Private Gigs can be Cancelled

My private gig was late on Sunday.  Okay, my private lesson was late and then cancelled.  When I received the first text requesting late, I was a little miffed, but I agreed.  When it got a lot late and I was getting hungry and ready to move on with my day – well, that’s where I found myself glad that I don’t do yoga teaching for my only means of support.

When she had requested late, she hadn’t specified how late and at the really late mark I was feeling jerked around.  My text to her at the hour late mark (I can’t believe I waited an hour), “Do you want to do this next week instead?”  For all the things I wanted to say, I kept it simple.  And nicer than I felt.

It actually really pissed me off to be hanging here waiting for somebody.  And it isn’t until just now that I can see how thoughtless, how unaccepting I am of other people’s problems.  I was thinking total jerk thoughts…okay, just for an hour maybe.  It just goes to show me that I am no angel, I am no bodhisattva, I’m no yogini.  I am just another Joesephine with an agenda.  Being a yoga-meister does not make me better, or more accepting or enlightened.  I’m still who I am.

And I am truly sorry she started her day off with a flat tire.  It’s no way to start anyone’s day.  I’m sorry she didn’t feel the need to share that with me until late.  We will try again next week.

Heat of the Sun

Heat of the Sun

It’s been cold outside.  The room we use for Friday Drop-In isn’t so wonderfully warm.  As I walked into our room yesterday I felt a hollow chill.  I am missing the sun.  It wasn’t hard to mentally change up my practice plans for the day.  Sun Salutations.  We needed sun salutations.

This is a mid-day class.  I tend to go slow.  I do a lot of explaining.  We breathe deep into our postures.  Those that can go deeper into a posture have plenty of time to do so.  I stay away from postures and pacing that is going to send anyone back to their workstation with sweaty faces or fresh body odor.  We do a quiet set of postures.  We release tension and open ourselves up to breathing.

Yesterday though, yesterday we needed to warm up this room.  I’m glad I  decided that.  Three people showed up in sweatshirts.  Two women in the group have never done yoga other than with me and we’ve not been at it very long.  So together the whole group did the first salutation while I did a lot of explanation.  I’m sure I was huffing through the inhale and exhales while I called them out.  I tried to gather my breath in Samastiti – Hand to Heart Center.  Then I let everyone know we are going to do the same motions for the other side.  This second side I shortened the cues.  I was able to breathe better.  It was good to see that everyone was keeping up.

As a group, we went through three full Sun Salutations (each side) today.  Sweatshirts came off.  There was too much activity for Resting B*tch Face to set in.  The Warrior Series was relaxing after the salutations.  I guided the group into a severely modified Flying Warrior (Virabhadrasana III) as the key posture today.  It just seemed to want to happen, as if I meant this to be the peak pose.

Seated and Floor postures suffered.  There just wasn’t any time left.  And time was already out as I guided my merry band to relax in Savasana.  I am so thankful there is no clock in that room.  More than once I have played with time to get one more thing in.  My band of merry yogis has no idea.

Savasana was pitifully short, a minute and a half, maybe.  I am not sure anyone had enough time to let go and relax plus incorporate their practice into their bodies yesterday.

Thing is, it’s all good.  As this merry band of yogis walked the hall I heard everyone mention how very relaxed they felt.  I even heard, “more than usual”.   And they were all walking comfortably as if they were actively relaxed.  I need to remember this.

Note to Self on benefits of repeated Sun Salutations:

  1. No time for Resting B*tch Face.
  2. An active relaxed mode sets in.

And everyone continues to breathe.

 

There is Always One – the Individual

I have one student, that does not follow along with the class. She’s My Individual.  She does her asanas as she wants to.  It is beyond interpreting my cues.  No, she out-right does her own sequence.

As everyone closese their eyes at the beginning of class, I have quit closing my eyes.  I need to keep them open to see what my Individual is up to.  Repeated suggestions and recommendations to place her bum higher than her ankles on a bolser or a blanket in an easy cross-legged pose just isn’t going anywhere.  Everyone else is seated on a bolster and on blankets.  My Individual is purposefully the only student to stay seated on the mat.  She likes being the only one.  I recognize it is her yoga, her way.  She also doesn’t stay seated as long as the group does.  It is all I can do to keep the pace of the class even and still be sure my Individual is in an asana nearby.

