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Embodied Skin: Learning to Self Soothe
Touch is one of our primary languages. From the moment we connect to our mothers cellularly in utero, to the moments after birth, when we rested on the skin and body of our mothers, we learned how to soothe and regulate our body. Our skin is the way we connect to the world around us. In times of stress, or overwhelm, it can contract and tense. This is one of the wonderful ways it can support us from not feeling and sensing in moments of distress. Tension in our skin can have an overall impact on our cellular membranes as well. Our cell walls mimic our skin. Long term tension can result in longer term digestion issues, dehydration, etc. As we come back into states of rest and relaxation, the skin will become softer and more spacious. The cellular boundaries will also start to reflect a more healthy permeability. As that happens, our cells can receive more nourishment. This is also the place where we can also begin to feel more sensation. And systems like our fascia, which connect to our skin, can also soften and relax more. It means that the overall fluid dynamics of the body change. At the moment, while the world has stepped back from touch and physical connection, we can bring healing self touch to our skin, as a way to sooth and calm the nervous system. If we can learn to be really present, soft and spacious, something really magical can happen in the skin. I invite you to take some time touching the skin of your arms and legs. And touch from a place of deep listening, rather than just doing the action. See if you can attune deeply to the skin and check out the video below if you'd like. I look forward to hearing what you discover.
Living a Life of Bravery & Courage: Lessons from the Goddess Durga
I can’t count the number of times this year that I have cried because of the state of the world. As an American living abroad at this moment in history, my heart is totally breaking for my country. Any way you cut it, the world will not be the same as we enter 2021. One of the only things to get me through this year has been my spiritual practice. And lately, I have been sitting with the goddess Durga. She is a goddess that appears at a moment when it seems as though all is lost. In my experience of working with her, she is heart centered courage. To me, Durga is the definition of brave. I am not sure if you feel this as well, but I believe our society is being asked to evolve right now. Specifically, I think we are all asked to be living a courageous and brave life. COURAGE & BRAVERY DEFINED Both courage and bravery have been values we have loved as a culture. The dictionary defines courage as: mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty. And we can define bravery as courageous behavior. Bravery is a courage synonym. In 2007, researchers defined courage as a wilful, intentional act, executed after mindful deliberation, involving objective substantial risk to the actor, primarily motivated to bring about a noble good or worthy end, despite, perhaps, the presence of the emotion of fear. For me, these words have always meant big, life-giving actions, like someone who gives their life to protect innocent people. But over the years, I have come to realize bravery shows up as little daily choices. WHY IS COURAGE IMPORTANT? One of my favorite courage quotes comes from Maya Angelou. She says that: Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can't practice any other virtue consistently. This courage quote reminds me that that courage is the foundation of every other virtue. In order to life a life in alignment to our essence and truth, we must have courage. Because it is easy to abandon ourselves to the crowd. Friendship and belonging are important, but not at the expense of ourselves. WHAT IF COURAGE ISN’T A WEAPON? Working with Durga this time, I have discovered an absolute sweetness and softness to her. It inspired me to think about courage a little differently. Over the years, I have always treated courage as a rigid, almost knife-like thing. I learned very early on that I had to fight to be heard. And I have been fighting ever since. I have always valued courage and bravery. So, I would always take steps to face fear, but I would be dissociated while doing it. For example, when I first started teaching, I was terrified of teaching. I have learning disability that causes me to forget words. I would practice cues using alternative words in front of the mirror for hours. I would be so worried that I would forget words, that the stress would make my forgetfulness worse. I would get up and do it anyway. And, while that worked to changes things a little bit, it never actually changed the fear. Not until I was able to listen to my fear of being seen, and then gave it the love and support that my fear needed to be seen and shift. (Also, this has never fully gone away... I just have more capacity to meet it now). Developmentally, babies take risks because they are supported to do so. It’s an innate and important part of the process of learning. The thing about courage is that it happens because of support. It doesn’t have to be a fight. When courage comes from the heart, it can be both powerful and soft. HOW CAN WE LIVE A LIFE OF COURAGE AND BRAVERY?
