• Speaking My Mind

    If I Wasn’t Afraid, I Would…

    • Move out of state
    • Take a trip
    • Choose a grad school program
    • Apply to a grad school  program
    • Light a match
    • Drive on the highway
    • Chant more
    • Be confident
    • Be positive
    • Introduce more “yogic” things to my yoga class
    • Write a book
    • Develop my own business
    • Make malas
    • Reconnect with mentors
    • Pursue my passions, even if I’m uncertain where they will lead

    What does your list look like?

    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

    Four Weeks Later

    My surgery was about a month ago, if not longer, and it went well. It was a 20 minute procedure and I wasn’t in pain until the following day. The following day and all the days after that were miserable though. 

    My mom and sister coddled me back to good health. They wheeled me around in the wheelchair, took me to class/tutoring/office hours (I was taking a summer class and unfortunately couldn’t live in my apartment for awhile due to the surgery), helped me out around the house, helped me wash my hair, etc. They were incredible, especially considering that I was a whiny ass sometimes because I hated being unable to function normally and I felt like my summer was taken away. At least the Olympics began during my recovery so when I wasn’t doing academic things, I was focused on watching the Olympics with my sister. 

    Unfortunately, the week of my final exam was terrible. I was finally feeling better and able to hobble around a bit so I stayed in my apartment to focus on studying a couple days before the exam. I was stressed because the last exam I took, I did poorly. I didn’t do as poorly as that time in calculus when I thought I at least got a B but got a D instead, but I was disappointed nonetheless. Especially since I wanted to ace this class. That was the whole purpose of taking this class in the summer! After my second exam, it would’ve been difficult to obtain even a B+. 

    So a couple days before my final, I sat in my room in my apartment studying/trying to focus on studying. Then I took my exam, which was tough despite the days I spent in solitude studying. The exam was only two hours and I don’t think it was incredibly challenging, but I kept second-guessing myself because my math didn’t make sense to me. I ended up being the last person in the room taking the exam. 

    Immediately upon exiting the building, I burst into tears. Not cute, happy tears, but hysterical, ugly tears with tons of snot. What made it worse was that I only had one tissue and the bus back to my apartment wasn’t coming for another hour. I didn’t want to walk home since it was late and I was only able to hobble. 

    I wanted to talk to someone about my exam to help calm me down, but I didn’t know who…I definitely wasn’t going to call my mom because slobbering on the phone to her would’ve made me feel worse. (She usually gets hysterical when I’m hysterical). Sometimes things happen at perfectly convenient times though. 

    Right after I sat down on a bench, I got a text from a guy I met on Tinder last September. We never actually met up. I blew him off a couple times, not that we ever had serious plans to meet up anyway. Since Septemner, we’ve texted on and off…maybe once or twice every couple of months. He had texted me the day before my final so he knew I had a final, but he didn’t know when it was. His text came at the perfect time. 

    I spent the next hour crying and texting him on the bench in the courtyard. He was perfect to talk to because we aren’t close at all so I didn’t care if I seemed lame by being so upset and because there was so much to learn about him, I was able to distract myself effectively by getting to know him. 

    Then the bus finally came and I texted him until 1am in between self-pity shots of shitty pink lemonade vodka and episodes of Angel. 

    The following day, I felt like crap and not necessarily from the vodka (although I didn’t feel super from that either) but because my doom and gloom attitude about my exam suffocated me. It was also a glum day outside, which tends to heighten my bad moods. 

    I ended up missing the bus to work and having to pay for an Uber. At that point, I was sufficiently upset and pissed at myself and I just wanted to go home. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to do that, so I got an iced coffee. That’s when my day spun around. 

    My summer coffee choice has been Dunkin Donuts’ Almond Joy iced coffee, especially after they stopped offering the Pistachio one. In my hometown, they didn’t have the Almond Joy flavor anymore but at school, they fortunately had some left! 

    Coffee is comparable to alcohol to me. I’m sensitive to caffeine so it makes me all hyper and happy. Alcohol makes me feel relaxed and silly, but they both make me feel…better? I’m unsure if that’s the appropriate word but..it’s like, if you’re nervous for a party, you have a drink to loosen up. If I’m having a bad day, I have coffee to pipe me up. 

    So I was at work feeling a little better, especially since the first-years were interesting to talk to. Then I found out I got an A in the class! Which seemed impossible based on my calculations but there was some extra credit involved and possibly a curve so…I was extremely happy. I proceeded to tell the Tinder guy and then I felt silly to have cried so much after my exam. 

    Afterwards, a guy came up to my table at work. I recognized him from when I went to the movies back in June. He worked at the theater and somehow my friends and I had gotten into a discussion about sexual violence in the news with him. When he told me he was attending my university this fall, I insisted he come to orientation to check out my job since I work in this field and since he seemed pretty educated and interested in this work. At the time, he scoffed at the idea of attending orientation but low and behold, he was there! The last orientation of the summer happened to be one of the few days I was working, so I was able to run into him. Then we chatted, he signed up for more information, and got super involved during the part of orientation where we talk about sexual violence. He impressed my boss enough to earn free sunglasses! 

    I love how things work out. 

    When he left, I talked to another guy who complimented my hair. I thought it looked subpar that day so it was nice to have heard otherwise. 

    So yeah..it was a rough week that ended well. That has pretty much been the tone of my summer. It’s been way less social compared to last summer with all the partying and working but..it’s been good nonetheless. 

    I went abroad for the first time, worked two jobs a bit, read a bunch and finished Buffy, completed three credits with an A, and I just returned from a fun trip to Las Vegas! I’m healthy and I haven’t smoked since July so…this is good. Now I just have to finish getting ready for school in a week or so!

    How have your summers been? Comment below!

    x Vic 

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