This week, after a couple of warm up moves, I was guiding the class back into child pose before we kick it up a notch.  I look up from my own child pose to see My Individual is not in a child pose at all, but is threading the needle.  I realize that she probably does like yoga and that she is very comfortable in class.  I realize that I am not progressing through the postures in the manner she would prefer. I also realize there is nothing I can say that will get her to stay with the group.  She will do what she will do when she wants to do it.

For now I have come to the conclusion that I am not the one guiding her through postures.  I am, by default, giving her a space to guide herself.  The best I can do with this one – and I have spent a couple days considering what to do with this – is to keep an eye on her to be sure she is not going to do any damage and that she is doing the postures as well as possible.

The rest of the class is absorbed in their own practice.  Some have their eyes closed.  Most are looking off into the distance, soft gazes (beautiful drsti) unaware for the most part that my Individual is checking her shoulders hard to the right and then hard to the left.  (Oh, I so want to say something)  As long as My Individual is doing well, is not disturbing the rest of the class, and continues to join us for yoga, I’m happy.  I can’t say she hasn’t caused me some concern.  There is nothing I can truly do from here.  She is happy to come to class.  I wonder that she would feel stifled in a private class.  She would probably tell me it holds her too accountable.

Now that I have resigned myself to her yoga, her way…she makes me smile.  I think yoga may be her recess.

Ain’t no big Thang

I’m supposed to write of who I am, to write from inside of me.  I am to do those things that feed my soul, that make me feel comfortable with myself and where I am.

When I guide yoga, I am always unsure.  I am unsure if I come out too strong, If I am not fun, if these postures are hurtful or too hard.  I want to look out over my students and see them in good form, better than last time.  I’m not sure they are.  I don’t know when I have done it right.

The Friday classes are only two and three times a month.  How can this possibly be helpful?  Is there ANY benefit to just three times a month?

And am I doing the thing that brings me joy.  Is joy part of learning to do this?  Is the joy in the learning?  Are the students feeling the joy?  I have had positive feedback.  Is this only because they do not want to be negative nellies?

I am told my pacing is good.  I am told the Savasana is wonderful – and so yes, we are able to leave on a good note.  I want to be better.  Just as important I want to feel good that this is in fact what I am supposed to be doing.  I like doing yoga.  I like doing yoga with people.  Am I  an instructor?  I don’t want to give this up without giving it my honest and authentic heart.  I will know if it truly fets.  Maybe I am to  be among the crowd, and not in front of the crowd.

Maybe I am too early to pass judgement on myself.  We are our own harshest critics.  This is a tough idea.  I would kick myself years from now to wathc a woman my age in front of a class, showing her insecurities and still being a teacher.  I am good at not sharing my insecurities in front of the group.    Regardless of how I feel.  I am better than some, I have more heart than many.  I can do this well, and it will cover me like a glove, a nice skin tight yoga suit to be proud of.

My life is not yoga right now.  There is too much life beyond any yoga or spritiual notion.  There is more life to live than just “on the mat” or “off the mat”.  There is more life off the mat than I will ever live on it.  I love yoga.  But, it is merely the prep time that I spend before I go on to life.

I can wear this yoga instructor well.  And I can live off the mat, and I do for gawd’s sake live it well, off the mat.  I love me my football, and my martinis and my sweet love and children.  I enjoy my job, even while I want to replace it with a yoga job.  I have dreams and aspirations of the beach house,  and friedns coming to stay the weekend, and holidays with all the family surrounding us.  I have recipes to conquer and garden’s to plant, and moon travel that I want for a birday treat.  I have my convertible, and my frequestn flyer myles and I have a list an arm long of all the places I want to visit.  There is so much life outside this yoga…that even as I write thes you must know, you must be clear that an hour on the mat every other day is a very strong practice.  Meditations for fifteen minutes every single day, every day, every one is essential for stability and dream realizations.  And it’s only fifteen minutes.  Yoga isn’t necessary for dreams to realize.  Meditation is.  Medidtaion IS essentioal to happiness.  If we don’t have time to relax and feel our happiness, there is no happy.  And happy is important in a successful life.

My life is already successful.  Yoga feels good.  Meditation reminds me that I am happy, and for all the right reasons.

Am I a yoga teacher?  I dunno, I have only just started. I wonder if I can teach happy in yoga.  Maybe I need to teach “Aint no big thang” in yoga.  I don’t teach often enough to get across any philosophy really.  Its hard to choose a philosophy in front of the mats when I don’t get in front of the mats very often.  Three times a month for the group and once on Sundays for my private patron.  We all want to have fun, to stay away from resting b*tches, to walk away from class smiling and content.