Lately, my biggest question has been – how do we live a life of bravery in a deeply polarized world? I think we are really being challenged in the modern times. I do believe that courage and brave actions are being asked of us. So, how can courage support us in moving forward? And how can you cultivate it? Journal about the world you want to live in. Notice the themes and desires you have written about. This can help you understand what world you want to co-create. Remember that each day, what you nurture with your time and actions will support these values to be seeded in the world. Create a foundation of support for yourself. Babies don’t learn because they know that they must grow up and get a job and make money. They learn because their curiosity is supported. Taking risks doesn’t have to be scary or difficult. It can be fun and playful. Learn to connect with the things that let you feel supported and safe so that it’s easier to be courageous. Learn to listen to yourself and others. If there is anything that 2020 has taught me, it’s that everyone’s experience is incredibly different. We have different reasons for why we believe the things that we do, and these experiences are based on our unique life. While something might feel similar, someone else’s experience is unique. Please, learn to hear someone else and to truly hear yourself. You don’t have to have the same experience to both be true and valid. It takes heart and courage to listen to others in a world where we are taught that our perspective must be true. This can allow courage that comes from the heart rather than a place of fear. Fear isn’t the enemy. Our emotions are like guideposts. And fear is an emotion that keeps us safe. Learn to distinguish between healthy fear and the fearful places where you could and should take risks. Celebrate your wins. You are taking risks every day. You might not even realize that you’re taking them! Observe the moments when you take a risk and count it as a win. Noticing that you are already courageous might help you to show up more courageously. You are an amazing and wonderful droplet of the cosmos. I look forward to hearing some examples of courage from each of you.
Choosing Courage: Lessons from Durga
In one split second, I realized that I had to make a decision about who I am. In that moment, I had to make the choice about who I was and what I stood for. It was the first time that I really met the Durga energy in my life, even though I had no idea who she was at the time. It was the year 2011, and I was living in Cairo, Egypt at the time. It was in the middle of an uprising known as the Arab Spring. At the time, I was studying human rights law. So it was an interesting moment in time to be there. That day, my friends and I were walking around, bringing medical supplies to people who had been injured. In all honesty, I was curious to see what was happening and to witness this moment in history. As I left the house that morning, I was utterly unprepared for all that I would see that day. As we rounded the corner on to Kasr el Aini, I watched the police open fire on a group of protesters. As I looked around me, at rows of hundreds of police officers, I realized the severity of the situation. I stood, dumbfounded, as they pulled protestors violently off the bridge, specifically a young woman my age. I felt frozen in place. Something in my brain switched off. It told me to run and leave everyone behind. The only thing I had to do was to keep myself safe at that point. Then, I looked over at my friends. And as I did, some shred of my humanity returned. They were sitting next to the woman who had been dragged off the bridge. I remember seeing her face and realizing that she was terrified and in pain. It wasn’t uncommon for people to be arrested by the police and never return. Jail in Egypt was no joke. And in that moment, I realized one of the officers was walking towards her in a way that let me know he would harm her. I knew I had to make a choice of what I would do, and the choice could mean that I would be harmed. I had to choose to stand with her, or to run away and let her be beaten by the police officer. Something in me knew that I could only make one choice. I had committed my life to help oppressed people. And so, I decided that I would take a stand. In what felt like an hour, but was probably only a matter of seconds, I stood up and turned to face the police officer. I mustered every ounce of courage I could find in my body and said to him, “You will not touch her.” The officer looked at me, studying me intently for a moment. Then he laughed and shrugged his shoulders as he walked away. My friend and I walked this woman through the lines of police. This was the first moment that I felt a tangible energy of Durga. It was a moment that reminded me of who I am and what I believe in. One aspect of Durga is the essence of courage. In her mythology, she comes to save the world at a moment when it seems as though it will be lost. She has the fierce protective energy of a loving mother. She has taught me again and again of the importance of support in discovering courage; how I support myself and how I let the environment around me support me to step into the world bravely. But most importantly, Durga reminds me that courage is an act of love. What were the moments of courage you have experienced in your own life?
