Category Archives: teaching

WTF, TCB, IKR, TSAFP, and ILY: the Alphabet Soup of My Life

Standard

I have been thinking about writing here for a while, but just haven’t been able to make myself do it since November.  It’s been an interesting couple of months.  Life is surprising and wonderful things pop up where you least expect them that can turn your life around most profoundly, but regardless of how wonderful these things might be, change takes time to process and there’s a whole lot of “what the fuck” that goes along with it.  Life moves forward and you gotta roll with it.  You have to take care of business.  Sometimes it’s exciting, sometimes it’s frustrating, and sometimes it’s just so mind-numbingly stupid all you can do is look around and the closest equally bewildered person and say, “I know, right?”  It gets overwhelming, this thing called life.  It’s not always easy.  Sometimes it’s ice-pick through your pupil painful.  It can be wildly unfair.  It can hurt.  It can be depressing as often as it’s wonderful.  Here’s the thing: this shit ain’t for pussies.  Figuring it out can be the hardest thing until you realize that there really is nothing to figure out at all because the minute you figure it out, things change.  Everything is in constant flux.  Just when you think that you’ve found your solid footing, guess what?  That damn rug gets pulled out from under you again.  Better to just learn to float.  And that is when the only real thing that matters are 3 words: I love you.  Saying them to someone.  Hearing them from someone.  Saying them to yourself.  Whatever. I love you is the same as Thank you, but kind of squishier and fuzzier and, well, you know.

My life has fallen into these 5 categories.  I know it’s been a long long time since I’ve been here, so here’s a run down of some of what has been filling the categories of my days.

WTF

When we bought this house 11 years ago and started packing up our stuff to move, I came across a box of my hold high school stuff. I was ready to throw the whole thing out unopened, but Brian insisted we go through it.  Inside I found programs from operettas, old notes, pictures, the publications that had my poetry in them, senior pictures of my friends, my diploma, a high school memory book and assorted other flotsam and jetsam.  The memory book was barely filled out – even then I wasn’t the type of person to get too sentimental about that kind of stuff – but there were a few things written in it from friends.  I found it funny that probably 60% of the people mentioned my “funky style.”  I thought back.  While I certainly didn’t think it as particularly odd at the time, I suppose I did have my own flair.  I was almost always in jeans, white v-neck tshirt, flannel, and combat boots like most of my friends.  The only difference is that I would wear that outfit with pearls and with my long hair in a french twist.  Or I would wear a fancy dress with an army jacket, little black dresses with neon tights, flowered shorts with actual bowling shoes I stole from the local bowling alley.  Okay, my boyfriend stole them, but whatever.  I was also one of the first people in my crowd to have a tattoo.  In 1993, kids didn’t have tattoos.  I felt very comfortable in my skin and my clothes, but I got lots of “what the fuck” back then and now, 21 years later, I’m getting it again.  While my youngest son now wears my Doc Marten boots and I no longer wear an army jacket, I am still expressing myself visually.  I got my tongue pierced.  I got my septum pierced.  I got a full chest piece tattoo.  (You can see all this stuff on my Instagram.) They all mean something very important to me and I love each one of these new pieces, but it seems that folks wonder WTF has happened to me.  The answer is simple: Everything and nothing.  I am still the same person I always was.  And I change every day.  It makes me do my own version of wtf: what the fuck does it matter to you?  Maybe I’m a little sensitive.

I wrote not too long ago about an event that shook my little family of three to the core.  While that event got squared away, it spawned some other WTF moments.  One of the people who perpetrated the original awfulness decided to sue me.  It was the most outlandish, egregious, poorly thought out decisions I have ever experienced first hand.  There are a few people who know the details, which I will not expound upon here, and all of us collectively shouted to the world, “WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK???”  This time, my sweet kiddos got in on the act and actually contacted and shook some sense into this person and the lawsuit was dropped rather quickly, but let this be a lesson to you all: crazy is as crazy does.

My girl dog, Audrey, has decided that she gets to get on the furniture now.  We’ve had her 2.5 years and she never got on the furniture before, but now she does.  WTF?

My main tv remote no longer controls the volume nor the power.  WTF?

I bought a new vacuum and love it more than any other appliance.  WTF?  (okay, maybe I have changed.  A little.)

