• Speaking My Mind

    Fear of Loss and Change

    Although the relationship ended almost two weeks ago now, I haven’t processed it fully. That’s partly because my ex and I had been talking about the possibility of trying again, even though I’ve known all along that my heart doesn’t want to try anymore. On the other hand, I wanted to want to try to make things work between us. I had ended things, but I wasn’t ready to let go.

    In general, I have a difficult time making decisions because of the finality of them. Even when I make a decision, I’m afraid to stand by it.

    Since she knows my patterns, she suspected that I was unintentionally leading her on, so she told me about it. Then I did some meditating for a few days and reflected. I was reminded of one of the Yoga Kleshas called Abhinivesa. I tend to forget all of the other Kleshas, but this one has always resonated with me because it addresses the fear and worry of loss and change. In hindsight, the entirety of my post-grad life has been about releasing worry and fear. During my job search, I’ve been trying to secure a job offer, but after the interviews, I become mentally consumed with the fear of getting a job.

    If I get the job, will I still be able to teach yoga? Will the commute be too arduous? Will I have to move? Where will I move? How am I going to get a car? Will I have to work too many hours? Will I always get home when everyone is asleep? What if I become depressed from working? How will I be able to maintain my self-care practices while working full time? How will I find balance? 

    A month ago, I had told my yoga teacher about this problem, and she informed me that there was no possibility of me moving forward if I am caught up in anxiety and fear. In order to move forward, I have to channel all my energy forward without clutching onto my fears.

    Relationships are obviously different than personal goals, but I was trapped in the same cycle of trying to move forward while holding onto my fear of loss and change. When I realized this, my girlfriend and I talked on the phone about the finality of our breakup.

    So…now I’m spending time healing from that before my life becomes busy again. I’m grateful to have some time to rest, reflect, and heal. Part of my reflecting process includes reflecting on an oracle card reading I did last week, right after the breakup. The reading continues to be relevant, so I decided to share it below.

    Surrendering – An Oracle Card Reading

    1. The first card, which represents where I’m at now, is Divine Support. This card is associated with the sacred, cosmic sound of “Aum” that brought the world into existence. This card reveals that Ganesha wants to assist me in my divine path away from fear, distress, and anguish and towards light and love of myself. As I face all these obstacles and changes in my life, I struggle not to doubt or worry about my decisions. I’ve sought out more introspective self-care such as journaling, meditation, and yin yoga. I love chanting, particularly chanting “Aum,” which helps me feel connected to the Universe.
    2. The second card represents my next step, which is Acceptance. The card advises that I accept things as they are and that I release blame, anger, and sorrow so that I can continue on my spiritual adventure. When I overcome those obstacles, the ego can align with the soul. As I come to find acceptance, I must remember happiness, find contentment, recognize beauty within, and look at the world through a more spiritual perspective. Ganesha supposedly consumed the sadness of the Universe, which is comforting because I’ve been feeling lots of sadness in waves. When I worry, doubt, regret, or anguish creep up in my mind, I recall why I chose the path that I did. Then I accept it for what it is. I want to feel all the feelings so I can accept things as they are and move forward. Again, meditating and yoga play a huge roll in this process.
    3. My obstacle is Nurture. This card represents creating a calm and balanced life. To achieve this, I need to slow down and deal with issues as they arise. This card is associated with the heart chakra. This card advises finding female friends. I have been connecting with my friends more during this difficult time. I can’t help but wonder if sharing with my fam is the intention of the obstacle…but I’m not ready to do that yet. It took a lot to fight for the presence of this relationship and I’m reluctant to share its demise. I also don’t want to be vulnerable with them yet. I rather keep it to myself. Which may be why this is an obstacle.
    4. My resource to overcome my obstacle is my Inner Knowing. This means that it is a time for soul searching and to look for guidance within. This card states that I need to seek truth and to use meditation, consideration, and self-assessment to evaluate my direction. This card notes that my priorities may shift and to seek alone time. I think all my journaling has helped strengthen my inner knowing. I’m proud to have honed this and found more confidence in myself by exploring my inner knowing through writing. I plan to continue to grow because it will take me to the next experience.
    5. My final outcome is Surrender. Rest and recover from the challenges and lessons that I have experienced. Stabilize energy. To me, this is similar to acceptance but it’s more passive. It makes sense that this is what I need. As all these things conclude, it’s time to rest. Resting will refuel me for the next thing. Instead of regarding the break between jobs as a desperate time to obtain another job, use the time to surrender, rest, and refuel. Same thing for my relationship. It’s time to turn inward.

    xx Vic

  • Yoga

    How to Find the Right Yoga Studio for You

    I had never been a member of a yoga studio until I finished my yoga teacher training, thus, my impression of all yoga studios, up until a month ago, was that they were all like the teacher training I attended: inclusive, positive environments that value the “capital-Y Yoga,” or the Yoga practice off of the mat.

