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.

The Friend Effect

In my lifetime I have seen people become friends simply by spending time together.  That’s all it takes.  There may be no other “thing” in common, only the time we spend together, yet quite naturally we become friends.  Things in common will increase with the amount of time we spend together.  I suppose it is a no-brainer, yet I am always a little surprised to realize we have become friends.

There is a Friend Effect going on with the Friday group.  Every week now as we get together, once a week is all, just one and now several of the group hang back while each person cleans their mat and rolls it up.  They wait for each other as shoes are put back on.  The chatting I overhear is both job related and weekend related.  They leave the room in subsets, little groups.

This week the whole group waited for me before anyone left the room.  I put the room back the way it was when I came in.  I roll the cart of mats, straps and cleaner into the closet and close it back again.  This is a multi-purpose room.  I re-set the lighting back to how we found it as well.  I grab the bundle of used towels to drop them in the soiled linens bin.  I look around for left articles from my group or myself.  I just never hurry leaving the room.  I kind of relish the time.  I like feeling responsible for getting everything back as it was.  So for the group, en masse, to be waiting for me was flattering.

I didn’t notice at first.  Everyone was chatting as they do.  I asked a question for clarification is all.  The talk continued around me as I took care of business.  I was half listening.  As we all walked down the hall together is when I realized they had waited for me.  I felt part of the group.

I suppose it was bound to happen.  We see each other once a week.  I put the room back together for the next group without even thinking about it these days. In other words, I wasn’t asking to be included.  It was organic and I am feeling rather blessed today while we continued to breathe.

What is in a Certificate?

The minimum certification for a trained yoga teacher is the RYT200 Yoga Alliance Certification.  It states that the individual had completed a 200 hour course of training; an RYT – Registered Yoga Training.  There are a lot of good teachers out there with no formal or registered training.  They are good because they do the work, or they’ve been teaching far longer than a training program has been certified.

I still find myself looking at Bio’s of teachers at studios I want to visit for the highest trained individual, or the one with the most interesting training.  My training isn’t that interesting.  It is for me, but I’m not sure that translates into an interesting Bio to anyone else.  That’s a separate blog posting, “Writing my Bio”.  I haven’t written it yet.  The Bio or the post.

I have the 200 hour registered yoga teaching certificate.  I was looking into what it takes to get the next designation.  What will it take for me to be considered above this level?  What is my commitment at this point?  It’s a time commitment AND a financial committment.  Does anyone understand that these designations are running around $3,500 USD each at this time?

There seem to be two designations directly available to me as the next step to be a wise and wonderful yogi.  One is the RYT 500.  The other is the E-RYT 200.  It seems I can carry both designations if I want to.

The RYT 500 is pretty straight forward.  Its 500 hours (total) of Yoga Teacher Training.  I have 200 already, this designation only takes 300 more training hours.  I don’t know how much that will cost, but it will.  Two other requirements must be met.  I will need to complete and record one hundred hours of teaching, for one.  The other is an upgrade fee.  Not too expensive, but yep, more money.  If we can’t make money on yoga why are we promoting it?

The E-RYT 200 is the other designation.  E stands for experience.  For this designation I must complete 1,000 teaching hours.  I’ve been teaching weekly now for about six months.  But not every week as the room isn’t available for the Friday group on occasion or my private lesson gig goes on vacation.   I have not reached 100 hours yet.  For every single class, without fail, both private and group, I am learning so very much about the people I am working with.  I am learning about reactions and needs and expectations of people.  I am learning about the response of our bodies – not just mine any more.  It is such an honor and privilege to guide every one of them.  1,000 teaching hours is training that reaches above regular yogi classroom hours.  I would be proud to hold the E-RYT 200 designation.  Sure there’s an additional fee, and sure I need to be a registered teacher for 2 years.  I’m getting closer to the two year mark every day.

A thousand hours is a long time coming.  Today, as I type this, I have 38 hours on the books.  That’s it.  Six months for less than 40 hours.  A thousand hours is huge from here.  If I double my teaching hours next year I could potentially be around 220 hours for both years.  That 1,000 hours of teaching is seven to eight years away from me.  Well yeah, I will want to pick up more teaching gigs; as I get better at this.  These first hours are so unsure, or still so new and I am feeling too fresh still.