TCB

I have been feeling the need to make some professional changes in my life for a few years.  Yes, it’s been a long long long time coming, but today I took the final step.  I am no longer involved in any of the managerial or secretarial duties at Yoga Sol.  I just teach and I have to say that, while it was a wonderful run and I’m grateful for the experience, I’m relieved to have scaled back.  The person who replaced me is doing a much better job than I did. It’s better for the studio, and it’s most assuredly better for me, as well.  Teaching will always feed my soul and I couldn’t function without it.  I’m grateful to be able to focus on that fully.

While I haven’t been writing here, I have been writing.  I am spending quite a bit of time on my other love: live music.  I’ve been blessed to fall into ranks with a community that supports, creates, and promotes real musicians doing genius stuff independently from huge labels.  I have been attending shows, interviewing artists, laughing and dancing and writing and living and … wow, it’s so much fun!  You can find interviews I’ve done over at MoonRunners Country and I look forward to more experiences coming up.  These people I have met have become my family and I couldn’t be happier nor prouder of my association with them.

IKR

It’s fucking cold and I fear Spring will never arrive. I could go on about other things, but that particular item has me so depressed that everything else doesn’t matter.

TSAFP (in which I violate the TSAFP code.)

A few years ago, two of my best girlfriends and I sat down at a coffee shop to discuss a rather unpleasant happening in one of their lives.  “Rather unpleasant” is putting it mildly, but discretion being the better part of valor and all, I’ll leave it at that.  While there wasn’t a solution then (and there isn’t a solution now,) we pretty much summed up the whole experience by saying This Shit Ain’t For Pussies.  Sorry ladies, I just released the code out into the world.

While I have learned over the years to not take on the troubles of others, I am a very compassionate and empathetic person.  Some of the people I feel closest to in the whole world are dealing with some serious stuff right now: addiction, domestic abuse, mental illness, divorce, declining health of elderly parents, poverty, serious physical injury, abandonment… it’s all really heavy stuff.  There isn’t much I can do but care, and oh, how I care!  Having been to the bottom and having pulled myself part of the way up, I relate to how hard things can be.  This Shit Ain’t For Pussies, but I’m with you.  I care.  I’m here.

ILY

Every single morning, when I walk out of my bedroom, I am greeted before I even make it to the bathroom by love.  Zeus, the puppy, stands up on his hind legs, puts his paws on my shoulders, and hugs me.  That’s 89 lbs of puppy love.  At least he has learned to jump higher than my bladder.  A few minutes later (after I’ve taken care of pressing matters,) my oldest child puts a cup of coffee into my hand (coffee that he doesn’t drink, but makes for me every single day,)  and kisses my forehead.  He’s taller than me now, and it’s funny how the role has been reversed.  “Good morning, Mom!  How were your sleeps? (a throwback to our conversations when he was a tiny one.) Did you have good dreams?”  I ask him what he has been reading that morning and tell him what our plan for the day is.  A little while later, the youngest comes out.  He sleeps a lot these days – growing so fast is tiring work.  Some days I’m lucky – some days he will still curl on my lap for a snuggle.  Other days, he kisses my cheek and stumbles, bleary eyed, into the kitchen to get his own breakfast.  He’ll usually bring me a glass of juice.  We talk a bit as they eat and eat and eat (teenagers!) About the time I pour my 2nd or 3rd cup of coffee, I either send or receive a “Good Morning” text to or from a person who fills many of my thoughts.  The last text of the day and the first text of the morning is usually interacting with this person and it’s a heartwarming feeling.

I go about my day, working on the kids homeschooling projects, making meals, making plans, making the most out of every minute.  I look at the calendar and see who is coming into town, which concert is next, what article is due.  Emails, Facebook, Instagram, each one filled with something that makes me smile.  Dog kisses, fresh warm laundry, the perfect cup of chai tea, lunch with a friend, memories flashing like shooting stars, music so raw and so pure it makes me have to remember to breathe.  Old friends and new friends texting, calling, checking in or asking me if I want or need to check out for awhile with them.  Asking “how are you?” and really meaning it and knowing that the people who ask me the same really mean it, too.  Impromptu dance parties with my littles who are far from little anymore.

I cannot count the number of times a day I say or I hear “I love you.”

When it all boils down to it, those are the only letters of the alphabet that matter.

Advertisements

Featured Teacher

Standard

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!

