yoga teacher

i used to have a "real" job

Some people are surprised by this fact.

They think I was born a Yoga Teacher.

Au contraire. I was a Business Consultant first.

Ya, I’m not really sure what that means either.

It’s said that consultants are sort of good at a lot of things, but not really good at any one thing.

I worked for a company called Synergy Consulting. It was a small, Sacramento firm which contracted solely with State agencies. I was the 96th employee.

My projects included the Department of Health, the Department of Child Support Services, and CalPERS. My responsibilities ranged from Business Process Reviews (making maps for a current workflow and identifying potential inefficiencies or dead-ends) to Data Conversion Mapping (matching pieces of information in one system to their correct location in a new system) to Training (Hi, Department of State Workers, I’m going to train you on this new computer system I know nothing about).

Feeling like I knew nothing was something I was pretty used to. I mean, I faked it for a while. We can do that, you know.

For six years, Synergy (later acquired by AMS, later acquired by CGI) was a wonderful place to work. I was surrounded by people much smarter than me and I knew I would grow because of it. It paid well, I had health insurance, and at the time, job security. My dad was proud.

And yet. And yet.

By the end, I dreaded going to work. I arrived late and left early. The best thing about my day was my outfit.

To boot, for the last year and a half I was running the studio and teaching 10+ classes a week.

My health was declining due not only to physical exhaustion, but also the disparity between my personal integrity and my actions. The body takes on what the mind/heart cannot handle.

I actually thought of closing the studio. Sometimes we imagine it would be easier to completely deny a dream than it would to allow for the changes that would take place should that dream become reality.

Even though I dreamed of devoting myself to the studio and teaching, the lifestyle changes required in order to do that seemed too large. To ask my then-husband to financially support the family (at least for a while) seemed unreasonable. Wouldn’t it be easier to shut that part of myself off, to do the responsible thing.

Thankfully, after much discussion and a near break-down, I decided to retire as a consultant. Every day I am thankful for this decision. (I am such a better yoga teacher than I ever was a business consultant.)

My health gradually improved, my confidence increased, I was more willing to take risks, I was engaged and participating. Not that there haven’t been bumps and unexpected turns, but that’s living, that's being human.

So I’m wondering about you. What dreams do you have? What small step could you make toward that reality? How does your body/spirit respond to denial? Or if you’ve taken a big risk in your life to follow a dream, what has that been like? Even a small victory, like painting the bedroom the color you’ve always wanted.

Part of the richness of life is sharing and telling our stories, being heard. Thank you for listening to mine. I hope to hear from you.

image, grief and the big d

One thing has become very clear in the past month – my schemas around being “a yoga teacher.”

Yoga teachers don’t have rage or shame.
Yoga teachers don’t do things that are vain and selfish.
Yoga teachers don’t… get divorced.

Well… of course they do.

And even though I thought I’d explored it, this schema was hiding very very deep in my belief system.

If you’ve ever come to my class you know that I tend to share personal stories in a way that I hope supports the understanding and larger context of Yoga.

When I signed up to teach yoga, and later when I decided to create a physical space for the practice, I made a commitment to be real. To be appropriately transparent and honest about my flaws and struggles on this path (and there are oh-so many!).

Even though I talk about my life, one of my main tenets as a yoga teacher is never make the class about you. This can be a delicate line to navigate. How much to share? How personal to get? How to stay off the strange Yoga Teacher Pedestal?

Naturally, I offer only parts of myself. Only the parts I want to be seen. Of course — we all do this, all day! But in the past month I’ve become aware of how strong a motivator “image” is, and how I want to be perceived in a warm glow of “yogic” light.

So friends, in the spirit of honesty, I share here that I am getting divorced. More than sharing that flat detail, I humbly offer pieces of my experience from the past months. The beautiful mercies that have been offered… which are less about me and more about all of us.

  • Grief is a physical experience. Poet Linda Pastan describes, “How heavy it is/displacing with its volume/your very breath.” For those of you who have experienced death or great loss in your life, you are nodding. You know. I did not.
  • We are not alone in our grief and pain. A friend of mine just had intense surgery and is in a wheelchair, another’s husband lost his job a week after they had their second baby, another had a mastectomy and is going through chemo. And you — you have your story of battle, your secrets, your fears that speak only in the night. Even in the most painful moments of self-absorption and aloneness, I knew I was touching something that is universal. This knowing led to how…
  • The heart can break open to vast skies of compassion and feelings of connectedness. One Sunday morning I saw a young man in the park who appeared to be homeless, and I thought ‘the line between us is so very thin…’
  • Beauty exists even amid deep pain. Simple moments, the breath, light through the leaves.
  • It is easier to give than to receive. The amount of love and support, spoken and unspoken, that I have received has been overwhelming and at times unbearable. It takes courage and strength to be vulnerable, to accept care, to open the heart. And for many of us, most challenging is to receive self-love and self-forgiveness.
  • There is no beginning and there is no end. The erosion and unravelling of a relationship doesn’t just happen, just as healing is a process. After what seemed to be the darkest time in my heart, I had several consecutive “good days” and thought, Oh, I’m better! I’m done grieving!  I was quickly reminded this is not a linear process.
  • We each have to follow our own way. For me, that was isolating. For others it might be processing through work or activity, or by being in groups. I recognize how blessed I have been to be able to step back from my life during this enormous transition (though we should all be able to do that as a practice of self care, even without a major life event).
  • There’s something to this yoga thing. While much of my Yoga in the past month has not included asana, as I venture back into my body, I am in utter awe of the innate healing power within. I feel increased sensitivity to grounding, gratitude, and intuition.

Being away from It’s All Yoga has ironically shown me what a true and rare gift the space and community are. How precious and essential it is to have a place you can go to just be with yourself. To just be yourself. As one of our gifted teachers, Bob, put it:

Every day there are people who come to the studio for refuge.  None of us is exempt from the pain that life events sometimes bring us.  This space is special because it offers a place of safety for restoring the body, mind, and soul.  This doesn’t just happen.  It happens because we each contribute to creating this supportive, safe, and respectful environment.  Today, the person on the mat next to you may be seeking a bit of refuge and a chance to heal.  Tomorrow, you may be here for the same purpose.  The pain that each of us feel is not individual pain, but shared pain.  The healing that each of us find is also shared.  Thank you all for helping to make this space, and this community, sacred and special.

After not being at the studio for a month, I look forward to shedding my cocoon and coming home.