Falling Down

May 16, 2013 at 2:53 pm | Posted in compassion and connection, coworkers and colleagues, holding myself accountable, observations, poses and asana | Leave a comment

WOW.  How long has it been since I’ve been HERE?!  Is anyone still following?

Regardless, I was inspired to come back and write in this space when my friend Liv posted this article on facebook.  Go ahead; read it.  I’ll wait.

This part stood out to me:

“Because if you don’t practice it, how can you teach it?!”

While a part of me honors those who leave out certain poses because they’re simply not in their own practice, I find that I use this principle as inspiration for moving outside of my proverbial “comfort zone.” I WANT to try new things so that I can share them with my participants, and I think that there’s a LOT of under-appreciated value in having participants watch an instructor wrestle with a pose.

I think that too many people come to yoga class thinking that they’ll NEVER be as good as the instructor. Hell, I’ve been practicing for going on 13 years now, and I STILL think that every time I walk into someone else’s class.  Despite my exhortation that students NOT compare themselves to other people (or judge themselves too harshly), I find myself doing just that.  Every teacher is more graceful and flexible than I am, and I’m particularly bothered by the fact that I can’t (yet) execute a full bind and that my standing straddle is, in my estimation, wholly insufficient.

Letting that go is still a deliberate practice for me.  Someday, maybe, I’ll get past it, but for now it’s still something that I’m actively working on.

I think, though, that letting my participants see me fall out of half moon – sometimes spectacularly – or fight for a bind that I can only maintain for one breath gives them permission to fall down and fight, too.  Watching me struggle, seeing me shake and sweat, and listening to me talk about the places where it doesn’t just flow demonstrates to them that this yoga thing really IS a process.

Though it sounds counter-intuitive, falling down makes us better.


So. Not. Cool.

October 17, 2009 at 6:38 pm | Posted in coworkers and colleagues, practice off the mat, questions and conundrums | Leave a comment

Okay, here’s what happened; several weeks ago, one of my colleagues at the health club asked me if I’d sub her Saturday morning yoga class. I like this lady very much and I didn’t have anything planned for the morning, so I told her I’d be happy to do it.

I arrived at the club and taught a lovely class. When it was over, everyone was rolling up their mats in preparation for leaving. As I was clearing up my things, I was commenting to one of the participants that her form in a particular pose was especially lovely – keep in mind that I wasn’t just standing there talking, but was cleaning up as I spoke – when the woman who teaches the next class in the room – let’s call her Annie – walked in.

Her exact words to me were “Chili. Honey. It’s 9:30. I have a class. Get out.”

I was horrified. I gathered up all of my things and headed for the hall, seething.

Now, to be fair (fair? I’m not sure what other word to use), Annie is not famous for her tact. In fact, she’s got a reputation as being a self-centered diva. She’s the kind of person who announces in her classes, over the loudspeakers, that her birthday is next week and offers up gift suggestions. She’s blunt and forceful, and everyone knows this. Should I have been surprised that she would speak to me this way? No; I’m not part of her clique and she has made no show of hiding her disdain for those, like me, whom she deems to be less than her.

What I really objected to, though, is her willingness to be so rude and unprofessional in front of a room full of yoga participants. One of the women in the room found me in the hall and told me that she was upset by the display; there was no need of Annie’s behavior, she told me, and she was sorry that it happened to me. I tried to be professional about it and told the lady that *I* was sorry that it made her uncomfortable, but didn’t really say anything else. What else could I have said?

Here’s my question, Dear Readers; what do I do about it? Should I bring it up with Annie and ask her to please express her impatience in a more professional way? (Just as a point of reference, everyone complains that classes don’t clear out of the room fast enough, and this has been a gripe for YEARS; why we don’t stagger the classes with five minutes between them is a wonder to me.) Do I bring it up with the lady for whom I was subbing and let her know that I may not be comfortable subbing that class in the future because I’d rather not put myself in a position to be abused by Annie again? Do I tell my boss what happened? Do I hope a member complains to the management, or do I just chalk the whole experience up to Annie’s being an unprofessional, immature, and selfish child and leave it at that?

I tried really hard to not let this wreck all the nice energy I worked up in the class, but as you can tell from the fact that I’m writing this a little more than 9 hours after it happened, clearly I failed.


I Did… But Then I Took it Back…

November 2, 2008 at 8:13 pm | Posted in coworkers and colleagues, learning and growing, questions and conundrums, the Universe craves balance | 1 Comment

So, I did it.  I sent in my resignation letter.  It was scary to hit the “send” button, but I did it, and I was prepared to live with the decision.

Because the place where I work can often be like a high school – where rumors pop up like so many dandelions in springtime – I decided to send a copy of my letter to my coworkers who also teach yoga.  I didn’t want them to hear that Chili had stormed into the bosses’ offices and threw things and uttered vicious swears and cried, screaming “I QUIT” at the top of her voice.  I wanted them to hear it from ME exactly the way I intended it to be heard.

I wasn’t prepared for the reaction.  Three of the five people I emailed responded that same afternoon that they were more than happy to cover my classes for me and wished that I’d reconsider my decision to quit.

I thought about it for all of five minutes, then sent another email to the bosses asking them if they’d mind very much if I retracted my resignation.  If it was okay with them that quite a lot of my upcoming classes be taught by my colleagues, then I’d like very much to keep my job.  I was surprised when the big boss emailed back that he was pleased I’d be staying on and that, as long as the members were okay with the subs, whatever arrangements we came to as a department were fine with him.

I taught my Sunday class today, and everyone there understands that they likely won’t be seeing me again until after Thanksgiving.  Mr. Chili is leaving for an extended business trip to New Mexico on Wednesday, I explained, and it’s damned near impossible to find child care on Sunday mornings.  They all said they’d miss me and look forward to my return.

I’m glad that I don’t have to quit.  While I’m not pleased with the working environment at the health club (though I do love my yoga colleagues!), I really love my classes and the people who attend them.  I’m really glad I don’t have to leave them just yet.

The Universe provides.

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