Hangover

Standard

We’ve all been there at one point in time or another.  Waking up and peeling your eyelids open and wondering at what point during the previous night did you eat a cat.  The light hurts, your stomach spins, and you pray to whatever you believe in that, if you could just hold onto the bed long enough to keep the world from spinning, you’ll never ever have another night like the one before. Until you do.

We often think of hangovers just in terms of alcohol consumption, but the reality is that we more often that not have hangovers that have nothing at all to do with booze.  We have mental hangovers, emotional hangovers, anxiety hangovers, trauma hangovers.  Those hangovers, believe me, are just as much of a bitch as the happy juice kind, maybe even more so because alka seltzer, a nap, and a greasy cheeseburger don’t do a damn thing to help them.

They say “hair of the dog” is what will cure you when you’ve had too much booze.  You know, the whole concept of “what got you in will get you out.”  Not so with the other kinds of hangovers.  While we might do things that feel or sound good or appropriate at the time, eventually the moment of reckoning comes and all we’re left with is doubt, guilt, shame, anger, anxiety, fear, or any combination of those.  In those circumstances, doing what got you there most certainly will NOT get you out, it will only get you in deeper.  It can be a horrible cycle of trying to explain things and that only makes things worse.  Kind of like when someone doesn’t understand what you’re saying, it does no good to clear up the situation by simply repeating yourself over and over again or, my personal favorite, saying the same things LOUDER.

For years, I have taught “hangover yoga” the day after traditional days of celebration: New Year’s Day, Cinco de Mayo, St. Patrick’s Day, Homecoming, Halloween, etc.  Those classes were centered around asana that would cleanse the body of toxins, lots of twists, pranayama, forward folds, gentle inversions.  About 6 weeks ago, I realized that we all need to detox from our emotional and mental hangovers as well.  We need to learn to stop beating ourselves up over and over again.  We need to let go of the shame or anger we feel for ourselves or for others.  We need to let go of the poison.  We need, in other words, to get the toxic shit out of us so that we can forgive and move on.  I can’t speak for anyone else, but forgiving myself is the hardest thing in the world to do.  I often do things in the heat of the moment that cause me to feel shame or regret the next day or next week or next whatever.  It sucks.  It REALLY sucks and I have long moments of absolutely hating myself for it, but you know what?  We all do that.  We all do that because we are human.

1378623_10153428801170192_1386442562_nOddly, it’s not the original act that hurts us the most, it’s the squirrel cage circular thinking that does the most damage. There is a basic tenet of yoga called Ahimsa which essential means Do No Harm.  Listen, like I said, we’re human.  We’re going to fuck up.  The sooner we accept that, the better we’ll all be.  BUT here’s the thing, we don’t have to keep harming ourselves over our fuck ups.  We don’t have to make the situation worse on ourselves by reliving our mistakes over and over again.  We don’t need to keep beating ourselves up.  If we keep ourselves filled with shame, there is no room for acceptance.  And if there is no room for acceptance, there is no room for love.  We have to learn to let it go.  We might never ever be able to remedy what we have done.  Somethings just can’t be fixed, sadly, but we can keep the experience from hurting more than it already does.  Sadly, there is no AA for emotional / mental hangovers.  They are going to happen.  We have no choice over that matter.  What we DO have control over, however, is how we deal with them.  Feel the pain.  Feel the shame.  Feel the embarrassment or anger or anxiety or whatever it is, because if you don’t feel it, it will come back to haunt you.  Feel it, and then step away.  Ahimsa – don’t pour salt on the wound. Salt is for margaritas.

Circle

Standard

When I was 18, I fell in love with a guy who was 21.  We spent a wonderful summer together and it was brilliant.  Things happened that summer, however, that changed who we both were.  Towards the end of that “committed relationship,” he wrote me a letter as I was visiting my father out of state.  The end of the letter said, “If you ever wonder how I feel about you, listen to Edie.  She says it all.”  (sidebar: it’s been nearly 20 years since that summer and he and I are still friends.)

Ahhhh, the Circle.  Nothing’s good enough for anybody else, it seems.  We notice you don’t come around.

To say that my life has changed in the past year is a wild understatement.  EVERYTHING has changed.  Recently, my older brother came to visit and he was here for a couple of weeks.  He told me (and others) that he had to get to know his new sister.  I had to chew on that awhile.  Am I a new person?  Or is it possible that I am the same person I have always been, but *I* am  now visible again after all these years because, well, because “BrianandSarah” is no more?