That’s all there is to it, it ain’t no big thang that we continue to breathe.

The Short Class

My most challenging class to teach is the short forty-five minutes for Friday Lunch Drop-in.  I want to do so much with this group.  There simply isn’t enough time.

We have an hour at lunch to gather our self, our whole self, into the space where we sit, relax, release and then open up our bodies during postures to hopefully include our whole body and then relax and lock in that quiet mind and refreshed body before we each go back to work.   I want desperately to give them these moments for themselves before we return to the phone calls and meetings and deadlines.  This tension and busyness (business…how interesting) outside the walls where we practice yoga seem to strain to come in and affect our effectiveness.  My task is to create the mental space for each of them to let go of time and stress.

I want to make this forty five minutes last longer.  But forty five minutes is forty five minutes.  I try to allow our Savasana to extend an additional minute, or I attempt to teach a little pranayama beyond the postures and the clock becomes imperical.  Everyone is rolling up the mats a little quicker.  It seems we barely have the time needed to get back to our areas.   I see from each person the need to scatter, undoing all we may have accomplished.  Am I doing a disservice sending every one back a minute or two later?

If I focus on the physical movements only and not the quieting and releasing of our tensions, then the tensions show in each of their postures.  That is a disservice, and it’s not yoga.

There is only time to focus on either the strength of Warriors, or the cleansing twists, or the calming yin postures – not all three.  Pick one.  Only one.

There seems to be a time when yoga classes were almost two hours long.  I loved those classes.  They certainly weren’t at a drop-in lunch program. The two hour program was pleasantly strenuous.  My arms hurt from holding Warrior poses.  My inversions such as shoulder stand always moved into a plow pose.  There was time to relax deeper into the postures.

Lunch time Drop-In courses require a different design than traditional classes.  I believe I am correct in focusing on stress release and single purpose focus.  We only meet once a week, so I cannot layout a five day program – Monday is hips, Tuesday is shoulders, Wednesday is…etc.  I have one day – one forty-five minutes – to let these folks feel their yoga.

I used to ask what did each of them want to work on.  I can tell you without asking any more.  Shoulders and neck, or “just everything”.  Mostly I see they just want to move.  If I ask them what is hurting they let me know they have sore wrists or not much strength in their wrists.  We do wrist movements and rolling.  We don’t do much holding in downward dog.  We stay away from plank and chatarangas.  We do dolphin pose, we do Eagle arms.  Everyone likes hip openers.

I have six regulars that rotate through.  I have another five people that email me regularly to tell me they will be there “next week” but never show.  They are my wanna-be’s.  Someday they will come.  Someday I will have twelve regulars that rotate through.

As a new yoga teacher, I am having trouble myself finding the time to practice fully what I want to share.  I want to change it up.  I have it in my head.  I practice it once at home.  I use notes.  From my own experience I liked the teachers that had a more or less set sequence with daily variations.  So I have my set sequence.  This week my goal is to write a fresh sequence and practice it myself at least three times, once for flow, once for time management, once to memorize it.  I hate bringing notes.  I’m five months in and I still bring notes.  My peeps need a yoga teacher that knows her stuff like the back of her hand and can continue to breathe.

Retirement and Yoga

I’ve been doing yoga since I was nineteen.  I’m 57 now.  I didn’t get my teacher training until I was 55.  My thought is that since I’ll be practicing yoga anyway, I may as well make myself useful to others.  And who knows, it may provide the supplemental income that allows me a more comfortable retirement when I get there.

I figure I am a solid ten years away from retirement.  I couldn’t tell you from here when that date will be.  I am told that retirement is most usually a bit of a surprise.  You know it’s coming but you don’t know when.  I want to have some teaching under my belt before I am in retirement.  I want to know I am doing some good.

I have been able to pick out new teachers, the not so seasoned ones.  I prefer the teachers that have some instruction time under their belt.  I want to be one of those by the time I retire.  I want to have the experience to match my greying hair.