Creating Sacred Space
One of the practices I have really gotten into lately is meditating with a little ritual to open the space. I always find it to be an incredibly powerful experience. In fact, it was something that ancient yogis would do each day when they went through their meditation rituals. I thought I would write a blog post about my little ritual on opening the space and give you some tips on how you can create your own. First, I wanted to level with you about what it means to 'hold space'. This is a term that is quite often used in yoga, new age and spiritual communities. However, I am using it in a very specific way here. In this context, holding space is when you charge the space around you with supportive energies. Materials you might want: 1. Crystals- You may like to have some crystals that you feel particularly attracted to. They will be ones that make your body feel good when you touch them. Or perhaps you have read that a particular crystal supports the intention of your meditation. 2. Sage or Palo Santo- This is meant to help you clear the space of any negative energies that won't serve your highest purpose. 3. Feather- You may want to use the feather to help you send the smoke from the sage or palo santo around the room. 4. Candle- I always like to have the element of fire during my meditation, as it represents burning away impurities. Ancient yogis used the elements throughout meditation. In fact, the elements are actually what we think of as the bija mantras of the chakras. You may also wish to bring in other elements, such as earth or water. 5. Other items that feel special or sacred for you. It could be something you have collected from nature. It could be a statue or something that represents something to you. After you have found a space in your home that feels airy and light, or that you simply feel connected to, you can begin to start your ritual for opening the space. I like to call in the eight direction of ancient yoga practices. So I am going to list that below. According to this practice (which I learned from Shiva Rea and Chris Tompkins), the eight directions would hold the space as the yogi became the center of the universe for meditation. These are gods from the Hindu religion. You can also research other spiritual disciplines that you connect more with, as this is a common practice (you could technically even invite in Jesus, or another guide you work with). *North is always in front of you. North- Visualization, or sprinkling water Northwest- Kubira West- Maroot Southwest- Indra South- Raksasa Southeast- Yama East- Agni Northeast- Maroona y Ishna Vraga below Brahma above Once you have opened the space, use this as an opportunity to meditate, practice yoga, or chant. It's a beautiful experience when the space can be held. For me, I can really feel myself, feel safe and feel like something bigger has 'got my back'. At the end, it's important to close the space, say thank you, and release whatever has come to support you. Please stay in touch and let me know your experiences with it! Image from my incredible friend Rosie Santos. Find more of her work here.
Kali - Dissolve Everything that is Not Love
Kali, you wild goddess. The first time I met her, it felt like the rug got pulled out from underneath me. Again and again and again. The deepest darkest places, hidden in my psyche, came to haunt me. My fear reared its head. I met her in her full force. Which can sometimes happen when we are unintentional with the goddesses. But, as I got to know her and became more clear in my own boundaries in the ritual space, we met differently. I learned that she was, in fact, love. Her most significant message she has ever given me was- dissolve everything that is not love. In her chants, I have met a wild, untamed part of myself. An energy so potent and powerful, it feels as though it could burst through my skin. An energy that I once feared, I have come to relax into and allow. In fact, it is an energy that I deeply enjoy. She taught me about time. Sometimes, when I chant her, I can feel myself travel through time and space to unknown places. She helped me meet my ancestors. She helped me discover my power in the fire of my own heart. She can be scary if we don’t meet her standing in our own power and with the clarity and boundary of intention. She will cut through the bullshit really fast, and she can leave you in a place of brokenness. But she is also an incredible and loving teacher. And part of coming into the light is about how we navigate our own darkness, as it is the unconscious that often controls us. But when we get clear on how we want to meet the unconscious, so much can easily and powerfully come to the light with her. She brings us the possibility of true awakening. Art work by the talented Rosie Santos. It can be found here.
Lakshmi - Goddess of Abundance
Lakshmi was the first of the goddesses that I ever met. On the day that I decided to meet her, I cleaned my house. It was weird. I mean, not that I am not clean, but I am not usually that clean. As I sat down to read Sally Kempton’s book, Awakening Shakti, I had to laugh. The first paragraph said that they way to welcome in Lakshmi was by cleaning your home. There is something about having a clean house, or clean energy, that allows Lakshmi to come into someone’s life. It was her chant that I first learned. And I remember that as I chanted, with the intention that I would meet the partner that would lead to my greatest healing, I felt a big wave move out into the universe. Two weeks later, I met my husband. Since then, she has taught me that abundance comes by letting go of what doesn’t serve me, so my energy can support my purpose. She has taught me that receiving is a sacred act and deeply important for supporting me to prosper. She has taught me that love grows when you nurture it by noticing. Lakshmi has often by my hail Mary pass. I chanted her every day as the pandemic started, and she supported me in ways that continue to unfold and amaze me. I am thankful for her and for all that she has done for me. She will often hold those who honor her with sweetness. So even as things fall apart, there is a support there that she offers. Of all the goddesses, her energy is powerfully soft. To know her is to know the joy and auspiciousness that life can hold. Image by the artist Rosie Santos. Find her work here.