I have discovered that I am either one of two things to almost everyone I know: I am either exactly the same as I have always been, or I am totally different.  The fact of the matter is that neither of those statements are true.  There was a time in my life where I only listened to punk music.  There was a time in my life where I only listened to country.  Okay, that’s a total lie – I have never ONLY listened to country, but certainly listened mainly to country (always classic stuff or underground stuff – never radio stuff.)   There was also a time in which I wouldn’t do anything if it wasn’t totally organic, natural, hippie-dippie stuff.  And, yes, there was a time when I disavowed television and all screen time.  All of those times were just that: times.  Times pass.

The truth of the matter is that, in the wee dark hours of the morning, I would occasionally find myself missing the gal who didn’t go fishing, who would have rather blasted death metal than listen to crickets, who took care of her business and, once that was taken care of, took a ride.  I have always wanted adventure and excitement and to live out loud.  Now that I’m doing it, however, I’m seeing that some folks don’t recognize me.   I get it.  I am just learning to recognize myself again.  It’s a process.  It’s a circle.  And, honestly, there was a part of me that didn’t come around anymore.  She’s starting to show up again.  She has to.  SHE HAS TO.  And she’d like to be welcomed back by someone other than herself.

I think this is the part of yoga that is so wonderful and so difficult.  When you’re on your mat, there is NO WHERE TO HIDE.  All of you comes up and slaps you right in the face.  You have to see it.  You have to acknowledge it.  You might be sweating because you’ve done 17 Surya Namaskar B’s in a row, but what you’re sweating out isn’t just salt water – it’s the salty truth.  We can either choose to notice our circle and spin around and around, or …. well, we’re going to spin whether we acknowledge it or not, but it’s our choice to take the ride with eyes open or eyes closed, and it’s our choice to step off the ride and not come around here anymore.

I’m still here.  I might be on a different arc of the circle than you’re used to seeing, but I promise you – it’s my circle, and I’m coming back around again.

 

The Power of White

Standard

When I was a kid in school, I was in special classes for “gifted” kids.  I always have hated that term.  Aren’t we all gifted?  Anyway, in these courses, I was given the opportunity to do incredible things.  I wrote two “books” before I was in Jr High School, attended court cases, took trips to botanical gardens, got out of regular classes to do hands on learning, and was able to meet some wonderful professionals.  When I was in 7th grade, I had an experienced that changed my life.  At the time, I had no idea how powerful it would be (who knows these things when they are 13?) but I have never forgotten it.  One spring Saturday, my “gifted” group and the similar groups from other schools piled into the auditorium and listened to an author speak about the writing process.  He spoke at length and answered questions and, honestly, I don’t remember very much except the one thing that has guided my life: “You must conquer the power of white.”

Before you go getting all steamed in your bloomers, this has nothing to do with race or color or anything other than writing.  You have to remember, I’m older than dirt.  When this event happened, people didn’t write on computers.  Most folks wrote on a word processor or even, gasp, on paper with a pencil or pen!  What the author was talking about was the terror, the complete and total block that comes when you sit down in front of a white sheet of paper and suddenly cannot think of a single word to write.  The whiteness, the purity, the blank sheet is too overwhelming and everything that you might think about writing starts to seem wildly inane and insignificant, so you sit there drooling on yourself like an idiot and get nothing done.  The white has won.

His suggestion? Get the paper dirty.  Scribble on it.  Spill something on it.  Smudge it.  Do anything – ANYTHING – to destroy the power of white.  When it’s not so blank, things start to happen.  It’s the same as waking up in the morning to a blanket of pure white thick fresh fallen snow.  You want to go out and play in it (okay, I never do, but I hear that most people want to,) and yet you don’t want to ruin the perfectness of it.  A perfectly frosted cake.  A pristinely made bed. A perfectly wonderful life, a perfectly profound grief.  They all can become all you see and the fear of changing it, even a tiny bit, is horrifying.  Adding humanity to it, adding life to it, adding (or subtracting)  ANYTHING to it risks fucking it up irreparably.

It’s been quite awhile since I have written and I couldn’t find out why I was struggling to get words onto the page.  I stated something along those lines on my FB status and got some insightful responses.  The one that struck me most profoundly, however, came in the form of a private message from a friend who suggested that maybe I am not sure what to write about now, how much of my own life to include in the story, is because I have been so very bold and open with my grief and my process and, now that it is taking on a different color, I’m feeling the need to protect it.  My life now has it’s own power of white.

