would be less abrupt and less scary.
Because I had been told by many people that teaching yoga full-time is extremely hard, I decided to look for a part-time job to supplement my teaching income once I quit working. I found one, and believe it or not, it was a "5-10 hour position" helping to manage the new Tranquil Space location. I figured this would be perfect, put in my two weeks, and immediately took on as many yoga classes as possible, as well.
At first, my life was insane. I was teaching around 18-20 yoga classes per week at my high point (to put this in perspective, I now teach about 9 per week and am close to my max!) , and as you may have seen firsthand if you're a part of the Tranquil Space community, my "5-10 hour per week" job quickly turned into a 15-20 hour per week job, and then to a 20-30 hour per week job as the studio grew. Similarly, as the studio expanded, I grew with it, going from a "Tranquility Concierge," to Studio Manager, to Studio Director, to Studio Director & Teacher Director. As my role at Tranquil Space grew, I adjusted my teaching schedule to make my life more manageable, but it was (and continues to be) a constant struggle to stay balanced.
While I pursued teaching and studio management, both of which I have ADORED, I also made sure to block out time for my creative endeavors, namely blogging and painting. Thus, Thursdays are my painting days, and I blog every morning, M-F, right upon waking (after stretching and making a cup of tea, of course). I've worked hard over the past 3 years to build a life in which daily creativity, working with people, practicing yoga, and teaching have become non-negotiables, and I feel so grateful, lucky, and honored to have built this life, along with the support of the amazing people around me (my family, friends, husband, yoga community, and everyone I work with at the studio).
But, I want you to know that within this framework, I've still struggled with my same old issues (as you've probably seen if you're a regular reader). Just because I now love *almost* everything that I do on a daily basis, doesn't mean that I don't still get stressed out, or freak out because I have too much to do, or get overwhelmed when I have big deadlines or too many things scheduled in one day. That's always a part of life, but my new life has helped me to keep everything in perspective and has given me a chance to really work on making changes in order to be happier and healthier.
One of the biggest parts of this process is having to constantly re-evaluate my schedule and step away from things I love. I've given up dozens of classes and private clients--many of whom I was very attached to--because I knew that I needed more unscheduled time. I've said no to new opportunities and left many emails unanswered (sigh), in order to create more space and downtime, and again, it's a constant
Thus, this is a good chance to announce another big change in my life. I've recently re-evaluated my schedule (yet again) and decided that after 2.5 years, I'm going to give up my role as Studio Director at Tranquil Space Arlington. I've decided that I can no longer give the studio the time, energy, and around-the-clock management attention that it needs, and that someone else (who we've already hired internally and who is fabulous!) will be able to give it much more heart than I can at this time. Plus, this chance to step back will allow me more time and energy to focus on my art, my teaching, my blogging & writing, the Teacher Director role (which I'll be keeping!), and my other creative endeavors. I'm ready and am very excited for this extra space in my life.
Although it's heart-breaking to give up this role that has defined me, guided me, and ultimately, been my life (and baby!) over the past few years, I am working to practice what I preach here on the blog. Yet again, I have realized that for my own sanity and creative energy, I have to say goodbye to something that I enjoy. These are the tough decisions that I always talk about, but these are also the kind of decisions that we have to make in order to ultimately realize our dreams. My Director role will officially end at the end of May, so come June, get ready for some fun new projects and additions to the blog.
Phew! For those who have asked about my story, that's part of it, but know that it is still unfolding. It's a work in progress, and I'm okay with that. In order to "live a life that you love" I think that you need to constantly redefine yourself, make changes, re-evaluate your schedule, your goals, your energy, and continue to grow [every day!].
If you're playing with the idea of making a similar transition in your own life, check back in tomorrow, as I'll be posting some helpful tips from what I've learned over the past few years of change. Thanks for being a part of my journey! I'm honored to be a part of yours :)
PS. I think this is the longest blog post I've ever written!? If you made it to the end, thanks for sticking with me ;) xoxo
As you all probably know by now, music is a BIG part of yoga for me. Yes, this is a somewhat "controversial" topic in the yoga world, and is a totally personal preference, but for me, music is a wonderful part of both teaching and taking class (to read more about this topic, check out this post
). So, for those who feel the same way, I wanted to delve a little deeper into the playlist-making topic today.