Saraswati- Goddess of Inspired Creativity
I avoided getting to know this goddess for a long time. But for months, I had been feeling an ego death sneaking up on me. Right around Christmas, I could feel this plateau happen. Something in me was dying, brought on by a building emptiness and discontent. I had to sit with whether or not I wanted to keep teaching. Or if I even identified with being a yoga teacher. At some level, that label no longer fit me. Saraswati is known as the flowing one, very closely associated with the element of water. It is the fluid in our bodies, or our mothers’ bodies, that incubates our potency and the energy of all electrical impulses of life. The fluids are the medium through which our ideas travel. Saraswati is very much this medium that pulls ideas into form. She is the goddess of inspired creativity. So, I allowed stillness to happen. There is an incredible amount of stillness in the moments when we first divide as an embryo in our mother’s womb. In that dynamic stillness, potency builds. Potency is the bringer of movement and life. It is the energy that is necessary for changes to happen. And, just like we learn how to listen to the desire to move as infants, this energy of desire emerges from excitement. As an adult, repeatedly taught not to listen to myself, it can feel a lot more like a whisper. As I waited for her whisper, I chanted and invoked her through ritual. I relaxed into gravity and allowed for the unknowing. In the myths, Sarswati emerges from chaos to create clarity and form. And as I chanted, she came. Like a bolt of lightning. My mouth dripped poetry, my body felt things it had never felt before. There was a sense of solidness and clarity in me that I had never experienced before. I fell in love with her. She helped to remind me of my purpose. And to remember what is possible in the label of yoga teacher. Even if I was unsatisfied with the how that label has contained me. Even still, as I write this and move into a new phase of my life, I feel her here. So, as we move through this incredibly crazy period of life in the world, what do you want to create? What has been calling you, whispering sweetly in your heart? Let me know in the comments below. Beautiful image by artist Rosie Santos. Find more of her work here.
Studio Highlight: Estuary Yoga
Hey yogis! I got a chance to interview the owner of Estuary Yoga in North Melbourne. I spoke to the amazing Lucy Lawes about her vision, her teachers, and what has been an inspiration for creating her studio. I was really excited to interview Lucy because I actually did an interview for her blog a few years back. She has continuously impressed me with her dedication to her practice of yoga, both on and off her mat, and compassion for those in her community. She is one of those rare studio owners who walks her yoga talk and is also a talented business owner. Her space is warm, inviting and community oriented. 1. Tell me a little bit about your studio and intention with creating Estuary Yoga. An estuary is where the waterways meet the vast ocean. This is a beautiful illustration of connection - different parts of ourselves, and people from all walks of life, coming together inharmony and community. Like this natural sanctuary, Estuary offers each person a space to breathe, move, and cultivate ownership of creating balance and flow in their lives. Amidst the busy noise of daily doing, there is space to navigate home, in community. I believe there’s great power in harnessing our more embodied, empowered and conscientious selves. It is only from this internal peace that we can, individually and collectively, start to move not from fear, but from love. 2. What are some of the values that you think your studio adheres to? Three words guide our ethos: Nurture, Enliven, Grow. Yoga is a daily practice of constant and courageous exploration: paying attention to intention.Sometimes, rest is needed; others, there is fire and energy to fuel exploration. Like a tree, we need to honour the slow, steadfast roots as well as the vibrance of upward growth. Our mission is to hold space that facilitates this balanced approach. 3. How would you describe the brand of Estuary? Natural, simple, and welcoming. 4. Do you feel like your brand plays a role in how you hire new teachers? Yes. We look for teachers who, in short, can ‘own it’. Our teachers are a diverse team, each growing and embodying the teachings they share. It’s not to do with perfection, but the dedication to process. In doing so, this offers permission for others to align to their own truth and values. 5. What are some of the things that you look for in new teachers when you are hiring? Curiosity, dedication, compassion (for themselves and others), and the courage to be responsible for their own choices - on and off the mat. To be able to leave the ego at the door, learn from mistakes with good humour, and in simpler terms, ‘own it’! 6. What is your best advice for new teachers who are looking to get into teaching? Practice. As a student, and as a teacher.
