Tag Archives: White Lotus Foundation

#365yoga Day 90: The Wheel

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At 11:27 am CST, I locked the door to 300 Saint James Street for the last time.  I had just finished teaching my last yoga class at our temporary studio and it was a lovely class filled with committed yoga students and beautiful energy.  I got into my car and had to sit there for a little while and reflect.  

It was about 2 years ago that I decided to become a yoga teacher.  2 short years.  It’s something I always thought about, of course.  I wanted to do it for a long time, but certain things (read: feeling like I didn’t deserve to do it, wasn’t worth it, etc.) kept me from pushing through and doing it.  I’ll never forget the moments that got me to the other side of that: several yoga teachers at the gym I attended kept asking me to “finally get” my “yoga training in so” I “could sub already, dammit!”

What can I say, they were persuasive.

20 months ago, I did what I could with what I had (very tiny budget and very little time,) and took a very little basic yoga teacher training.  Within 3 days I was able to teach at my gym.  And teach I did!  It was only a few weeks later that I had my own regular class and was subbing frequently in multiple locations all over town.  My goodness, when I think back on some of those classes, well, let’s just say that most yoga students are benevolent, patient, good humored folk!  I kept teaching, though, and I kept learning and growing and asking questions.  I kept searching and trying and trusting in the process.  Yoga Sol was born and I moved my mat from the gym to a studio.

Yoga Sol lived at that studio for 14 months.  My classes grew from one student (or, at times, none) to wall to wall mats.  I met amazing people and felt amazing energy and got to witness the transformation that comes when you commit to a regular yoga practice both in my students and in myself.  I met mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters, artists and actors, poets and photographers, teachers and students, and Michael Franti and his gang.

The wheel keeps on rolling down the road, for sure!

Somewhere along that road, I realized that I DO deserve to follow my bliss, I DO deserve to have a bright future, I DO deserve a real and proper training, so in October I packed up my bags and headed out west to The White Lotus Foundation.  For many of you, this might not seem like a big deal. For me and my family, however, it was revolutionary.  I left my homeschooled children and husband (who works in an industry that is fueled by college sports,) alone for 16 days during the 3 busiest weekends of the year: homecoming and games against the 2 top rivals.  Used to be that I wouldn’t even think about scheduling lunch during those weekends, much less a trip across the country!  Yoga transforms, eh?

I sent in my final paperwork for my 200RYT last Saturday.  I DID IT!

Today I locked the door at the temporary location of Yoga Sol.  I taught the last class there and I will be teaching the first class at the new location, 210 Saint James Street, which just happens to fall on my 35th birthday.  I think it’s highly significant.  I feel it’s a rebirth, of sorts.  I will be opening the studio not just as a teacher, but as the manager, working very closely with one of the greatest gifts I have ever received, my mentor, friend, and Yoga Sol owner, Polly.  What started out as just the two of  us in a dance studio has now grown into the first indoor / outdoor yoga studio in Mid-MO, if not the entire state of Missouri.  We have a teaching staff of  8 other teachers on board now as well as our own classes filled with students who have followed us both through the trenches and into the light.

And the wheel is still rolling!

Yoga is very much like a wheel.  The more momentum it has, the further it goes, and will usually take you further than you could ever imagine if you just let it go.  I cannot wait to see where this leads, but I’ll tell you this – I hope I never stop the wheel from turning.  I will watch it with amazement and awe and joy because it is bound to be an awesome ride.

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#365yoga Day 67: Yoga Connects (much love to my yoga family!)

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After reading my post from yesterday , my pal Nancy commented that, once again, we are on the same wavelength.  She had written nearly the exact post this past Sunday as I wrote yesterday.  I hadn’t read her post yet (I’m woefully behind in my blog reading,I admit,) and when I checked it out today I nearly fell over.  This happens to us all the time.  We like the same music, same clothes, same poses, same … pretty much everything.  We often think the same things at the same time.  We share a lot and often wonder if we share our brains, too.  Nancy is as much of a sister to me as is my biological sister.  We are strongly connected by many things, but it all started with yoga.

This coming Saturday, 30 students of yoga will start a 16 day journey that will change their lives forever at The White Lo

tus Yoga Foundation.  They will start their Yoga Teacher Training with Tracey and Ganga as individuals, as strangers, but they will leave as family.  It blows my mind that it has been 4 months since I stepped foot on the mountain and left a part of my heart there.  I met people who live in my heart every day. I felt connection with the land, the people, the spirit — I still do.  I speak of my brothers and sisters born on the mountain.  They are my family and we are connected by many things, but it, too, all started with yoga.

