Determination and Acceptance

It really is a love story.

They pair well, like rosé and every single food on the planet.

Determination comes from a deep yet light place of focus, joy, desire, and even lust. If you want something badly enough, determination will shine through like a dolphin cresting the water as your merrily boating by.

Acceptance hangs out like that aunt who doesn’t understand it’s time to go home even though everyone is in their pajamas and turning out the lights. It’s there, it’s not going anywhere, and you can’t budge it with a shovel or a rope. Not even a fork lift. You just have to resign yourself to it, and it’s best to find a fondness for it. Aunt Kia means well, and she just wants some love and attention. So do the things we must accept. When we resist, we’ve got a situation like Aunt Kia holding the $300.00 skis you just bought hostage, threatening her switch blade over the gleaming newness of the nose. It’s going to be a disaster and an avoidable one at that. Just let her sleep it off on the sofa, yo. She’ll be fine in the morning and pissed about tripping over your skis, deeming them ostentatious and stupid.

Accept your knees don’t want to move the way you want them too. That might mean giving up pigeon pose, an all-time favorite. It doesn’t need to remain a favorite if it has the potential to ruin your poor knees even more. Dismiss that portly bird, and find a better hip opener. Be determined to find a way without hurting yourself. You and your body will get along a whole hell of a lot better.

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Posted in advanced yoga, choices, growth, life lessons, mindset, opinion, Rosé, Yoga Class themes | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

This Is Not a Hobby

I do love hobbies though. Some of mine are:

  • Identifying stores that I believe (I damn well know) to be drug fronts.
  • Stating the obvious.
  • Looking up hairstyles I’ll never ever pull the trigger and rock.
  • Greeting each dog I encounter with embarrassing adoration.
  • Going grocery shopping and somehow walking out of the store empty-handed.
  • Obsessively searching my apartment for more shit I can give away. I won’t be happy until it looks like I’ve been robbed.
  • Corn hole (It’s a midwest thing).
  • Backgammon (slowly becoming less of a hobby and more of a career goal.)

Yoga has never been that. It’s not something most of us just do on occasion. It becomes an obsession and stays one. We don’t have to talk ourselves into practicing. We never don’t feel like it (hardly ever). And even if we don’t, the second we get on the well-worn and likely filthy mat (we don’t care), we’re excited again. Warrior two never bores me because there’s some new sensation to be discovered. That goes for pretty much every yoga posture there is.

When we come obsessed (otherwise known as passionate), it’s arduous to conceptualize how some people say, “Yoga isn’t my thing.” We want to ask them to try again. To attempt a different style or take a beginner series. Seeing our yoga friends at a bar is downright thrilling. We know how strong and attentive they are. They even hold their wine in a way that demonstrates awareness of others around them, protecting their vino while still engaging fully in a conversation.

If you’re reading my blog, then it’s highly likely you feel the same. Yoga is your thing and it’s always going to be your thing. You think working on your plank pose at home by yourself is a good time. And you’re right. You are blown away when you learn something you’ve always done isn’t the best way to go about it, and feel excited to explore a better approach. You feel proud of your breath. Me too.

Hobbies are just things we do and enjoy. Yoga is something we have to do. We’re that weirdo at the airport in the corner stretching. We don’t care because we know how much better we’ll feel after the impending four-hour plane ride. We do balance series and breath work before we call someone we have trouble communicating with. We consider the yamas and niyamas to be tools that have saved our jobs and marriages. We love hearing other people’s yoga stories. Not just how they got into yoga, but much more importantly why. Why did you?

 

 

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Talking Yourself Into It

 

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Me with my dearest friend Nicole Jurovics. A mere 2.5 years after finishing yoga teacher training, I talked her into putting out an instructional yoga DVD called Yoga Dose with me. It was a cool experience, but it didn’t quite make us millionaires. Not even thousandaires. 

 

We get ideas. Sometimes those ideas have such a tenacious grip on our psyche that we have no choice but to follow through and bring them to fruition. They are far and few between though. Most of our ideas come and go, and we can recognize them as not being worth the time or effort. These ideas are mediocre at best. But sometimes we have to go through certain processes to land on the fact that the idea kinda sucked.

After reading, Start Something That Matters, by Blake Mycoskie (Founder of TOMS), I got this ‘big’ idea to start a messenger bag company and have the bags made in the women’s prison near Columbus, Ohio. I called the company ‘Message’. I hired a designer to help me with a sample bag. There was to be a message on the bag somewhere. Inside, the bottom of the bag, or on the inside flap. I thought it would be cool to offer messages that I wrote. Things like ‘Force nothing, follow instinct, be loving, and grateful.’ That’s the tattoo I have on my arm and it took me two years to decide on the exact wording. I also wanted people to have the option of writing their own message. I wanted the bags to be very unisex and easily recognizable. My dream was for people to go out of their way to ask someone who was carrying the bag, “What’s your message?” I pitched my idea to the Department of Justice. They liked it initially and took me out to the prison to meet with the women who worked in the sewing department. I showed these women my sample and told them my plan. They were excited about it and I was busy envisioning my fetus of a company becoming like TOMS. When it was time to pitch my idea to the board, I didn’t have a lot of the answers they were looking for and felt foolish that I was so underprepared. They did not give me the approval, and rightly so. I let it go and have barely even thought about it since I originally concepted it three years ago.

It would have been damn hard to make a go of it. It was good the idea was brought to a halt because I would have wasted a lot of time and money otherwise.

Other, even worse, ideas have come and gone. The ones that stuck have continued to be a joy to develop and explore. We have to pull the trigger or nothing will happen. Below is a short list of ideas that not only glued themselves to my identity, but also progressively morph and shape my life.

  • Yoga Teacher Training, Peachtree Yoga in Atlanta, Georgia. It was something to sink my teeth into and became my career.
  • Yoga Train, A Novel. It took me five years to finish it because I put it down numerous times. But I kept coming back because I really wanted to tell the story. If you’re thinking of signing up for a yoga teacher training, read this novel. It will provide you a glimpse and the flavor of what’s in store for you. If you’re currently in a TT or post one, you’ll hopefully enjoy reliving your experience as you read about Devon, Ruby, Miles, Curry, and Teak. You’ll likely recognize yourselves and the others who shared this journey with you.
  • iworkbarefoot.com. This idea came from my own futile search for fresh vocabulary and mini sequences to utilize in my classes. I teach twelve regular classes a week and was looking for new ideas and inspiration. I just didn’t want to spend hours scouring the web. So I created what I craved. I hope it helps you with your classes.
  • Moving to Columbus, Ohio from Atlanta. This was an impulsive whim that’s paid off beyond what I could have hoped for. I’ll miss living in Atlanta forever. My friends have remained very close, and for that, I’m incredibly grateful. But Columbus has offered me proximity to my parents and siblings, and wonderful yoga community, and my very loved partner, Jason, and his two incredible daughters.

Share your big ideas that worked out. Share the ones that didn’t. I’d love to hear what other people chose and dismissed. Muah!

 

 

 

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Enjoying Your Own Company

Do you? If so, tell me all the reasons why. I want to know what you’ve discovered that I have not. I love spending time alone, but like most people, at some point, I want to be around others. I have that choice. And I’m very grateful it’s a choice.

If you can’t stand to be alone, I want to know about that too.

Reasons I love being in solitude:

  • I’m talkative but need to recharge with silence.
  • When I’m alone with my thoughts, I listen better. I take myself on in a way I can’t when I’m with others.
  • I’m much more inclined to sit down (or stand up) and write.
  • I can read, which I need and love.
  • I adore practicing alone, often more than I even do when I go to a class. I need the classes because sometimes the motivation to get on my mat is propelled by being with others. But when I’m by myself just moving at my own pace without too much though, interesting things happen. I also adore interesting things.
  • I appreciate my time with other people even more when I’ve had time to myself.
  • No one judges me for eating standing up and far too fast. Or what bizarre configuration of food I’m devouring not so delicately.
  • It’s always bra-free time.
  • You always get to be the sole DJ.
  • It can and will make you more productive if you set tasks for yourself that you demand you complete before you can go out and be around other folks.

 

When it’s not a choice, and I recognize for many it’s not, it has the potential to be lonely and perhaps painful. No one likes to be alone when they really want to be around others. Reasons it’s not always so cool:

  • The thoughts we hide out from when we’re occupied by the company of others can’t be so easily avoided. If the thoughts are untrue and we foster them, that will always cause us to suffer.
  • If the thoughts are true, and we haven’t wanted to deal, being alone makes that a bit harder. It’s both necessary and difficult. If you can get on the other side and recognize you needed to deal with it, it lands you back in the category of why spending time alone is so important.
  • You just might have to clean the damn bathroom.
  • If you really want to talk, and there’s no one to talk to, you might wind up talking to yourself. And then you might feel a little weird about it, but you keep doing it.
  • It has the potential to be boring.
  • It also has the potential to steer you away from gratitude. That’s never good.
  • If you’re a ruminator (like I am), being alone provides way too much enticement to perpetuate that habit.

I want to hear your thoughts on this. Please post in comments if you’re game.

 

 

 

 

 

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Protective

When I was a teen, I had a friend named Betsy. She had three older brothers, and they were fiercely concerned with her well-being. When we were at parties as freshmen, her senior brother would immediately infiltrate any conversation Besty was having with anyone who was not wearing flats and earrings so big they could be seen from space. I thought it was so incredibly cool how protective and concerned they were for her safety and overall happiness. Just like a dog with her favorite bone or chew toy, you were not getting near Betsy unless you were brother-approved.

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Now that I’m just a tad older, is see protectiveness as a very different thing. I’m protective of my leg that I broke the shit out of in an ATV accident three years ago. Every time I even consider getting on a bike, I hear about a bike accident that has me racing towards my two legs to carry me forward.

I’m protective of my rotator cuffs. I’m very wary of being around others when they have a cold or the flu. I’m loyal to my self-respect and will move away from anyone who threatens that shield.

Being protective means we take care of ourselves, and we appreciate others who look out for our best interest. We trust those who want to protect us from negative self-talk, bad decisions, and untrue thoughts that get in our way.

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Why Do You REALLY Want to Teach Yoga?

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This is me in Bakasana. I couldn’t do this pose when I was going through teacher training. I couldn’t do any inversions without the wall. You don’t have to be an acrobat to teach asana, but you do need to remain a dedicated student and continue to advance your own practice. And my damn elbows are flaring out a bit. It’s always a work in progress. 

Why?

Seriously, can you answer the question?

The latest statistics tell us over 37 million people are doing yoga in the U.S. every year. The number has been growing and growing. Pretty soon, the more common question may be, “Where do you practice yoga?” instead of, “Do you do yoga?”

Supply and demand, right? If more people are doing yoga, then more yoga studios can open and thrive to accommodate this growing need. That means more teachers are required. More students equal a demand for more teachers. Simple math.

Yet, according to Yoga Alliance, there are well over five thousand yoga teacher training programs in the United States. This includes both 200 and 300-hour programs, and various different tracks. The data that’s not available is how many of these programs offer more than one training per year. My guess is the average program offers a training at least twice a year.

This means the yoga teaching field is now quite saturated, and there’s lots of competition for jobs.