Be open to being uncomfortable. That’s where you’ll grow.
See the opportunities, rather than the barriers. Smile when you wobble.
Know your own values, but remain respectful of others finding their own path. Thanks to Lucy and the community at Estuary Yoga! They do have a teacher rate (14$ for a single class or 60$ for 5) who would like to attend classes and incredible classes. If you would like to try them out, you can check out their website here. They also have an intro offer of 35$ for two weeks of yoga. Plus, they always have an amazing series of workshops and upcoming events. It is a wonderful studio to keep learning and growing in your practice of yoga.
My Journey into Finding Fearless Integrity
"Death is not the biggest fear we have; our biggest fear is taking the risk to be alive—the risk to be alive and express what we really are. Just being ourselves is the biggest fear of humans. We have learned to live our lives trying to satisfy other people’s demands. We have learned to live by other people’s points of view because of the fear of not being accepted and of not being good enough for someone else." - Don Miguel Ruiz One of the things I have come to realize is that importance of deeply standing for something. As a teacher, I will admit that I have struggled with creating a clear offering. I have often tried to learn how to teach what is popular, or well liked. I listened to other people's feedback about my style, instead of showing up to what is in the room. Or I used excuses about the student's edges to not hold them accountable in the classroom. I will also admit that I had a really long way to go in order to be in relationship to the students. This meant that I was sometimes unwilling or unable to see the students, allow myself to be seen and vulnerable. I hid behind a tough veneer that was fairly impenetrable and completely without compassion, much reflective of the relationship I had with myself at the time. Most of the time I wavered between desperately wanting to please students, and then being angry about their rejection. However, as I have cultivated a deeper relationship with myself, I have learned how to have relationship with my own beliefs. I have discovered that in order to stand for something, to make an offering that will touch people deeply, I have to choose who I am from a place of wholeness, while having the boundary to let others dislike of my offering pass through me. In order to meet another, I have realized that I have to have something for them to meet as well. Every person has a truth. No one truth is more real than the next. However, staying curious about the shape of the world's of those around you, while maintaining your integrity, will allow you the flexibility to reshape aspects of your truth while also allowing the irrelevant stuff to pass through you. Plus, integrity allows me to stand my ground in a higher intention, to hold space for people's stuff and to meet each one of them with love. Having integrity is not about being right or wrong, but rather, about understanding how another's world is shaped and how my world meets theirs. One of the biggest lessons I have had on this journey is how to cherish the awkward moments. In my experience, those are the moments that create a deepening of relationship when I still have the courage to show up, vulnerable and open. Those are the moment that blow everything open. For each of the teachers out there who read this.... the world needs you. The REAL you. The one hidden behind the roles you play and the person you think you should be. That beautiful, imperfect, awkward and loving self is the one that will change the world. And I simply can't wait to meet them.