I have a community of yoga teachers and yoga students I am connected with online.  Many of us call it the cyber sangha.  We share ideas, concerns, ask and answer questions, laugh, love, and learn.  We share hope and courage and strength, humility and humanity, practice and praise, coffee and cupcakes (often via fax!)  We are spread all over the world, but we know much about each other and have supported each other through a lot.  We are connected, we are brothers and sisters of the mat.

Yoga brings people together.  It is something that changes us from the inside out as individuals, but also changes the world by connecting us all.  We are a community of people sharing the same general belief that we (everyone) is one: one love, one breath, one world, one people.  Yoga = To yoke, to unite, to bring together.  While I love and cherish the things yoga has brought to my life, today I give thanks for the people who have come into my life as a result of my relationship with my mat.

I love you, my yoga family, wherever you are.

Namaste

                         When we walk together little children
                         We don't ever have to worry
                         Through this world of trouble
                         We've got to love one another
                         Let us take our fellow man by the hand
                         Try to help him to understand
                         We can all be together forever and forever
                         When we make it to the promised land

                                        ~ Jerry Garcia

 

#365Yoga Days 26 & 27: Intention, Commitment, and Controversy.

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It’s currently 4:08 CST on Thursday afternoon.  I sort of feel like this is the first moment I have stopped running since yesterday morning.  I didn’t post yesterday because, frankly, I didn’t have time. Know what I was doing?  Honoring my commitment to yoga.

It is an exciting time for Yoga Sol.  This week we offered an amazing discount on unlimited yoga classes for one month on the inaugural week of Groupon in Columbia, MO.  I hope you got yourselves a deal!  We are adding teachers and classes left and right (most will be starting when we move,) and that requires planning and consideration.  As manager, I get to be involved in a lot of that.  The new studio is coming right along and it looks BEAUTIFUL!  The light in there is incredible and the plans for the flooring, window treatments, and lighting make my toes curl with excitement.  We want to do it right, so it’s taking time, but will be worth it.

Yesterday had me running to lunch meetings with an amazing children’s yoga teacher (fingers crossed she joins the YS family,) to the new studio to oooooh and ahhhhhh and awe over the incredible work going on in there (and to support my Polita – love you the mostest, Polly,) and then heading off to teach my Wednesday afternoon class.  Lunch was lovely, the studio is awesome, and class was … perfect.  Not perfect because I said all the right words or got everything in there that I had planned or established world peace and an end to hunger, though.  Nope, it was perfect because it felt just right.  There was the perfect blend of planning and going with the flow, intelligence and inspiration, and wisdom with reality.  I really feel like I am not just leading a yoga class these days; I feel like I am really teaching yoga.  It isn’t forced or planned – there are just times when I look at my students and pull everyone out of their asana and tell them what is going on and why and what they might expect from their bodies and what that means and and how it can be different if they want or whatever.  Walking through my students and laying hands on them for correction, assistance, or reassurance is almost instinctual and intuitive for me now.  We did some crazy balance flow that I made up and folks were falling out left and right and it was exactly as it should be.  Yoga represents life.  In life we fall out all the damn time.  We stumble. We fall. We get off the path. We sway. We falter. But yoga teaches us that a) it’s okay to fall, and b) to get back up and go again without shame, blame or guilt.  We tried old things and new things.  One student even attempted Sirsasana for the very first time and, with a lot of support and assistance, managed to feel what it was like to turn her world upside down for a few moments.  AWESOME!

As folks were filing out after class, I had someone sign my form from White Lotus that will go towards my final registration with Yoga Alliance.  It completed a certain section and I realized that I will be ready to submit within 2 weeks.  I have really mixed feelings about that.  I am not at all sure how I feel about Yoga Alliance.  Yes, it gives the alphabet soup behind my name, but honestly, I have EARNED those letters already.  The only thing registering with Yoga Alliance means is that I pay them some money and they put me on a list of folks who are registered in this country.  Honestly, it doesn’t mean much – certainly not as much as it once did.  The Alliance isn’t doing much for anyone these days except charging annual fees.  As I have written about before, there is no mathematical equation that makes a yoga teacher.  There’s been a huge uproar in the yoga community this week spawned a NYT article about former-model-now-celebrity-yogini Tara Stiles in which she states (and I’m paraphrasing) that her yoga teacher training was “crap.” She is now training yoga teachers, but based on what I’m not sure.  The point of my bringing this up is not to rake Stiles over the coals, but to bring up the issue of the importance of QUALITY yoga teacher training and to question the importance of Yoga Alliance.  I won’t get too deep into the discussion here (google it, read YogaDork.com, or search ElephantJournal.com – if you read the comments, you’ll get more of the scoop than you wanted, trust me on this,) but I’m full of opinions (surprise, eh? heh.)   I have met folks who have completed some 200hr RYT  and they seem to come out thinking they know it all!  This amazes me because I went through one of the premier yoga teacher trainings in the country ( White Lotus was one of the very first – Ganga White himself has been referred to by others as the man who brought Yoga to the US in the 60s and has the title Yoga Acharya x 3, and Tracey Rich is … well, there is no comparison to  Tracey Rich) and I left that training knowing SO much my head was exploding but the number one thing I learned was – THERE IS ALWAYS MORE TO LEARN.  Drives me freaking crazy when folks have been practicing or teaching for a year or two and calling themselves Master Yogis or some other bullshit… ugh.

