I am so honored to have been chosen as a Featured Teacher on the wonderful website Teacher Goes Back To School. (Click the link to read the interview.) If you’ve ever wondered how this wild rebel got into the Yoga game, or what my classes are really like, this is the interview to read. Thank you to Tami Hackbarth for giving me the forum to speak my truth. Much love to you, sister and, if I may say so, word to YOUR mother!
Yesterday, I posted this picture on my Facebook page. I have seen it before and I’m sure I’ll see it again. I thought twice about posting it because, well, because it’s incendiary and rather abrupt. Hmmm. Sounds kind of like me, eh? Yeah yeah yeah. Anyway, I did end up posting it and there was a brief discussion that followed and it really got me to thinking about a lot of things that go on in a yoga class as I see it as both a student and a teacher. I started listing a few things in my mind, a code of conduct, if you will, about what should and should not happen in a yoga class. Again, I refer to the Disclaimer page – my views are my own and not necessarily those of anyone else. I’m totally okay with other teachers or students (aren’t we both?) feeling differently. That said, this is my blog and here are a few of the rules as I see them.
- DO NOT LEAVE DURING SAVASANA – see notes. First of all, let me say that the idea of walking out during Savasana makes my brain bleed. It’s just not something I would ever think of doing. I mean, I’d do that just as readily as I would jump up and shout “BOB WILLS IS STILL THE KING” during a funeral or something. It’s just not something to be done! It’s disrespectful, it’s rude, and it totally throws people for a loop. Folks are just starting to get into their space, the teacher is totally trying to set a mood and hold the space, and when someone walks by your head or slams the door, or disturbs the peace, it… well, it disturbs the peace. Most importantly, however, Savasana is the most important part of the practice! It’s when the mind reaps the benefits of the body’s work. It is when the yoga becomes not just something you do, but who you are! Leaving in the middle of it hurts everyone. That said… NOTES: I get it. Sometimes you HAVE to leave. You might have a job to get to, a child who needs picked up, a doctor’s appointment … whatever. I’m not unrealistic – life happens. And honestly, I’d rather have you in class for 90% of it than none of it – your energy matters!! If you have to leave, it is a good idea to tell your teacher before class that you will be leaving. It helps if you know what time you will be leaving because she or he can then let you know when you need to go so you won’t be rushed. And here’s the thing – the teacher will tell you before Savasana because, if you have to leave, please leave before anyone closes their eyes. If you have time for a 3 minute Savasana but not a full 7 minute Savasana, perhaps consider going to the lounge or at least closer to the door for you Savasana so you don’t have to walk over / around others who are trying to bliss out. If you are using studio props, just leave them on the floor. The teacher will gladly pick them up for you after class. Please leave silently. Hold the door until it is fully closed so that it doesn’t bang upon your exit. Please keep your phone silent until you’ve reached the parking lot. Please respect what is still going on. Again, I know life happens and I’d rather students be there for part of it rather than none of it, but it is possible to leave nicely. I have a student who, because of her job, has left nearly every single class for the last 18 months early. She has never once disrupted class. She is silent, respectful, and always manages to catch my eye, bow, and mouth “Namaste” to me as she leaves. GOLD STANDARD right there. To that end ….
- BEGIN AND END ON TIME. I have been guilty of this. OH yes, I have been guilty. Sometimes the energy is just too, too good to wrap up. Sometimes a discussion gets started and time slips by. Sometimes … well, sometimes doesn’t matter. Going over is just as rude and disrespectful (to the students and to the teacher who is teaching next) as leaving before the finale. There have been times when I could tell that I was going to go over. When I have been aware of it heading that direction, I have sometimes said, “It looks like we are running a little long. If you need to be out of here by our stated ending time, I will alert you to that 10 minutes prior. If you can stay, please stay.” It goes a long way to easing that cramped, rushed feeling. Still, though, it ain’t cool, man. To all of my students, let this be my public apology: I am sorry I have taken advantage of your time. I am sorry I wasn’t respectful of your schedule and your lives away from the mat. I will make every effort to not let that happen again. Thank you for staying with me thus far. (For the record, I made a vow Sunday night to end on time. Yesterday, both my classes ended within 90 seconds of stated time. BOOM!)