Studio Highlight: One Hot Yoga & Pilates
Hey yogis! One of the directions I would like to take the blog in is to explore different studios throughout Melbourne, their brand, and the reasons that they bring on board the teaching team that they do. I am interviewing studio managers, the people who make the decisions about who to hire, so you can get some insight into the process. For the first post in this exploration, I spoke to the amazing Zoe Klein over at One Hot Yoga & Pilates. One Hot Yoga & Pilates is one of the largest studios in Melbourne. Designed by Rob Mills, and created by his wife Lucinda, the studio is an oasis of elegance in South Yarra. The studio features hot yoga, power flow, and yin in two beautiful studio spaces that will literally and figuratively melt away the stress of daily life. It is also close to my heart because it was actually one of the first studios I ever visited when I first landed in Melbourne. And in full disclosure, I also work here. It's one of my favorite places to work because of the team and our amazing manager. She is a legend. Here are her thoughts on yoga and teaching. <3 1. Tell me a little bit about One Hot as a studio and as a brand. One Hot Yoga balances ancient practice with contemporary lifestyles. The studios are the result of a decade of inquiry into Meaningful Movement from yogi Lucinda Mills, combined with Rob Mills’ mastery of design. Together, they’ve re-imagined a traditional practice, defining a western physical philosophy through modern knowledge and striking architecture. Both studios are dedicated to movement and mindfulness, where everything from the contemporary design and advanced heating system to the signature scent and rain showers have been meticulously considered. The environment blends seamlessly with the practice ritual – from the moment you walk in to the second you leave, every element contributes to the experience. One is a uniquely modern idea; philosophy engaged with through the body, rather than a discourse of the mind. A spirituality that embraces emotion, sweat and pleasure. A sacred space that is respectful, welcoming and looks and feels gorgeous. As individuals we are one, but as One we are complete. We invite everyone to join the meaningful movement. 2. How do you think the teaching team supports the brand? Our intention is simple: to elevate the every-day from routine to ritual and create meaning through movement. We try to ensure that our teaching team show up each day inspired. This inspiration can stem anywhere from the beautiful space, the amazing community or just the pure love of Yoga. It is through this infectious inspiration that students feel inspired too. At the core of each of our amazing teachers, is a vibrant, courageous and confident personality. Each and every one of them have the ability to connect deeply with the students, elevate them, and keep them committed. It is through commitment to the practice that meaning through movement is really found. 3. What are some of the qualities you look at when you are hiring a new teacher? The first thing that I think about when meeting with new teachers is their personality. You can’t teach someone to match the vibe of your studio, it has to be a natural fit. When I can sense a teacher is really authentic, but also outgoing and friendly, I know that we are on the right track. Community is a huge focus of our studio, and I like to prioritise this over the technicalities of teaching, as these can be taught and improved on over time. 4. What are your best tips for new teachers who are interested in teaching? Don’t pretend to be something you’re not. It is okay to not be the most experienced teacher out there. Everyone has something of great value to share. The closer teachers come to understanding this, the more authentic their teaching feels. This is something I really admire and look out for in a new teacher, confidence in themselves and what they have to offer. 5. How do you combat fear? What were the tools that you used to get teaching for the first time? Using the support of the people around me. I practiced on people that I felt comfortable around, and that I knew would give me honest feedback. I also recognising that it’s okay to be fearful, just as it is when you try anything new! Have trust in the process. Thanks to Zoe and the One Hot team for their contribution! They do have a teacher rate for teachers who would like to attend classes (which is tax deductible if you are a teacher!) and a great team of teachers (although I might be a little biased). Expect something hot, sweaty, and fun!
What's Your Teaching Style?
As a new teacher, I think it is extremely helpful to explore the type of teacher you are. The more you can identify your style and your brand as a yoga teacher, the easier it can be to find studios that you will be happy at in the long term. Also know that this can change over time as you evolve in your interests and passions. Again, it's another way to identify what you want to study and what direction you are taking in your career, the type of content you post on social media, and where you find your tribe. There are four type of teachers and students that I think are fairly encompassing in the teaching community. These four types of students and teachers are based on a blog post by Christina Sell. As she says in her post, be wary of creating firm boundaries around any label. But let them be there to create a loose awareness of yourself, your teaching environment and your students. According to Sell, the types are: 1. Scientists and Engineers 2. Athletes and Dancers 3. Psychologists and Poets 4. The Monks and Mystics These are the ways that I would describe each of these categories of teachers and students. Scientists and Engineers These are the students and teachers who are extremely interested in the mechanics of the shapes. They want to know which muscles are being activated, how the muscles are being activated, the steps needed to create safety and strength in each shape. They may follow around teachers who have a solid understanding of progression and alignment. They want the classes to have some kind of physical learning moment, like a new shape, or a new muscle engagement. Some of the best tools to reach students like this would be including things like props used to deepen the pose, new tools to activate muscles, or solid cues that create more awareness around structural alignment. Athletes and Dancers These