E-RYT – Experienced.  Let’s see how long this takes me.  Let’s see what I can learn along the way.

Why I am Not an Expert Yet

There is more to life than yoga.  I know…blasphemy.

Like most folks I know I have a hard time turning off the television.  If the television is off then my computer is on.   Usually they are both active, television and the internet.  Nothing is as hungry for taking up my time as internet.   I am in constant contact with media and advertising and brain-washing…I know better than to kid myself.  I’m not going to tell you that my personal media immersion is all from PBS and self-betterment sites.  I’ve had my fill of self-improvement affliction.  Still, I do love me some TedTalks,  I like just as well peeking in on my family and friends on Facebook.  If I would get off these media sites and power down I would be a whole lot closer to being a yoga expert.  Or an expert on anything for that matter.

I’m almost an expert at fishing.  When I am powered down I am probably out on the boat, fishing.  I would be an expert at fishing, but that is nonsensical.  Only fish are expert at fishing.

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.

Self-Serving Blog of Learning

I’m supposed to be non-self-serving in my goal as yogini and instructor.

But all life is self-serving?  I like hosting class.  I love the feeling when my students praise me for a particularly good set.  I worry about how to make each class better for my students and myself.

There is a lot of chatter out there regarding showing humility, and to take myself out of the equation.  Are we crazy?  The only constant in this equation is me.  This is not narcissism, this is my blog.  These are the issues I am learning through.  These are my moments of growth.  Growth is better held when it is recognized.  I will not be a good yoga instructor without some self-analysis and consideration.

I can understand that this blog can be picked apart and tossed into the gutter in front of any yogi shrine.  I do not write this for someone’s editorial mastication.  I write this to explore my own journey.  It’s okay to be a beginner.  My body and my mind are only what they are at the time that they are.  Release, let go, enjoy.

I am seeking to be a strong, stable, knowledgeable and compassionate yoga instructor.  That’s it.  I am seeking to be my best.  I am too old to worry about being humble.  When good things happen I am pleased to be able to share.  Successes are so much easier and nicer to celebrate than our challenges.  I do not write so that readers can denigrate me with their own insecurities.  I write to dispel my insecurities –thereby making me a better instructor.

The first time I tied my shoes, the first time I rode my bike, the first time I solo’d a class, the first time I assisted with touch.  These are all huge, and they are still nothing.  They are each required to get on with life or yoga instruction.  As a Buddhist I expect to always have a seeking mind.  Whether my reader can see the seeking, is in the eye of my reader (whom I appreciate).  This is not a blog of knowledge, this is a blog of learning.  This is my blog of baby-steps to something even better down the road.  This is a new road for me.  I’m having a blast and I am still breathing.

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.

Yogini Insurance

I think insurance is a pretty good racket.  If I’d been smarter I would have become an insurance agent when I was younger.  I’d be rolling in it by now.

So, yep, I bought insurance as a Yoga Trainer.  I have a good ol’ General and Professional Liability Insurance policy.  I could afford it, so I bought it.  What I bought was peace of mind.  I don’t ever expect anyone to contact me to file a claim.  The amount insured per occurrence should keep any attorney happy enough s/he won’t need to sue me directly. They can go through my insurance company lawyers.  I think that is what I am paying for anyway.

I teach less than six hours per week right now.  I expect that will continue for the next year.  I expect that in this next year my student base will double.  I’m hoping so.  That expectation is based on my idea, my hope that I will be getting better as an instructor and more people will want to come see me.  Even as my student base grows I will still be teaching less than six hours per week.  This makes for a lower premium price on my liability coverage.

The other reason my premium is so low is that I do request a Liability Waiver from my students.  I found one online and edited it for my purposes.  I may never need these things.  But I like having a folder of waivers available.  I numbered them so I can go in sometime and see how many people I have guided along the way.  It’s a pitiful number right now.

I bought peace of mind.  I expect I’ll buy it again for next year.

Devil in the Details