    While this may be true of many or even most places, I don’t believe that it was true of the first yoga studio I went to to try to get a yoga job. (Which they did not offer me because they never even gave me a chance to audition, but they were doing me a favor. I just didn’t realize it was a favor initially).

    I bought a new membership pass at a local yoga studio, and the first class I took was taught by the owner of the studio. As a new teacher trying to get a teaching job, I understood that you have to take a class with the owner before asking about a sub-list.

    Well, I felt like the owner didn’t take interest in me as a new student. I believe it was the front-desk woman who asked me if I’ve done yoga before and asked me a little bit about myself. During the class, the instructor did not make any corrections, verbal or otherwise, to any of the students. I feel like there wasn’t an excuse to not do this, especially considering that the class was small, with about four people aside from myself, so there was an opportunity for the class to be personable.

    Another aspect of the class that I did not like was how she incorporated “yogic” things. She used the harmonium, chanting, and a gong, which I love, but if I was a new student who was not very familiar with Yoga, it may have been very uncomfortable. The only reason I was familiar with the harmonium and the chant was because I had undergone 200 hours of training, but the gong was off-putting to listen to for the first time (although now I love it), especially because there was no introduction to it.

    Despite my ill-feelings about the class, I had the pass so I took advantage of by attending different styles of yoga with different teachers. Unfortunately, I found all of the instructors to be similar in their teaching style (probably because most of them were trained by the owner) in that they don’t make any effort to get to know new yoga students in their classes and they didn’t make any corrections during the physical practice. Due to the lack of student-engagement, I feel like the instructors were more focused on themselves than on the students, which does not align with how I interpret the “capital-Y Yoga.”

    From my yoga teacher training experience as well as my own pedagogy, I believe the purpose of teaching Yoga is to helpguide, and support students. In other words, it is about the students. It is about inspiring them, encouaging them, and helping them find their confidence. It’s about challenging their bodies, mind, and spirit. It’s about sharing with them how Yoga is more than just the physical practice, and it’s about introducing them to the spiritual and philosophical side. It is about creating a community and it’s about creating leaders.

    There are more definitions of what a Yoga teacher’s purpose is, but these are the ones that stand out to me in this moment. Regardless, as you can note, all of these definitions are about the students. None of the definitions have anything to do with the teacher. 

    Unfortunately, I do not feel like the yoga teachers at the studio I was attending were creating leaders, though. I feel like they were keeping their distance from students by not engaging with them, which then reinforced their position on the hierarchy as a teacher.

    After a month of attending yoga classes at the studio, I had the opportunity to pay a reduced rate for a regular monthly membership. I considered it for a while, but then, when I talked to my girlfriend, real shit came up. After my surprisingly explosive rant to her, I realized this yoga studio was not for me. Their pedagogy does not align with mine, and I would be better off finding a different studio.

    So, how do you find the right studio for you?

    Tip 1. Look at the styles of yoga that a studio offers.

    If you want to take vinyasa classes, you probably don’t want to go to a studio that only offers Kundalini yoga, which is awesome but entirely different.

    Tip 2. Check Out the Studio’s New Membership Packages.

    Yoga studios draw you into becoming a member with new membership deals. The prices of these deals vary, so they may or may not be pretty comparable to paying for one class.

    For example, one class at the yoga studio I attended cost $20, and the new membership cost $39. The new membership was unlimited for the month too, thus, it was worth paying an extra $19 for unlimited classes. I attended classes nearly every day, and it served a greater purpose in my life by exposing me to my local yoga community as well as providing structure in my otherwise structureless summer.

    Some new membership packages, however, are a five or ten class pack, or the unlimited month is pricier. Regardless of what the packages are though, I feel like they are a great way to become acquainted with a studio to see if you want to stick with it. If I had attended only one class, I may not have realized that the studio wasn’t for me. If I wanted to continue to attend that studio after paying for once class, I would’ve had to pay the regular membership price instead, which is a lot more expensive. Thus, I recommend doing new membership deals if it feels right to you.