- NO SHOES ON THE STUDIO FLOOR, PLEASE. Again, I have been guilty of this. And I do know that, on occasion, a studio might be used for something other than yoga and it’s possible that those instances might require footwear. If you are coming to take a yoga class, however, know that taking your shoes off before you walk on the floor is about more than not tracking dirt in. We take our shoes off to be closer to the earth. We take our shoes off as a symbol of all coming from the same place. We take our shoes off as a sign of humbleness and simplicity. And, not as symbolic but equally important, many people sit in meditation before practice. Clomping across the floor sends freaky vibrations.
- IT IS OKAY TO GO TO THE BATHROOM. Yoga is about self love and self-care. This isn’t first grade. You don’t have to ask permission to get up, to get a drink of water, to go to the bathroom. Please be comfortable. Please don’t do the pee-pee dance during Utkatasana. Please get a drink of water. Please get up to get a tissue. Please – it’s your studio, too. Just try to not knock someone in Natarajasana over as you pass by.
- BRING WATER. Okay, again, there are some classes in which you wouldn’t bring water (this is unimaginable to me as leaving in Savasana, but whatever.) Water is so vital! Yoga detoxes you. It releases pent up junk locked in organs and cells and joints and tissues. It needs to be flushed out or else you just reabsorb all the goo! If you are taking a class in which you’re likely to get sweaty (Ashtanga, Ashtanga – Vinyasa, Power, Acro, and for Elvis’s sake, Bikram, etc.) you will be dehydrating as you go. This is NO GOOD! Please please please bring water. Sip it often (except in Bikram, but as I’ve said before, I just don’t get that dude.) Drink it up, please! And not only while you’re in class. Drink it all day! You’re going to need to replenish and rehydrate. Believe me, you might not notice right away, but it will catch up to you. The last thing you want is to be feeling great and going out about town 3 hours after class and then fall to your knees because you didn’t drink you water. Drink it up!
- BE GENTLE with yourselves, with your teacher, with others. Everyone has an “off” day now and then. Don’t get stymied by it. Remember, we’re all just walking each other home. We’re all going to trip now and then. Be kind. Be loving. Be gracious. Be generous. Be gentle. And most of all …
I’m about to show you something so amazing it will blow your mind. Just try to hold yourselves together long enough to read all the way to the end.
Okay, so I already have those. I might also like to have these:
Have you picked your jaw up off the floor yet?
These are the amazing tie-dyed yoga pants by Shining Shakti. They are amazing! They don’t just look fabulous, they *behave* fabulously. I am not going to lie – I’m really hard on my yoga pants. I don’t always wash them separately, I don’t hand wash anything, occasionally my husband or my children will put stuff in the dryer that has no business being there. I have a large dog who likes to practice with me – sometimes ON me. I teach a minimum of 5 classes a week. I am not the Martha Stewart of yoga pants, know what I’m saying? And yet, these hand-dyed, organic cotton pants never ever let me down!
Check it out:
I am short. Really short. Even when I buy things in petite, I often have to have them altered. When I got my first pair of Shining Shakti pants, I cut 3 inches off the bottom, but couldn’t wait to wear them, so I taught in them without hemming them first. Then I forgot to hem them. Then I washed them with all my jeans. Guess what? They didn’t fray. Not one single snaggle thread to be found. NOT ONE. Not only did they not fray….
They do not bleed! I have the Moonbow and the Jezebel and, as I mentioned before, they don’t always get the best laundering. They have been washed with towels, jeans, dresses, bras, and yes, even *gasp* whites and guess what? NO COLOR BLEEDING. They are just as bright and vibrant as the day they arrived and so are all the other clothes who have played water twister with them in the machine. Oh yes, I said “machine!” No hand washing required!
They just feel so dang good! They support and hold you in where you want to be supported and held in, but never ever leave you feeling like a sausage! It is incredibly easy to move in these pants – nothing creeps up, nothing falls down, and nary a camel toe in sight.