Last week, when working with a group of Teacher Training students, one of the students asked, "How do you make a class playlist? Where do you find the music? How do you put it all together?"
and it got me thinking. Similarly, I recently got an email from a reader in Portugal (yay!) who asked something similar--she explained that she'd never taken a class with music, and wasn't sure how it would work--"There are no such yoga classes where I live, so I never understood if you link the movements with the music or the music is just for the background."
Since I assume that these two teachers aren't alone in their questioning, I hope to help out by answering these inquiries for my fellow yogis. Obviously, I'm no DJ or music professional, but I do like to think that in my almost
3 years of teaching (wow!?), during which I've made a new playlist on at least
a monthly basis, I've learned a thing or two...
How to Create a Yoga Class Playlist
1. Before tackling a playlist, you need a clear picture of your class structure, as the way that you put together your playlist should have a lot to do with your class plan. Here's an example of a class plan (this is a very rough outline of the structure that I use for a 1 hr class):
- 0-5 minutes: Centering
- 5-15 minutes: Warm-up and step-backs
- 15-20 minutes: Surya A
- 20-23/25 minutes: Surya B variations
- 25-40 minutes: Standing flow + balancing poses
- 40-45 minutes: Varies depending on class, usually arm balance or other peak pose + pigeon
- 45-50 minutes: Seated poses and/or backbends
- 50-55 minutes: Backbends and/or inversions, finishing poses
- 55-60 minutes: Savasana + closing
Once you have a class plan (with a general idea of the timing), you can begin to build your playlist around that class plan. What do I mean by this? Think about what type of energy/mood/music you want during each class segment, and try to find songs that create that energy. For instance:
- For centering, I usually go for a very calming song, preferably without words (so that it doesn't distract people). Instrumentals or yoga music with words in sanskrit can be great for this.
- For Surya A & Surya B, the part of class where we're working to build heat, I almost always opt for really energetic music--something faster, or with a good, strong beat. I find that this helps people get lost in the flow and stay invigorated.
- After Surya A & B, I tend to keep things pretty upbeat for a while, so that people stay energized throughout the standing flow.
- As class begins to wind down (think seated poses on), I like to begin to slow things back down with softer, more relaxing music.
- For savasana, I always search for a song that is helps people completely let go. This can be a song with or without words, but if it has words, you want to be sure they aren't too distracting or inappropriate for savasana. It's best if you just use one song for all of savasana, as it helps people to relax.
How do you find good songs/appropriate music? This is the part that takes some time. If you're new to making class playlists, this can be a little more time-consuming, but over time, I promise it gets easier. Here are some tips on how to find good music:
- Start paying attention to the music around you. If you're in another teacher's class and hear a song that moves you, ask them what it was after class and write it down.
- Listen to Pandora (or Spotify) and choose stations or playlists based on artists that you like. When you hear a song that you think would be great for class, write it down.
- Think outside the box: think about artists that you like and listen to their albums with an ear for yoga. Are any of their songs appropriate for class?
- Get on iTunes and search artists that you've heard in class before. If you're stuck, start with common "yoga" music: MC Yogi, Bhagavan Das, Krishna Das, Wah!, Deva Premal, Donna de Lory, Wade Imre Morrissette, etc. Listen to snippets of their songs and download the ones that speak to you.
- Check out other teacher's playlists! Lots of yoga teachers post them on their blogs/websites/facebook pages, etc., so this is a great way to learn about fun music.
- Download Shazam. When you hear a song you like in a movie, a show, a coffee shop, the car, shazam it and find out what it is. Write it down and put it on your next playlist.
- *Personal method: I have a "note" in my phone where I keep a running list of all songs I've come across that I want to use in my next playlist. By the time I sit down to make the playlist, I'm usually halfway done. It's been very helpful to do it this way and has made the process of actually making a list a lot less daunting.
. Over time, I've learned to avoid certain types of music, because you want the music to add to the class, not distract or take away from it. Here are some tips (this is a personal preference, of course, but this is my opinion):
- Avoid Top 40 songs. They're too recognizable and when people start singing along in their heads or thinking about the band/group/singer/pop culture, it can take them out of the practice.
- Avoid overly romantic songs or songs that are obviously about a broken heart, being cheated on, finding "the one," etc. Obviously, this is hard, since SO much music is about romantic love, but if you can, try to find songs that don't spell it out in a way that will bring up romantic emotions for students. Sometimes this can't be helped, as emotions always come up in yoga and it's often not because of the music, but if you play a song about being cheated on and someone in class has been cheated on, it could be pretty upsetting for that student.
- Avoid songs with curse words, explicit language, lines about death or killing someone, drugs, sex, etc. Try to keep things a little more uplifting and inspiring for your students.
- Include a mix of genres, male/female singers, world music, instrumentals, and Eastern/yoga music. Again, this is a personal preference, but it's really refreshing to mix it up and makes the music just as eclectic and diverse as your students.
Once you've made a playlist, listen to it the entire way through. If you hear anything that sounds jarring/not quite right, remove the song and replace it with another. Then, once you test it out in class, feel free to make a few more tweaks if it still isn't right. Remember, the music shouldn't be distracting to you as a teacher, either!
Does this help? I hope so. If you need more music ideas or examples of playlists, you can check out my playlists page
and the following resources/posts:
Now get to making those playlists! And as always, if you come across a great new artist that you think would be perfect for yoga, please send them my way ;)
PS. Happy April!!!
Yesterday, I spent the afternoon teaching Teacher Training at Tranquil Space
. As always, it was a fabulous
experience and I left feeling exhilarated, exhausted and inspired. To me, there's nothing like a group of students who are hungry for more--who have chosen to study what they're studying because they truly
love it-- and who have so much knowledge, experience, and wisdom to share with one another.
Working with this group of women yesterday (it was all
women, which was also very powerful!) got me thinking about a question that I recently received from a reader. So today, I thought we would chat a bit about yoga teacher training, and specifically, some pointers for figuring out whether or not you're ready to dive in.
Here's the question I received via email a few weeks ago: I had a question about the decision to start yoga teacher training. I have been thinking about doing it for probably five years now, but have yet to take the plunge. I practice regularly, but due to time (and money) constraints I mostly practice at home. I know that teacher training would be a great thing for me, but I am having trouble figuring out if I am advanced enough for it...I wanted to see if you had any words of wisdom on knowing when it is right.
What a wonderful question, right!? How do
you know when the time is right to enroll in a teacher training (TT) program? Although I think the answer definitely is a very individualized one, here are some things that I've learned about TT, both from working with teachers and being a teacher over the past couple of years...Practice "level:"
Although I've already shared my thoughts on what it means to be an "Advanced" Yogi
, and this label, "advanced," is definitely controversial in the yoga world, I do think that in order to enroll in teacher training you should have some level of comfort with the asanas, or feel comfortable in an intermediate or Level 2 class. This doesn't mean that you need to know how to do every arm balance, inversion, or "advanced pose," as I definitely didn't know these things when I did TT (and still cannot do many, many advanced poses and transitions!), but you should feel comfortable playing with some of the more advanced asanas, or at least pushing your edge and trying them. Desire to learn:
More important than an "advanced" practice, in my mind, is the true hunger and desire to learn more about yoga. You have to want to try, to push, to learn, to experiment, to study, to devote your time and energy to practicing and teaching yoga. I think this makes one much better prepared to jump into such an intensive study of the subject, and eventually, makes one a much better teacher. When I enrolled in TT I couldn't do a headstand, most arm balances, or many of the more advanced inversions, but I had a hunger to learn everything, and that desire led to my learning how to teach and eventually do these poses over time (many of which I learned how to do during TT!). But to be clear, this desire to learn should be broader than just the asanas--it should also include other aspects of the practice, such as pranayama (breathwork), meditation, anatomy, philosophy, etc. Life situation:
If you know that you want to do TT and have the time/finances/space in your life to do it now, do it NOW. I know lots of people who had been wanting to do TT for years, but kept putting it off because of one thing or another; then, when they finally do it, it's life changing and they wish they'd done it years ago. If it's something that you know you want to do eventually, but you can do it now, just do it, so that you don't end up feeling like you've wasted many years not following your dreams. I know this sounds cheesy, but if your life opens up a bit and you have space--just enough space to take the plunge and make it work--then do it. Studio/training program choice:
Most importantly, you should find a program that is the perfect fit for you. If you have a studio or a teacher who teaches the way that you want to teach, try to take TT with them or at that studio. Every studio is different, every teacher is different, and every training program is different, so I strongly suggest finding out which teachers teach the bulk of the training that you're planning on taking, and then, if you haven't already, take their classes to be sure that they teach in a style that resonates with you. I know quite a few people who did their training somewhere without doing a lot of research into the program, and later, had to either take TT over again or augment their training with many other trainings in order to hone the skills needed to teach in the style in which they wanted to teach. Best to figure this out before
you fork over a large sum of money and an even larger chunk of your life. Test the waters:
If you're not 100% sure that teaching yoga is right for you, but really want to try it, enroll in a smaller TT first. This may mean doing a Level 1 training first (for example, at Tranquil Space we have a 33-hour Level 1 that is a pre-req for our Level 2), or a smaller training, like a Prenatal or Karma Kids training, to dip your toe in the water and see if you like teaching. Some people who think they'll love it take a Level 1 first, only to realize that teaching takes the enjoyment out of yoga for them. Doing a smaller training first allows you to check out the experience before making the huge commitment.
Overall, I guess what I'm saying is TT = a big decision. But also, TT = amazing.
As you know, it changed the entire course of my life
and I am so thankful and happy that I did it. I know this isn't the case for everyone, but I think that if you have a true urge to do it and it doesn't go away, you should do it as soon as you have the space, energy, and schedule for it.
I hope this is helpful! Makes me want to look into what training I'm going to do next... ;)
Hello from the ski slopes! Since I'm off frolicking around in the snow today (I may be enjoying my first skiing lesson as you read this!?), I thought I'd just share a fun video that I recently helped create, breaking down Tranquil Space's March "Asana of the Month,"
Warrior 3/Virabhadrasana III.
I really love this pose (as I say, rather awkwardly, in the video), because there is just SO much going on in it. Even if it looks somewhat simple or straightforward at first--it's not. You can learn more about the alignment basics of this pose in the following video; just try to ignore my nervous eye-rolling and tippy-toe fidgeting... ;)
Happy balancing! I hope you enjoy working on this pose as much as I do.
I promise I'll post some images from my trip soon...but let me just tell you, it is AMAZING here and I am full of awe, gratitude, and excitement. More coming very soon! For now, I'm just trying to live in the present and soak up every moment :)
Yoga makes me feel __________________.
How would you finish this sentence? What does your practice give you? If you had to pick one word that describes how you feel when practicing, or after practicing, what would it be?
What I love so much about the practice of yoga is that it teaches each of us something completely different--it makes each of us feel something completely different--yet it also connects us all.
So think about it. Maybe your sentence starts in another way. Maybe it starts with a different activity or practice:
Meditation makes me feel ___________.
Creating makes me feel ___________.
Dancing makes me feel _____________.
Whatever it is that feeds your soul...why do you do it?
What does it feel like?
If you'd like to share (And please do! I'd love to hear why you practice!), post your sentence or the word that finishes your sentence to comments.
Here's what I came up with (I have two!):
Yoga makes me feel EXPANSIVE.
Yoga makes me feel like the picture above.
Feeling so thankful for this powerful practice and the many gifts it has brought into my life :)
Image via newyorkyoga.com
Last week in one of my classes, while demonstrating a difficult pose and doing it with the class, I tried to come back into the pose while talking about it, and I failed. My muscles were tired, I didn't have the correct alignment, and I wasn't focused, so I tried to push up into it, and nothing happened. I laughed, said "lets try that again," and proceeded to do it correctly in order to try and show the class what I was talking about. I was completely fine with messing up in front of a room full of people (I've done it many times before and will do it many times again), but right after I messed up, one of the students close to me in the front row said, "Wow! I'm glad to see that you get tired too!," and this comment really stuck with me.
"Are you kidding?" I thought!? Um, yes, obviously I get tired, too. I get really tired. I often get so tired that I have to stop functioning and go to bed immediately. And yes, my muscles give out in class all the time--I'm not susceptible to muscle failure just because I'm a teacher--you know that, right?
I've heard many stories from my fellow teachers about falling in front of their classes (I've done it), tripping on a student, saying something crazy without even realizing it, or completely forgetting sequences half-way through the class and having to ask the students what to do next. It's not always easy teaching yoga, and as teachers, we're bound to make lots of mistakes.
Similarly, in my Yoga & Body Image workshop last weekend
, someone said that it really helps them with their body image issues and negative self-talk when a teacher tells the class that they can't do a certain pose, or that they're working on it, but don't have it yet, as it makes the student feel less judgmental towards themselves if they realize that the teacher can't do certain poses, either. Therefore, I think that "messing up" or failing to do a pose correctly every once in a while would have the same effect.
Image via eatpraynamaste.com
So, here's the kicker: teachers of any kind--and also coaches, therapists, group leaders, successful managers, and "role models"--they're just like you. We're all human, we all make mistakes, and none of us have superhuman powers. It can be really helpful for us to remember this, as we all have people in our lives who we put on a pedestal or can't see clearly, because we come to them looking for knowledge and guidance and they are often able to give it to us. I have my own teachers that I idealize (or idolize?) and in the past, have projected my own ideas of perfection onto them, while knowing that really, it's much healthier for me, and much more realistic for them, if I can see them as normal, flawed (albiet wonderful) human beings.
One of the things that we often talk about in Teacher Trainings is how many times, students will label their teachers in their minds--sometimes without even realizing it. Just as people do with other types of teachers in their lives, it's easy to think that the person who is leading you has all the answers, or never messes up, or, in the case of yoga, can do every pose perfectly. But really, when you think about it, we all know that's not true.
So, I have two messages that I want to leave you with today:
1. For my fellow teachers out there, it's okay to share your "flaws," your inabilities, and your own struggles with your classes. As long as you aren't forgetting about the flow or energy of the class and/or doing it all the time (which could become distracting!), it's wonderfully humanizing and freeing to tell your students that you can't do something. In fact, I think you should, as it often gives people perspective and allows them to lighten up on themselves (i.e., "If the teacher can't do it, it's okay that I'm not there yet!").
2. For my fellow students, remember that your teachers are just like you! They mess up, they get tired, they fall on their faces, they hurt people's feelings accidentally, they get angry, upset, and moody, and they, too, fall apart every once in a while. Just like you, they're trying their best--but if you put them on a pedestal, you'll eventually have to watch them come down off of that pedestal, and that can often be harder than just seeing them as they are.
Are you with me? I hope this makes sense and allows you to ease up the pressure on yourself this week. Sometimes we all need a little reminder that we're not striving for perfection (as it's unttainable!)--we're all just doing the best we can with every given moment. So lighten up!!!
Just in case you missed it, I have to share my favorite clip of the week today. This clip shows 91-year-old Mabes Morrill teaching yoga to Kathie Lee and Hoda on the "TODAY" show
, and it's totally fabulous.
Why? Here's what I think is so great about this segment, and about Mabes in general:
-She has been teaching yoga FOR FREE for 40 years (how amazing is that!?).
-She is ailment free at 91. I mean, look at her!?! How can she possibly
be 91-years old!?
-She's wearing an adorable all pink outfit.
-She teaches a pose called "the ax." Never heard of it, but it's great! Sound-effects and all ;)
-She calls hastasana "the elegant stretch."
-She says "butt" when walking people into downdog (it's okay to say "butt" in yoga when you're 91).
-Kathie Lee and Hoda do yoga in dresses...and at first, aren't even sure if they should take off their heels.
-Mabes is SUPER excited to do do a shoulderstand on national TV--she can hardly contain herself and moves crazy quickly to get into it before the commercial break! Too sweet.
-Look at her skin! She's 91! That's why I'm glad I've started my new skincare regimen and practice yoga daily ;)
Check out the clip, in all it's glory, below:
Is anyone else loving the amazing number of nonagenarian yoga teachers who have been coming out of the woodwork lately? It's really exciting that there are so many 90+ ladies still practicing and teaching out there, and I believe it truly shows how wonderfully healing yoga can be.
I hope this is me someday! ;)
PS. For more inspiration, check out my fave pics of "the yoga granny," Bette Calman, working it here
And people wonder why so many women hate their bodies!?!? Imagie via persephonemagazine.com
As of last night, I have officially completed Tranquil Space's Advanced Teacher Training
(my 500-hour certification). Can you hardly believe it!?
I can't! It's been a year in the making and it feels surreal to actually be done. As you know, I finished the coursework/weekend time commitments back in July
, but yesterday afternoon I finally
presented my final thesis paper & workshop on "Yoga & Body Image," and now I'm finished. Phew.
If you've been reading Starr Struck
for a bit, you've probably seen some of the various posts about the work that has gone into this paper and presentation: there was the initial decision to focus on Yoga & Body Image
, the survey that I put out to the yoga community
(thanks to all who filled this out!), and the interesting findings from my survey about the yoga clothing brand, Lululemon
. All of this went into a longer paper and presentation that allowed me to delve deeper into this topic--and although I thought that once I was done with the paper and presentation, I would just move on, yesterday, I discovered that this is just the beginning of a journey into this topic for me...
During my presentation, I was overwhelmed by the need for a conversation about this topic. There was an amazing amount of sharing, a number of questions, and some very interesting discussions and points of view that came up. I felt that the workshop could have been 4 hours long, and that we could have had a number of very deep conversations about where the yoga industry is headed and what this means for us as students and teachers of the practice. The group was made up of a wide variety of yogis, all of whom had some sort of interest in this topic--some had personally struggled with body image issues or an eating disorder, some were teachers who may be teaching students who have body image issues, and some were yogis who simply want to become more aware of how these issues are affecting our yoga community as a whole.
But do you know what was my biggest takeaway from the workshop? This issue is even more important and more prevalent than I realized.
We ALL struggle with body image issues in different ways, and as a teacher of yoga who is passionate about this subject, I have a responsibility and a calling to help others who have struggled with learning to love, appreciate, and take care of their physical selves. The conversation on Yoga & Body Image has just begun for me, and I am definitely going to take it further.
What does this mean? Here's what I'm mulling over:
1. Creating a "Love Your Body" workshop or afternoon retreat for students based on what I learned from my thesis. The workshop will focus on healing, sharing, and growing, by using our yoga practice and yoga community as a support system and method of empowerment for those struggling with body image issues of ANY kind.
2. Creating a workshop for yoga teachers that will help them learn how they can be more aware of these issues and in turn, how to make their classes more accepting and inviting for all body types, shapes, and sizes.
3. Trying to further develop my paper and work to get it published somewhere/somehow,
so that more people can become involved in this oh-so-important conversation.
I'm excited to begin putting my work to use helping others (although I must admit, I'm not planning on getting to any of this until after
the wedding)--I hope you will join me in this journey!
Again, a BIG thank you to everyone who attended, supported, helped out, and contributed to my study of this topic along the way. You are *fabulous* and I'm so thankful to have you in my life!
Michael Joel Hall and Michael Roike. Image via myfoxdc.com
Although a terrible event has recently taken place in DC
, as I've watched the DC yoga community take action this past week, I couldn't be more proud to be a part of this amazingly loving, caring, active, and powerful group of people.
For those who don't live in DC or don't know what has recently happened here, the gay couple in the image above, both named Michael, were attacked by a gang of young people last weekend in what police are investigating as a hate crime (you can watch the news coverage and learn more here
). The man on the left in the picture above, Michael Joel Hall, is a beloved DC-area yoga teacher, who is still in the hospital after having to get a metal plate put into the side of his face due to the injuries he sustained from the beating. Sadly, Michael does not have health insurance AND to make matters worse, the couple's apartment recently burned down in an accidental fire, leaving them with very little. It's an absolutely heartbreaking story, but there is
something wonderful that has come out of it...
The DC yoga community has come together to offer a number of amazing benefit classes for Michael. It seems that almost every studio has stepped in to help, as has Lululemon Logan Circle (where Michael is an ambassador) and a bunch of Michael's close friends and colleagues. Many teachers are volunteering their time and energy to spread the word, teach classes in Michael's name, and stand up against what may have been a hate crime. It has been extremely powerful to be in on all the emails, facebook groups/events, and news that has been coming out of this tragedy, as people have swiftly come together to support this one cause--and I can see that as a group, we'll be able to raise a lot of money and support for the Michael Joel Hall Fund
I feel unbelievably lucky to be a part of the DC yoga community, and to be a part of the yoga world in general; a world where you help those in need and where giving is much more important than taking or earning.
If you want to donate to the Michael Joel Hall fund, you can click here
You can learn more about a bunch of the benefit classes in the area here
, and can check out the Facebook Group for the Michaels here.
For my fellow Tranquil Space yogis, we'll be hosting classes for Michael at both studios this weekend, and you can view all of the information here