    If, after a month, you don’t feel connected to the studio, try another studio and take advantage of their new membership deal! On the other hand, if you do feel connected to the studio, become a regular member if that makes sense to you.

    Bonus tip: Most studios seem to use the company MINDBODY for scheduling, prices, class descriptions, and more. You can download the app and do your research there if you like!

    Tip 3. When you attend a class at a new studio, ask these questions:

    When you arrive:

    1. First, how do the front-desk people treat you? Are they pleasant, welcoming, and helpful?
    2. If you meet the owner, do they introduce themselves to you? Do they welcome you?

    The yoga class:

    1. Does the yoga teacher introduce themself to you before class starts, or at the beginning of the class?
    2. Does the yoga teacher take an interest in you?
    3. Do they offer modifications based on your physical abilities?
    4. Do they make verbal corrections and/or hands-on corrections? (The hands-on corrections should be made with your consent and they should be combined with verbal cues. They should also be necessary for either your safety or to come into the true form of the pose. Basically, they should not be touching you just to touch you).
    5. Do they care about the “capital-Y Yoga,” or the Yoga beyond the physical practice, and do they incorporate it into their classes?

    The studio overall:

    1. Is the studio clean?
    2. Is there water?
    3. Is there a bathroom?

    These questions are the most important to me as a new yoga teacher who wants to find a welcoming environment to share and learn more about my passion for Yoga.

    If you’re a member of a yoga studio, please share any other tips you have in the comments below!

    If you’re not a member of a yoga studio, what are your thoughts on yoga studios? Do you practice yoga, and if so, where?

    I used to practice yoga by myself in my living room, which I still do, especially when I’m practicing the classes I make. I really love the energy from doing yoga with others though.

    xx Vic

  • Yoga

    What Yoga Is Really About

    I’m finally resting my head on my pillow after a long day in the city. It was a great day, don’t get me wrong, but it was also long.

    I went to the city to teach a community class at the studio I graduated from. I wasn’t very nervous; in fact, I was calm and I felt prepared, unlike how I felt when I auditioned to sub at a studio local to me. Because I was auditioning at that time, I was so nervous about how the studio owners were going to like my class. I had also not taught people aside from my mom in a month.

    Well, that audition went well and I’m now on their sub list. My community class in the city went well too, but something happened that inspired me to write this post.

    The community class I led consisted of five people, one of them being my darling girlfriend. All of the students were engaged and connecting their breath to their movements, which was awesome. I made adjustments, offered props, and I provided a ton of verbal support. Everyone seemed to enjoy the class, especially because they were all smiling at the end and thanked me several times. Well, everyone except for one student who had spent a majority of the class disregarding my instruction.

    First of all, one does not have to do every single thing a teacher says to do. If you are tired, you are welcome to rest. If something hurts, which it shouldn’t, but if it does, you can get out of a pose. You don’t have to do the hardest version of a pose either, you can do modifications that are offered.

    I feel like these are the general guidelines for how students act in a class. One student in my community class, as I said before, did not behave in this manner.

    I offered her a prop to more safely do a pose, but she quickly moved it away from her the second I took a step back. I then said that there is nothing wrong with probs, I use them all of the time. I should have added that the props are there to support you and to allow you to come into the true form of pose that is right for your body. Even if I did say that though, I don’t know if it would have made a difference. She hardly touched the props.

    For the inversion, I instructed everyone to put their legs up the wall and to release their hands by their sides. She had her arms crossed the entire time, which to me is an uptight gesture.

    During the entire class, she added some of her own poses that made things a little more challenging. Some of them were minor while others were a little more noticeable, such as doing dancer when that was not part of the class. Her decision to add her own poses was most notable during the final stretches and savasana though. She did her own stretches, completely disregarding my instruction, and she never took savasana. At one point I thought she was going to do an inversion. The old camp counselor/tennis instructor in me walked up to her and advised her not to go upside down. She claimed she was stretching so I moved on and focused on the people who were participating in my class, but it was so unexpected. I felt like I was chastising a kid rather than an adult in her twenties, or possibly even older.

    This experience caused me to remember what the “capital-Y Yoga” is really about.

    Yoga is not about pushing yourself during every class to go the deepest in a pose. Yoga is also not about being able to do the hardest poses.

    I’m a teacher, although a new one, but I’m not flexible nor can I do most advanced poses. I don’t really enjoy inversions and the tendinitis in my elbow from my tennis-playing days makes arm balances really uncomfortable. I don’t do chaturanga because it requires a ton of arm strength I don’t yet have, and it also flares up my tendinitis.