I appreciate the new teachers.  I learn from them as a new teacher myself.  I can pick out the parts they are working on.  I can hear when the phrasing is still being cleared up.  I can see what they have mastered and are comfortable with.  It reminds me to do the same.  It reminds me to work with the poses I know to get into and out of with grace and control.  While I like to add variety, I need to be sure I can guide my group into and out of these postures and variations with knowledge and control.  I am reminded to breakdown a new posture into steps and only as far as the group is comfortable.  I am reminded to watch my students and truly see them.

I want to be a seasoned instructor by the time I retire from my full-time career job.  I want my grey hair and my solid instruction to complement each other as the strength of experience.  I am blessed to be teaching yoga at all considering all the new teachers getting their yoga certificates every day.  I am blessed and I will continue to grow in my practice and my teaching to be sure that I can continue this blessing and continue to breathe.

Insecure But Strong

I’m supposed to write of who I am, to write from inside of me.  I am to do those things that feed my soul, that make me feel comfortable with myself and where I am.

When I guide yoga, I am always unsure.  I am unsure if I come out too strong, if I am not fun, if these postures are hurtful or too hard.  I want to look out over my students and see them in good form, better than last time.  I’m not sure they are.  I don’t know when I have done it right.

The Friday classes are only two and three times a month.  How can this possibly be helpful?  Is there ANY benefit to just three times a month?

And am I doing the thing that brings me joy.  Is joy part of learning to do this?  Is the joy in the learning?  Are the students feeling the joy?  I have had positive feedback.  Is this only because they do not want to be negative nellies?  Are they only being kind to be nice?

I am told my pacing is good.  I am told Savasana is wonderful – and so yes, we are able to leave on a good note.  I want to be better.  Just as important, I want to feel good that this is in fact what I am supposed to be doing.  I like doing yoga.  I like doing yoga with people.  Am I  an instructor?  I don’t want to give this up without giving it my honest and authentic heart.  I will know if it truly fits.  Maybe I am to supposed to be among the crowd, and not in front of the crowd.

Maybe I am too early to pass judgement on myself.  We are our own harshest critics.  This is a tough idea.  I would kick myself years from now if I were to watch a woman my age in front of a class, showing her insecurities and still being a teacher.  I am good at not sharing my insecurities in front of the group.  Regardless of how I feel.  I am better than some, I have more heart than many.  I can do this well, and it will cover me like a glove, a nice skin tight yoga suit to be proud of.  Eventually.

My life is not yoga right now.  There is too much life beyond any yoga or spritiual notion.  There is more life to live than just “on the mat” or “off the mat”.  There is more life off the mat than I will ever live on it.  I love yoga.  But, it is the prep time that I spend before I go on to life.

I can wear this “yoga instructor” well.  And I can live off the mat, and I do for gawd’s sake live it well, off the mat.  I love me my football, and my martinis and my sweet love and children.  I enjoy my job, even while I want to replace it with a yoga job.  I have dreams and aspirations of the beach house,  and friends coming to stay the weekend, and holidays with all the family surrounding us.  I have recipes to conquer and garden’s to plant, and moon travel that I want for a birthday treat.  I have my convertible car, and my frequent flyer miles and I have a list an arm long of all the places I want to visit.  There is so much life outside of this yoga…that even as I write this you must know, you must be clear that an hour on the mat every other day is a very strong practice.  Meditations for fifteen minutes every single day, every day, every one is essential for stability and dream realizations.  And it’s only fifteen minutes.  Yoga isn’t necessary for dreams to realize.  Meditation is.  Meditation IS essential to happiness.  If we don’t have time to relax and feel our happiness, there is no happy.  And happy is important in a successful life.

My life is already successful.  Yoga feels good.  Meditation reminds me that I am happy, and for all the right reasons.

Am I a yoga teacher?  I dunno, I have only just started. I wonder if I can teach happy in yoga.  Maybe I need to teach “Aint no big thang” in yoga.  I don’t teach often enough to get across any philosophy really.  Its hard to choose a philosophy in front of the mats when I don’t get in front of the mats very often.  Three times a month for the group and once on Sundays for my private patron.  We all want to have fun and to walk away from class smiling and content.

That’s all there is to it, it ain’t no big thang that we continue to breathe.