In this day and age of craptastic customer service, Shining Shakti stands apart. The first pair I ordered arrived in the wrong size. I called and spoke to Rachel who assured me that they’d fix the error immediately. Now, for most companies, immediately means “whenever we stop watching True Blood and feel like getting around to it.” Not Shining Shakti! Nope. Within 30 seconds of hanging up, there was a prepaid return shipment label in my inbox. Less than 48 hours later, I was holding the correct size in my eager little hands. Seriously. 48 hours! Now, okay, I do live in the state next to them, so it might take a bit longer if you live on the coasts, but STILL… that’s pretty damn fast.
And finally — they are really affordable! At most, they are $69. I’m a very thrifty yogini. I don’t spend that kind of money on clothes, it’s just not in my budget. That said, yoga is my career and it does require some investment, so I might branch out and get some pricier yoga clothes. I have purchased more expensive yoga pants and, honestly, I hated them. They don’t fit right. They fade. They feel odd. Just … yeah, just not my style. Shining Shakti, however, are absolutely positively perfect in each and every way and are worth every red cent. But wait, there’s more! They are often on sale! Yes, the magic “S” word! They have loads of sales! Friend them on Facebook and you’ll get the scoop!
No more solid black dreary yoga pants. No more saggy butts and hungry camel toes. No more split seams and pilled thighs. NO MORE, I say! It’s a yoga pants revolution, folks, and Shining Shakti is leading the way. Be a part of it!
(and if you’re lamenting missing my birthday, I take a size Medium. 😉 )
Sarah says she’s been hearing a whole lotta, “Atma-what?!” lately, and suggested that I might take a few minutes to clarify what Atma-Jayam is all about. So, here I go.
My name is Megan Hall, and the style of Yoga that I love, that I most often practice, and that I teach, is called Atma-Jayam or Self-Victory, which is a just the condensed way to say, do as much or as little as you feel able, and feel great about it. Victorious even.
Which is really pretty standard for any style of Yoga, right? Right. But it can be a little intimidating to walk into your first Yoga class, and sometimes that fear might cause you to take poses further than you should, faster than you should, even when the teacher is encouraging you to go at your own pace and listen to your body, I speak from experience. Nobody wants to look like the only beginner in class. I believe that Atma-Jayam’s main goal is the elimination of that fear.
I first discovered Atma-Jayam while attending Columbia College in early 2000 as a night student in the Education program. This groovy old dude, DH, started offering a class. I had used tapes and books to try Yoga before, but I had never been to a class. Always wanted to though! I went to the very first class he offered, and it was an hour of pure and simple bliss. When it was over I marveled at the fact that for an entire hour, I had thought of nothing more than my inhale, my exhale, my arms, my legs, my lungs, and my spine, and everything else had just floated away with my breath. After that, I was hooked, I went twice a week every week for three years, and when I couldn’t go to class and share that restorative energy with others, I practiced at home on my own.
Atma-Jayam is unique in its simplicity. In an hour together, we will slowly and gently open and stretch every part of our bodies so that we increase the circulation to every part of our bodies. We will breathe as slowly and deeply as we are able so that we increase the level of oxygen in our blood.
Atma-Jayam utilizes only the simplest and most beneficial asanas, and I can always give you either a modified pose or an alternate pose if something isn’t working for you. I can even modify any of the standing postures I use, with the exception of the balance, to be done seated on a chair or a bench.
We practice nearly the same set of poses every time we are together (I tend to vary a few of the asanas here and there, so that you have choices and can make your practice your own). By practicing the same set of postures we simplify the process for our body and mind, the things we want to happen, the benefits we wish to receive, become more efficient through repetition. The mix of postures becomes a recipe for your health and you can take it with you wherever you go.
We move slowly into and out of each pose. We hold each pose for several breaths to allow the mind and the body to do their work. And we take a teensy little break in between each pose. Comfort is always our first priority, and really the only hard and fast rule of AJ.
Now, I’m not a real talky-talk Yoga instructor. Don’t get me wrong, I will tell you all I can about what we’re doing and why we’re doing it, and I totally love being in a class where the teacher is telling me all about my chakras and my third eye, but that’s not me, at least not yet. Some of the metaphysical aspects of Yoga are just branches of the tree that I have yet to explore. I’m still a baby Yogi; so to speak, I’ve only been at this for about 11 years. But I’m growing in the sun now, baby!
I’m really excited about starting my class at Yoga Sol and to be surrounded by such an awe-inspiring group of Yoginis. I feel like smearing on a little SPF 30 and soaking it all in! I hope you will give Atma-Jayam a try, I think you’ll love it.
So if you have ever attended or observed a Yoga class or tried a DVD with Rodney Yi and thought, “Nope, not for me.” If you have no intention of ever standing on your head or balancing on your arms, or if you totally intend to stand on your head and balance on your arms some day, but need a super easy place to start. Or if you don’t know where you want to go with Yoga, but need a safe place to start. If you have lost some flexibility, or never had it in the first place. If you ever hurt yourself practicing Yoga and need to learn how to slow down or get back to basics. If you are scared to death to try a Yoga class, but people keep telling you that you need it. If you think you are too old or out of shape to practice Yoga. If you have chronic pain of any kind and would like even a little relief from it. If you are stressed beyond belief and just need a place to relax and let go before you have a stroke. If you are recovering from illness or injury, suffering from arthritis, living with depression, high blood pressure, or any other thing that slows you down, you should give Atma-Jayam a try.
I’ll be down at Yoga Sol on Fridays from 2-3 pm. I hope you’ll be there with me. Namaste.
Check out Megan’s class at Yoga Sol, 210 St James Street in the North Arts District of Columbia, MO. You’ll be happy happy happy that you did! ~Sarah
And no, they are not raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens. My husband is allergic to cats, so that would create some tension. I like roses in my house and if there’s raindrops on them, I’ve got big ol’ issues.
I’m talking about lovely little goodies for the Yoga Minded that you can pick up here and there for little money. Give a little, get a lot. Please be sure to pass it on. Buy one for you and buy one for a friend. It’s good for your Karma.
In NO particular order:
My dear sister friend, Bea, gave me the most amazing birthday gifts. I LOVE them and want you all to check them out and pass them on. First of all, she got me a great, sassy, HUGE reusable bag from Envirosax. I love it! It rolls up and I carry it in my purse (which, interestestingly enough, is much smaller than this awesome bag!) Take yours everywhere. Target stores will give you 5 cents off your purchase just by bringing in your own bag! Do the right thing – bring your own bag.
Bea also gave me an incredible art print from Papaya Art. It is whimsical, meaningful, and thoughtful. Called Atomic Girl, this powerhouse reminds me to be ME.
I have tried and tried and tried to find a link to the stunning necklace I got from Polly, but I cannot find it. It’s perfect and beautiful and I can wear it while teaching yoga. Made with Fair Trade practices, it’s beautiful to the soul as well as to the eye. Remember, you are voting with your dollars – make it count and buy mindfully.
And how about some new music? Would you like some new music? Have I got treats for you!
How about ..
And what about when Happy Hour rolls around? Yes, we yogi(ni)s occasionally get off the mat and want to have a beverage. It doesn’t happen often and not to excess, but we’re not above a good drink. To that end, try this out:
Ah yes, the joys of starting a new blog. Let me start off by saying right here and now that I make no promises of blogging regularly. I can promise that I will try. I also make no promises of saying anything noteworthy, entertaining, educational, or even correctly spelled.
What I can promise is this:
What you see is what you get. I’m a real deal kind of gal, faults and all. That means honesty (Satya) to the best of my ability.
I will make mistakes.
I will say things that are misunderstood.
I will probably cuss. Maybe a lot.
I will share my honest experiences as I make my way through life as a Yoga teacher and student.
I will share what I learn – about life, love, yoga, myself, products, books, people, and how to work the freaking stereo system in a zillion different locations because none of them work the same way. /endrant
If you’re a yogi and have a website, I’ll add you to the blog roll. Just let me know.
So, until next time
Be well, Be real, Be YOU.