    Basically, I’m not the typical example of a yoga teacher because I can’t or I don’t do the “fancy” poses. You won’t see me post a photo of myself doing a deep backbend or an arm balance right now, but I’m okay with that. That mentality is part of the true, “capital-Y Yoga.”

    On the first day of my yoga training, one of my instructors said:

    Yoga is about getting with what is.

    In the case of what my body is capable of, I am content with what my body can do during a yoga practice. I focus on what I can do, rather what I cannot. Besides, I don’t have to be able to do all of the hard poses to be able to teach them. Plus, I am grateful that I’m even able to do the asana yoga practice because I’m able-bodied.

    It is worth noting, however, that the asana practice is only the third limb from the bottom of the Eight Limbs of Yoga. In other words, the asana practice is not the most important part of the “capital-Y Yoga.”

    Lastly, and maybe most importantly about the practice of Yoga, if you can do all of the hardest asanas but you are a jerk, you are not doing the real Yoga. You’re just doing gymnastics.

    The student in my community class, while she was or wasn’t doing the real Yoga is besides the point…what I think is important though is whether I was doing the real Yoga.

    I feel like I did practice the real Yoga because I was patient and accepting of her and I ensured that she was safe. I taught her what I knew and I supported her to the best of my abilities. As a new teacher who does not have a rapport with the students because this was the only time I taught them, I believe I did all that I could do.

    Plus, I don’t know her situation. As my girlfriend pointed out, maybe she can’t afford more challenging classes, or maybe she doesn’t want to pay for it. Perhaps she has an inability to relax and surrender. It’s possible her yoga practice is the only area of her life where she feels competent, so by me offering props, she felt I was insulting her. On the other hand, maybe she is a perfectionist and believes she is a failure if she uses props.

    Basically, there are tons of possibilities as to why someone would focus so much on doing poses how they think they should look as well as not participating in the relaxing and surrendering portion of the class. That is not my business though. If she was a regular, I would definitely spend a little more time with her to get to know her, but that is not the case unfortunately.

    This student also reminded me that everyone comes to Yoga from a different place. For me, I was attracted to Yoga as another form of exercise, but one that provides coping mechanisms for anxiety and grief. For others, it may be because their partner is doing it, because it’s trendy, because they want to lose weight, because they want to become more flexible, etc. I don’t know what that student’s reason for doing yoga, but it seemed that she was interested more moving rather than staying still. People come to yoga for all different reasons, but they may fall in love with the philosophy and spirituality of Yoga, as I did.

    So…I hope that the student I had eventually finds the “capital-Y Yoga.” I also hope that you learned a little bit of what Yoga is, and perhaps you can take some of this knowledge into your own lives by honoring and getting with what is.

    xx Vic

  • Speaking My Mind

    Doing My Dharma (Rat-Race Chronicles)

    I’m taking the train instead of driving today, which is pretty nice because I can relax and write a little bit about what’s been on my mind lately.

    The yoga training program has been exhausting me, thus I missed writing this week. I also have been really missing my girlfriend. We have conflicting schedules at the moment so we only get to see each other for about three hours once or twice a week. I realize this is more contact than some relationships get but regardless, it’s still difficult.

    In addition to these emotional and physical stressors, I’ve been thinking about what I want to do after this training more because the graduation date is near. I’ve also been thinking about what I need to do to support myself. I want to apply to part-time positions and to teach yoga on the side while I apply to graduate schools.

    I’ve really been procrastinating the graduate program part, not because I don’t want to go to grad school but because I wish I didn’t want to go to grad school. I know it’s going to be a lot of hard work, regardless of the field I pursue. It’s also going to take a lot of work to get into a program. My girlfriend believes I’m afraid, which I definitely am…so this is where the “capital-Y, Yoga,” as my instructor calls it, comes in. I need to start taking the lessons I’ve been learning through Yoga philosophy and my asana practice into my everyday life, particularly into my dharma.

    Dharma is a Sanskrit word that means something along the lines of purpose or duty. Right now, my short-term dharma is to do the work to figure out what my next move is. Additionally, from my perspective right now, I believe my over-arching dharma is to teach.

    Next week I only have two days of yoga training so I will have an ample amount of time to study for my exam as well as to apply for job opportunities and take my higher education more seriously. Next Sunday is my deadline for graduate program research. I want to find three programs I am interested in.

    Is there anything you’ve been procrastinating that you want to work on too? Let me know in the comments below!

    xx Vic

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