Last time I wrote, I mentioned that I am now in a relationship with a wonderful man.  The feedback from that has been interesting, to say the least.  Most people who say anything at all to me about it are INCREDIBLY supportive and excited.  Many of my friends and family members have met him and it’s clear to them that this is a good thing.  It’s very clear to us that this is a good thing.  That said, there are several people out there (quite likely more than I know,) who are not so thrilled with this turn of events, who feel that it is disrespectful of Brian or of our marriage or whatever.  I realize that, for a long time, I was more terrified of what other people would say or think than how I would feel.  That, my dears, is utter bullshit.   Their feelings are their story.  My feelings are mine.  I’m the one who gets to scribble on my page so I can overcome the fear of writing a new story.  I took a breath, took a chance, and scribbled like mad and, guess what?  My story has a new plot, a wonderful, exciting, sincere, honest, compassionate plot that doesn’t dismiss my story with Brian, but has added onto it.  My story is still being written.  Had I not taken the chance, had I not scribbled, I’d still be dying daily while sitting on my couch.  I did that for months and months and months.  Brian wouldn’t have wanted that.  My kids didn’t want that.  *I* didn’t want that, but it was happening.  I messed up that perfectly blank sheet of grief and somehow, a story of life started to unfold.  I stopped dying on the couch and started, slowly, to live again.

I have been picking up additional yoga classes as the other teachers at Yoga Sol are vacationing.  Getting back into a more active teaching role has helped me scribble on my yoga page as well.  After Brian died, everything I did was colored by my loss.  It is absolutely impossible to avoid that.  Fortunately, it worked well for me and it made my teaching more … profound?  Intense? Real?  I don’t know what to call it, but for a long time it was even more of an extension of me as it has always been.  As I began to heal (and I’ll be healing for the rest of my life,) however, it started to feel like I was stuck.  Again, the power of white was blocking me.  I was too comfortable with the blanket of grief teaching and it became all I could see, even though it didn’t fit anymore.  One day, I did something I hadn’t done since Brian died: I ended the class with the singing bowl and a chant.  I scribbled on my class and, oh how the story started to pour out!  I have been doing yoga for more than half of my life and I have taken just about every kind of class you can imagine, but it was suddenly like I was a beginner again.  Beginner’s mind, yo.  Everything was new and wonderful and exciting and vibrant.  The grief hadn’t gone away, but suddenly there was the opportunity for much more than grief!  I think the same thing applies to all yoga students.  It might not be grief they are experiencing, it might just be complacency, or even incredible bliss, but if nothing ever changes, nothing ever changes.  I have had the pleasure of having new students in my class recently.  Yesterday, a lovely yogini arrived to my Flying Friday class and confessed that she had attempted to come the week prior, but got scared before she walked in and left without taking the class.  White white white white white.  Yesterday, she stayed, she took the class, scribbled al over her mat, and started to bloom into a million colors.

We can get blinded and paralyzed by extreme joy, extreme grief, extreme pain, extreme ambivalence.  It doesn’t matter what anyone thinks – it’s their story they are writing, not yours.  Only you can write your story, but you have to write it.  You have to take a chance, mess up the page, conquer the power of white, and get it out there. You never know how wonderful it will be unless you start letting it pour out onto your own page. Let it have colors.  Let it have adventure.  Let it have flavor and texture. Let it have music (I’m fond of the mandolin.) Let it be bold or timid, but let it be.  Don’t hide behind the power of white, get out there and start scribbling and be amazed at your own brilliance!

It’s Good to Be Here

Standard

Saturday night was Date Night and my husband and I were, as usual, out entirely way too late being up to no good and we were walking along the streets and alleys of downtown CoMO when I spotted the graffiti pictured up there.  It stopped me dead in my tracks.

We can get so caught up in the minutia of our lives that we forget that it really, truly is good to be here.  We live in a world where nearly everything is possible.  You are sitting here reading this right now on a computer or a phone or a tablet that is connecting us around the world by invisible connections in space.  You are loved.  You are alive.  You can feel the air on your skin.  You woke up on this side of the dirt this morning.

It’s good to be here, indeed.