Resting B*tch Face

 

I just learned this term in the last couple months since I’ve been teaching yoga.   Resting B*tch Face.   I’m not saying I haven’t seen this before.  Oh yes, I have.   I’ve even been accused of it.  I was accused of it by my mother, no less.   Years ago.  Neither my mom nor I knew there was such a term for it.  I denied having Resting B*tch Face.  I didn’t know I looked like a b*tch.  How would I know I had “that” look while I just hang out.  I find it interesting that my mom tagged it decades before it became a known issue.  Moms have a way of saying things that just cannot be denied. (dammit)

Resting B*tch Face is just that.  It is the look women have when they are not concerned how they look, when they are concentrated on other things or nothing.  I see it regularly all through class.  It is surprising to me that I am still surprised at the end of class to see people smiling and talking all with animated faces.  All through practice there is this b*tchy look on their faces. Resting B*tch face can be intimidating.

It’s good to know that men have the look too.  They have Resting A**hole Face.  I appreciate the equality of this.

It is time to change this terrible affliction.  It is time to make a concerted effort to enliven these faces.  Can I change this with facial yoga?  Will this make a difference?  Can I take on an entire affliction with an entire populace?  Can I win?  Can I get into the Great Records of Yoga Influencers (GRYI) by tackling Resting B*tch Face?  This needs to be addressed.  I am good enough for this.  I can change the world one B*tch Face at a time.

 

Words to Finish Practice

My favorite instructor always finishes practice by saying, “Thank you for allowing me to guide you in your practice today.”  I love when she says that.  I did allow her to guide me, and she does a fantastic job of it.  I can’t help but think, “thank you for guiding me”.

I have tried to say that same phrase after my classes.  I get as far as “Thank you for allowing me to guide you…” and then I trail off as if I have forgotten the words to a famous prayer.  I trail off without wanting to be obvious.   I can see some of the students smile and nod to me as if they know what I am trying to say, and they release me from having to pronounce all that I meant to say.

I suppose that, “Thank you for allowing me to guide you today.” is enough.  Usually though my thanks resides in the fact that people even came to my class.  From that aspect my finish remark could easily be, “Thank you for joining me for yoga today.’

I want to offer that “I hope you enjoyed a good practice.”  But that doesn’t even read right. “I hope your practice was good.”  If I have been watching the class I would know how the class was perceived, now wouldn’t I?

I am grateful that people come to my classes.  I am grateful that they express an interest.  When I started hosting yoga classes I nicknamed it “Yoga with Friends”.  If I stick with this theme for a little while longer, and I expect to, my salutation can easily be “Thank you for joining me today.”  Simple seems better.  Enough said.

Instruction is Not Practice for Myself

The name for my yoga business is “Yoga with Friends”.  Being a yoga instructor has kind of changed all that, but I still like the name.  The intention was that I would have friends to do yoga with.  I now see that my own yoga practice is not actually available while I am guiding others.  To be the instructor I find I am demonstrating the posture and then scanning the group for alignment and facial expressions.  While I breathe into a posture, it is more for show than to actually feel the deepening for myself.  I don’t know why I thought being a yoga teacher would allow me to do more yoga (and be paid for it).  I still have to carve out time in my day for my own practice.

I see that even more now that I am instructing others I need to kick it up a notch for my own practice.  I am a better guide in class when I have myself well-grounded.  Yoga with Friends has morphed as I am shifting my focus to the friends in front of me.  In my classes I am doing yoga for friends more than with friends.  No, I don’t expect to change the name.  It will stay Yoga with Friends.

Yoga teachers still take yoga classes.  I spend more time in classes than I do teaching yoga to others.  Of course, I am a better teacher for it.  Some classes I take for myself, to deepen my own practice.  Some classes I like to go to because they have sequencing or cueing that helps me guide the people in my classes.  Either way it is a compliment to all of my teachers that they help me be a better instructor.

The more advanced classes, Level II, I enjoy for my own stretching.  The Level I classes and All Level classes I like for the review (again and again) of the basics.

When teaching a class I have to take into account the lowest common denominator.  The person that is new to yoga has to be my main focus.  Everyone that knows what a Sun Salutation is knows how to follow along.  For those new to yoga I repeat the sequence, the alignment cues, the left and right of the postures.  For the comfort of everyone I do not allow myself to go any deeper into a pose than the least flexible person in the room.  I take that back, I do go deeper and I show the next fullest expression of the posture for those that are ready to try that added benefit.  Then I come back to the level of the newest member and keep my eyes on the group.

People don’t want to admit to not knowing the postures.  I can tell who they are.  It’s okay, there’s usually more than one person that is trying something for the first time.  I have to keep it slow, basic, informed.  We all end together regardless of the level of experience.  And we continue to breath.