It’s pretty damn difficult for a person to make a living teaching yoga. This does not include the yoga superstars such as Jason Crandell, Katherine Budig, and Faith Hunter. They are in a whole different stratosphere of financially successful, highly respected and widely known teachers. I’m talking about the average teacher who needs to teach around fifteen classes per week, run all over the city, back and forth between studio classes, private clients, gyms, corporations, and universities. It means your day might begin by teaching a 6 a.m. class and end with your evening class getting out at 9 p.m. It will frequently mean three classes a day, and often seven days a week. Boo fucking hoo, right? This is a description of the full-time, ‘successful’ yoga teacher. And s/he probably makes an average of $1,000 a week, if she’s lucky. I know because this is a very accurate description of me. Today, I have a 9:30 a.m. class, then another at noon, and a private group at 5 p.m. Not a bad schedule, right? Actually, that part is pretty great. But I’ll make about $175.00 today, driving to three different locations, and in between, I’ll be doing class prep, updating my playlists, responding to emails from those I’m mentoring in their teacher training, and hustling for more work.

Many things about this life are pretty damn spectacular. But the meager pay and time expenditure is tough. And this is what success looks like in this field. That’s why so few people do it full-time and are even able to get enough classes to be able to.

Most teachers teach 1-3 classes each week. They do it because they want to teach, but they also have another career to pay the bills. For them, it’s a pleasure and it’s disposable income. They teach because they love yoga, and they have something specific they want to offer students.

So what about all the people who go through teacher training with big eyes and goals to become the next Sadie Nardini? Well, that could happen, but it’s a pretty large longshot. It takes a giant commitment and a lot of years to get there. And you have to be damn excellent at it. No one in that world is famous and well-paid because they’re cute. They have something extraordinary to offer, well beyond what most can. Their dedication, knowledge, experience, hard work, and wisdom, plus that extra special ‘something’ is how they pull it off. Their passion created the drive to do all of the above and develop a very far reach.

How about those who obtain their 200-hour certification, but they are still at the beginning stages of their own practice? Why do they want to teach? Maybe they don’t, but believe teacher training will help them develop their own practice and knowledge base faster than practicing every day for years. There’s truth to that. The community, shared experience, and diving in will undoubtedly have a profound impact on your practice and understanding of the vastness that is yoga.

A yoga practitioner’s reasons for completing teacher training only need to be of concern to them. It’s really no one else’s business why you chose to train. But actually teaching yoga is a whole other thing.

Why do you want to teach? It’s a question you should be able to answer. Your answer will change and alter over the years, but it’s a question that needs to be asked again and again. Many people take breaks from teaching because they can’t answer the question anymore. And one day, the answer comes back, and it’s different than the one they used to operate by. My answers have changed over and over throughout the years. Yours will too.

Today, I want to teach to be of service. I want to assist in fostering a student’s desire to connect with themselves and stand tall in facing their emotions, truths, and fears. I want to drive home the importance of safety and making wise decisions in the practice that exists on the mat, and even more so off. I want to encourage nurture and kindness, yet total honesty. I want to teach to share my passion and hopefully spark it in others.

Posted in advice for new teachers, community, growth, love, mindset, opinion, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Slow Your Roll

Man, I love that phrase. It’s fun to say, and for some reason, easier to hear than, ‘Calm down.’ That’s just condescending.

Slowing down is advice we all need to talk on the regular. It never works out in yoga if you try to rush into a pose. Either you’ll fall out of it, or pull something important because you weren’t warmed up.

Being in a big hurry didn’t work when I first released my novel, Yoga Train. I hired a proofreader, but apparently, I needed to proof her work because I received a few comments from reviewers about the high number of typos. Ug, it was so embarrassing and avoidable if I’d just done my due diligence. That shit is fixed now, so hopefully, if I get any negative reviews, it’s only about the story line or a character. So far, so good!

I moved to Columbus, Ohio from Atlanta in the dead of winter in 2010. Um, yeah, not my most solid decision. But I was in one mother of a hurry to make a big change, so I ignored all the sound advice around me to just wait until May for the love. I should have listened, but it all worked out okay;-)

Now that I’m really analyzing it, rushing anything just simply goes against common sense. But there is a line when you’ve moved just slow enough, and it’s time to execute. It absolutely can go the opposite way if you move at sloth-speed, and you’re too late to the party. Find that fine line, and walk it, yo. What examples can you offer? I’d love to know. I gotta go practice now. Until next time.

 

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