I digress…

This all reminds me of the years I spent as a doula.  I went through a fairly intense training and through a massive reading list and attending lots of births and had evaluations done by nurses, obstetricians, midwives, and most importantly mothers and fathers.  I went through the whole rigormorole and still I had questions about whether I should certify or not.  It was very much the same deal as is Yoga Alliance.  Eventually I DID end up certifying.  I paid, I filled out forms and I got my alphabet soup and my name on a massive important website and…. it did nothing at all to change the level of care I was giving already, nor did it bring me more clients nor credibility.  What it did do, however, is give me a sense of accomplishment.  I didn’t think those letters after my name made me any better or any worse, but it did say to me that I earned them, that I made it (somewhere – although I was already there anyway, just hadn’t checked in on Four Square, so to speak.)  I didn’t particularly love my doula certifying organization or believe in everything that they stood for nor did I pledge allegiance to said organization, BUT I DID certify through them and felt … credible in the eyes of people who care about such (possibly) inane things.

There has been a call to overhaul Yoga Alliance and make it something that means something again.  I sincerely hope that it happens because I will be sending in my information and my check.  Not because it matters.  Not because it changes anything. Not because it makes me better or more important, but because it honors my intention that I declared when I set out on this journey and it is part of the commitment I made to my family, my students, my studio, and myself.  I don’t think there’s anything crappy about that.

Namaste

We are Stardust (White Lotus part 2)

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I don’t even know how to start.  I’ve been thinking about it and have realized that trying to explain and express my time at White Lotus Foundation is sort of like trying to describe the color blue to someone who has been blind from birth: You might get close, but nothing seems to do it justice.  You cannot describe it completely to someone unless they have experienced it themselves and, even then, there aren’t words, just energy.

OH MY MAUDE, THE ENERGY!

First things first: We DID grow to love the walk.  Ganga and Sven were right – I even miss it.  Just a few of the things we saw every day on our journey up and down the mountain…

 

There were other incredible things to see while at The Lotus, too…

 

 

I have over 400 pictures.  They still aren’t enough.  I’ll be posting a few here and there in the following days as I continue to write about this amazing, life changing, inspiring experience.

I love The Lotus.  I love you all.

Namaste

Om Shanti

T-6 days and counting – White Lotus, here I come!

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One week from today, I will wake up in Santa Barbara at The White Lotus Foundation.  Unbelievable.  It seems like just yesterday I was sitting on my deck with Polly talking about possibly taking a trip.  In reality, it’s been more than 6 months since that happened.  Where did the time go?  Is it really almost here?

It is.

We leave Columbia early in the morning next Saturday.  It will be a long day for us: driving 2 hours, flying 4, time change, bus ride, taxi ride, check in, practice, dinner, study.  I’m intimidated by that day alone.  The next 15 days will be filled with Pranayama, meditation, anatomy, philosophy, history, asana, education, lectures and workshops, fires, swimming, hiking, eating, dreaming, loving, learning, growing, breaking down, building up, and transforming.  This is BIG, folks.

I have never left my family for this long before. It’s going to change us all in miraculous ways.  I wonder, will it be a joy or a shock to rediscover each other after we have all been changed by this experience?  Will I want my family to become vegan?  Will I get arrested for biting a random cow or pig I might see on the way to the airport?  Will my kids be grateful to see me again or will they ignore me with the spite of, well, of attitude riddled children who have been shuffled around for 2 weeks?  My husband – eh, that’ll be fine. 😉

If you haven’t had the time to visit White Lotus’s website, please do so.  See how beautiful unadulterated land is.  See where Polly and I are going.  See what we’re going to be soaking up and what we’ll be raining down on you.

White Lotus Foundation

Why X + Y ≠ Yoga Teacher

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I used to have a friend who had a masters degree in early education.  She had spent years in school, thousands of dollars on education and testing and certification.  She taught 5th grade, 4th grade, Kindergarten, and, at the time, was running the preschool for her city’s public school system.  Her biggest pet peeve?  Folks who ran daycare centers saying that they had the same job as she did, that they were professional peers.

I used to be a doula. I helped many, many babies come into the world.  I spent the money and took a long training, spent a year reading a huge required reading list, did loads of practice births for free, wrote essays and took exams, and eventually became certified through the most intensive (albeit now different) organization.  My biggest teacher?  A woman who had never had any formal training at all, but had been attending births her whole life because it was the natural thing to do.

I have been teaching yoga for a little over a year.  I have taught in gyms, in birth centers, in backyards, in parks, in yoga studios, in forests, in my pajamas, in campgrounds, and in homeschooling groups.  I’ve taught classes with 1 student and classes with 51 students.  If I took the time, I could probably count the hours I have spent teaching.  Heck, since I have the time, I’ll do an educated guess: I would say that in a little over a year, I have taught 285 hours of yoga that I have been paid for (upon 2nd thought, I bet that’s a conservative number.)  I have taught for cash, for credit, for food, for photography, for haircuts, for childcare, for charity, for the love of it, for the love of others, etc.  I have been quoted on the Yoga Journal website (thanks, @Jodim, for that,) in magazines, on websites, in newspapers.  My name is starting to be known in my town and in cyperspace (not that was ever my goal.)    My “official formal” training?  An 18 hour weekend course.

< pauses while the whole world gasps and freaks out.>

No worries, it makes my skin crawl, too.

My “unofficial informal” training?  17 years of personal home practice and  group yoga classes, 2 years apprenticeship (shout, Polita!, ) closing in on 17 years of spiritual study, workshops, one on one dialogue with master yogis (thank you, Twitter,) 10 years of meditation practice, and a life-long desire to go deeper and further into the dark so that I can stand more strongly, fully into the light.  I have read more yoga / anatomy / theory / Buddhist / Hindu / spiritual / meditation / personal growth books than most libraries have.  I have listened and learned from each of my students.  I have been present.

Does that make me better?  Nope.  Does that make me different? My students say it does.

There is no formula for a great teacher.  I have all this under my belt and it still is not enough. It NEVER will be enough.  I am leaving in a few weeks for The White Lotus Foundation to get my 200hrRYT status with Yoga Alliance.  Will that be the end of my yoga education equation?  NOT. A. CHANCE.  I will FOREVER be learning, forever be growing, forever be expanding.  If I am breathing, I will be learning.  If I am learning, I will be sharing. Some folks call that sharing “teaching.”

Fair enough.

I do not believe that there is an equation that one person can follow that will make them a Yoga Teacher.  I haven’t found it yet.  Am I a yogini?  Yep.  Do I share it?  Yep.

Am I still a student? OH, yes, yes yes yes yes.  Yes.  Forever yes.

An equation seems finite.  There is no “finite” in yoga.

I am a yoga teacher.  I am more than the sum of my parts.

So are you.

Namaste

Yoga Sol NEWS and Schedule for OCTOBER AND NOVEMBER

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Can you smell it? Fall is in the air!  The air turns cooler and the leaves start to change and so does Yoga Sol!
Plans for the new studio are moving ahead at full steam and, let me tell you, it is going to be breathtakingly beautiful!  Some of the things you can look forward to:
Changing rooms separate from the bathroom
Gorgeous natural lighting
A large deck for indoor / outdoor yoga
Natural influences of stone, wood, and earth
Off street parking
More variety in class schedules and class styles
Love, love, love, and more love!
While all of that is going on, Polly and I will be in Santa Barbara getting our 200hrRYT status at the esteemed White Lotus Foundation, one of the first all inclusive yoga teacher certifying centers in the US!  We’re so excited to go, learn, and bring home ageless wisdom and practices.
All of this exciting stuff means that we are needing to run a short schedule at Yoga Sol for October and November.  We will be re-evaluating our schedule mid-November and adding a few more classes here and there to fill the schedule out until we open the doors of the new studio (anticipated opening around the first of December,) but starting OCTOBER 1***, the Yoga Sol Schedule will be:
Monday 6-7pm GENTLE YOGA
Wednesday  9-10am LEVEL 2
Saturday 9-10am ALL LEVELS
***  YOGA SOL WILL BE CLOSED SATURDAY, OCTOBER 2


Thank you for sharing the love and the light!  We’ll see you on the mat!