I was so moved by this message sent by an anonymous sage that I used it as the theme for my next three yoga classes.  If you’ve ever wanted to take one of my classes but couldn’t make it, here’s your chance to experience a tiny bit.  Press your palms together (Anjali Mudra) and then bring your hands to Anahata (press your thumbs to your sternum.) As you breathe deeply, inhale and  feel your heart chakra lift up and press into your thumbs, exhale and feel your back body grounding.  Visualize a ball of light forming right inside you, right behind your thumbs. Breathe in and see that ball begin to glow and expand like fire does when fanned with oxygen. Breathe out and see the glow grow to encompass your whole body.  As it glows, begin to ad a little movement.  Inhale your arms over head, palms pressed together.  Exhale and draw your arms out in a circle around you until they come back to heart.  Reverse the process: inhale arms out and up the exhale hands to heart.  Repeat 5 more times.  Visualize the light encompassing you, circling you.  Then imagine it reaching beyond you to encompass your neighbor.  Then the town.  Then your state.  Then the country.  Then the entire world. This light is your light, your life, your passion, your grace, your joy, your uniqueness, your Prana.  No matter where you go or what you do, that light is within you.  That light is you.  That light is who you are.  That light is WHERE you are. Always.

It’s good to be here.

It’s Good to be here.

IT’S GOOD TO BE HERE.

Indeed.

Namaste

Every Teacher is a Student, Every Student is a Teacher – Except When They Aren’t.

Standard

Yeah. Not a teacher.

It happened again this morning.  I was drinking my coffee and browsing my Facebook and Twitter feeds and the news and blogs and all kinds of stuff and generally checking in with the online world and I came across someone saying that they are a “Yoga Teacher” now.

Of course they are.

A few minutes later, I was talking to a good friend of mine.  She mentioned that she had been invited to go to a yoga class in a nearby town.  When I asked if I knew the teacher, she said that nope, I didn’t and no one else did, either, because this person had had absolutely zero training.

Of course they didn’t.

I saw the newest lineup of “yoga” classes at a local gym.  I also looked at the lineup of “yoga teachers.”  Zero real yoga, zero real yoga teachers, and tons of blind yoga students being led by untrained teachers.

Of course.

Hear that? That is the sound of shoulders and knees going out, of hamstrings tearing, and of Ahimsa being ripped to shreds.

Now, look, I never once claimed that everything I write will be kind.  I also never claimed that I gave a hoot or a holler if anyone agrees with me.  What I have claimed is that I will write the truth as I see it, so put on your big girl yoga panties and get ready for a hearty slice of Satya.

Not every person claiming to be a “Yoga Teacher” is a Yoga Teacher.  I’m astounded and shocked at what people are accepting as adequate training before being allowed to teach yoga.  A weekend training does not a yoga teacher make.  A memorized DVD does not a yoga teacher make.  Not even years of practice does not a teacher make. And, if I’m going to be completely honest (why shouldn’t I?) not even all 200hr Yoga Teachers are Yoga Teachers.  I’ll wait here as you get on your soapbox and get defensive and start huffing and puffing.  Breathe, folks.  Hear me out.

Most of the gyms around here and even (mindbogglingly) a studio or two in this area require absurdly small amounts of training before “yoga teachers” are allowed to teach.  We’re talking maybe MAYBE 20 hours.  In these trainings, these students are told NOT TO TOUCH anyone.  They are told nothing about alignment, nothing about modifications, nothing about anything, really.  It’s insane.  It’s harmful.  It’s like sending your newborn to some dude in a garage for pediatric services because that dude once took a mandatory health class in Junior High School.  Know how I know this?  Because I did it.  I took that training.  I started teaching with that little amount of training and even then, even before I knew that I wanted this to be my life path, I knew it was a total joke.  Still, I taught with that small training and I nearly lost my job because I knew due to my own personal research and study that folks were busting their knees and shoulders and necks and so, in order to prevent injury, I touched them.  You BET I touched them.  I moved knees and heads and arms and feet.  I was willing to lose my job in order to keep others from losing their safety.  I regret nothing.  Clearly, I eventually left that location and into a real yoga studio and took the leap and got my 200hr certification and training.

Guess what I learned after 200 hours of training, 200 hours of teaching, over 30 books read, and more than 16 years of practice?  I learned that I barely know anything.  Far cry from those folks who have 20 or 30 hours of training, one book read, 3 dvds watched, and a spotless yoga mat and think they know it all!

Let me stop right here and say this: EVERYONE HAS TO START SOMEWHERE.  I know this.  I started there, too, remember? But it’s a starting place.  Just a starting place.  If you think you’re going to get a decent yoga teacher training studying a program that is designed to be taught in a gym, well, please stay in the gym and think really hard about what you’re doing.  You’re teaching Asana.  Asana is the smallest part of yoga.  It’s actually the least significant part of yoga.  If you want to stay with that, fine.  But don’t tell me or anyone else you’re teaching yoga because you are not. If you want to teach yoga, use that training as a springboard to get you into classes with a highly trained and certified YOGA teacher.  Be an apprentice.  Shadow.  Learn.  Take notes.  And then, for goodness sake, get some real training at a highly qualified yoga school.

Even that can be tricky, though.  What is a good school?  Folks will point to Yoga Alliance and, while it’s something, it’s not foolproof.  YA is not certification.  It’s registration.  There’s a difference.  I am certified through White Lotus Foundation, but I didn’t pay the fee to register with Yoga Alliance because it really means next to nothing.  Yes, you have to be certified by a Yoga Alliance accredited Yoga Teacher Training school, but dear lord, look at who they accredit!  They accredit folks who really really don’t have much training in areas that matter themselves, much less have any business training other people to be teachers.  Perfect example: one of my dear friends and former / sometimes current students recently completed her 200hr YTT at a yoga school that I thought would be perfect.  It’s not too far from here, I have (limited) experience with the yoga teacher trainer, I thought it would be perfect for her.  Yes, it’s true she learned more than most do about the Yamas and Niyamas and the other limbs of yoga Patanjali mentioned, she learned next to nothing at all about:

  • Modifications
  • Adjustments
  • Alignment
  • Contraindications

She kind of left wondering what the hell she spent all that time and money on.  I wondered the same thing myself.  I mean, if you aren’t taught how to modify, how to adjust, even the very basics of alignment, you haven’t been taught to teach.  My friend is a very studious person, however, and she’s taken notes on every class she has taken, has read way more than what was required of her, and knows that she still has much to learn, so her training has served her well in that it taught her that there is so much more to learn! Reminds me a bit of me (and everyone else who truly wants to learn the path of yoga), that girl.

So what do you do?  Start with Yoga Alliance.  It’s a good place to start and will at least weed out schools you really don’t even

Vitarka Mudra: the mudra of the teacher. Every teacher is a student, every student is a teacher. Sort of.

want to look at.  You ask around.  You ask for references.  You check and double check credentials.  You look at syllabi.  You research.  If you want to be a teacher, get fully trained.  Do not settle for a place that doesn’t require 200hours before unleashing you to teach.  Do not settle for a place that doesn’t teach alignment, adjustments, assists, modifications, contraindications, anatomy, history, philosophy.  Look, I know that there are some excellent teachers out there who have been teaching long before Yoga Alliance and there are loads of folks out there who are excellent teachers out there who are not accredited.  I’m not here to say that you have to have all of that to be a good teacher, but those people have been teaching AND studying forever.  They know that you don’t stop learning. They know that you have to keep learning.  And I’ll tell you this – they know that the more they know the more they have to learn. I also know that, if you ask them, they’ll tell you to get a high quality education, that there are no shortcuts, that a mat in the front of the room doesn’t make you a teacher.

They’ll also tell you that if this is what you believe in, if this is what you love, if this is the path you feel has been chosen for you, then do not let anything stand in your way.  If you feel drawn to this, as though you were born for it, follow it.  Go after it.  Do what you need to do to be the very best at it you can be.  Do not stop.  Do not give up.  Do not see obstacles.  Dive in, swim deep, and be.  They will tell you that the world needs you.  They will tell you all of these things — and I couldn’t agree with them more.

Yoga is a sacred journey.  It is a path, a lifestyle, a way of being.  It is not something you do, it is someone you are.  Don’t cheat your students or yourself out of all the incredible gifts that a thorough, consistent, dedicated, all encompassing education can bring.  Don’t be in such a rush to call yourself a yoga teacher that you forget that you must first – and always – be a yoga student and all that entails.

Love and light from your ever-opinionated, constantly learning, 200hrCYT, highly flawed, rebel yogini.

Namaste