are the students and teachers who want to sweat it out! They want a good and fluid flow that doesn't require too much thinking. They want to be move without too much analysis of what's happening in the shape or in their experience. They want to achieve a shape without contemplation of how they ended up there. The don't want things like demonstrations, commentary, or philosophical musings. Tools that help you reach these yogis are inventive sequencing, a hard workout, and good tunes. Psychologists and Poets These are the students and the teachers who are deeply interested in the inner lives of themselves and their students. They may not care about the mechanics of the pose as much as they care about the journey that took them into that shape. They may care about how their drop back allowed them to conquer fear rather than the actual mechanics of the drop back. A sequence without a theme or meaning is empty for these types of yogis. Tools for reaching these yogis would include a deep theme with thought provoking questions. Monks and Mystics These are the teachers and students who enjoy mythology and religious concepts in class. They are the yogis who perhaps do not enjoy a super physical class, but rather attend classes that connect them more deeply into a spiritual experience. They want to know more about the spiritual practices of yoga, like pranayama, meditation, sacred sound, and chanting. Tools to reach these types of yogis would include conversations about spirituality, Tantrik philosophy, chanting, and mythology. Based on these four categories of teachers and students, I wanted to ask you a few questions for contemplation. Again, the more you know yourself, the easier it is to figure out where you belong. I think that in the beginning, you may want to try teaching a lot of different styles to see what works the best for you. And then, you may begin to identify what type of teacher you are and how you want to define yourself in the community. Keep coming back to these questions so you can continuously align yourself with your intention as a teacher. Know that you may be interested in a few different things, and I would encourage you be open and explore your interests. 1. What type of teacher are you? And do you fit into more than one category? 2. What are some studios around town you have been to that seem to embody these categories? How do you think these categories play out in the different studios you teach at or have visited as a student? 3. Are there any famous teachers you might identify with each of these categories? 4. Based on your interests, are there any concepts you would like to study more? Are there any teachers you would like to study with? I would love to hear your thoughts about where you find yourself! It's always exciting to learn more about what you are passionate about and I can't wait to hear about what lights you up.
So You Want to be a Full Time Yoga Teacher...
More and more often, I speak to people who want to leave their corporate career to become a full time yoga teacher. This often means taking a big risk, a pay cut, and venturing out into what is becoming a highly competitive industry. No big deal.... So how do you know if you are ready to take that kind of leap? As with anything in life, this is a question that only you can answer for yourself. But I wanted to share some of my thoughts on this that might guide you through decision making process. 1. Consider your finances. Ok. Yeah. This is boring af when you are looking to follow your passions. But it is super important to remember as you move forward in taking this leap. You should have enough savings to get you through a few months of not taking a significant income. That way, you won't be forced to take jobs that you don't like or don't want. It also means you can do things like network, which involves practicing at studios (not cheap), connect with fellow teachers and studio owners. Plus you will want to keep educating yourself as a teacher. You don't also have to take a deep dive into teaching. You could also work out some kind of slow and planned entrance into teaching. This also means that you could go part time at work, or take a part time, freelance job on the side. You could also work in hospitality two days a week. But taking the path that is most supportive and most realistic of your situation is the one that will have more long term viability. 2. Be super passionate about teaching. Teaching sounds great. But let me tell you, it's exhausting. It's a scary thing that I had to force myself to do in the beginning. Public speaking is one of people's biggest fears. This means that teachers often go into flight or fight response, and teaching can really stress the nervous system in the beginning. It's also long hours and you will find yourself teaching weekends, late nights and early mornings when you first start. I am not saying this to dissuade you. I am saying it because if you are quitting your corporate job, I want you to know what you are getting yourself into. Yes. There is an element of freedom in teaching. But if you want to make it sustainable, you also have to treat it like a career. This means passionately and relentlessly pursuing it. If you want to teach bad enough, and you are willing to do what it takes to achieve your teaching dreams, you will make it happen. 3. Reverse engineer your life. This is a big one. Plus, it's really fun (thank you Pintrest)! Consider what you want your life to look like. Here are a couple questions to get you started: 1. What are the current things that you love about your life and your job? 2. What are the three things you wish you could shift or change? 3. What do you want to feel and experience in your life? 4. What are your most important values? After you answer these questions, break down the steps you can take to achieve those things. For example, if you want to spend more time with your child, and you want to feel more connected, how many hours a week is your work week? If you want to travel and teach internationally, what are some ways you can start connecting with studios outside of your hometown? I really believe that all things are possible in life. Sometimes dreams take a little bit more work. I want to finish with a quote from the Alchemist, one of my all time favorite books. “Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second's encounter with eternity.”
― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist