• Yoga

    Some Challenges of Being a New Yoga Instructor

    I’ve been teaching yoga for about two months now, isn’t that crazy?

    Anyway, teaching has been going really well. I work at an awesome community center at 5:45am on Fridays, which is very early, but it’s a wonderful way to start the day. The women I teach leave feeling empowered and I leave feeling energized. Serving as a yoga instructor is all that I thought it would be, and more. I’m so grateful to be able to teach, especially because yoga job opportunities seemed bleak when I graduated.

    While I love teaching yoga, I’ve come across a few challenges in the last two months that I want to explore. I’d like to find some solutions so if any of you have suggestions, please comment below!

    Some Challenges of Being a New Yoga Instructor

    1. Engaging with students

    I feel hypocritical to acknowledge this yet also self-aware, but I have somehow fallen into the trap of doing what I’ve criticized yoga teachers for doing, which you can read in this previous post.  To summarize, I don’t know my students’ names and lately, I haven’t been offering individualized modifications.

    I learned to teach yoga without using my own mat so I would do minimal demonstrations. Now, I bring my mat with me and I tend to find myself hovering on it rather than walking around and looking at my students’ bodies. Last week I left my mat at home to hinder me from demonstrating, but I still had a difficult time engaging with my students.

    Perhaps I feel dissuaded from offering individualized modifications since the last few times I did it, one student, in particular, was resistant to it and basically ignored me. This isn’t an excuse not to offer modifications to other students though. This week I aspire to look at bodies more closely so I can make recommendations.

    In regards to not knowing my students’ names…I just need to learn them. I excused myself for a while for not knowing their names because the class is so early in the morning and people aren’t particularly talkative or because nobody seemed to be a regular. Now, I finally have a group of regulars and there are only four peoples’ names I don’t know. I will learn them this week.

    2. Connecting to the local yoga community 

    I’m unsure how to resolve this other than getting a membership at a local studio. To be honest, I don’t want to do that because yoga memberships are expensive and I don’t know how much I’d use it since my schedule is so volatile these days. I have a membership at the community center I work at and I barely go as it is!

    I’d love to connect with the yoga community where I work but it’s difficult to do so because I teach so early in the AM so no other teachers or students are present. Most of the yoga classes at the community center are later in the morning, which so far has been when I’m working. They also don’t have classes later than 7pm and during my last job, I was still working at that time. Once I have a regular schedule I can probably figure out how to attend yoga classes at the center regularly. Until then, I think I have to rely on an online yoga community and the community I create with my students.

    3. Integrating spirituality into classes

    Since I’m not working at a yoga studio, there isn’t much spiritual integration in yoga classes I’ve attended at the community center. This is a little frustrating since I’ve become more interested in the spiritual nature of Yoga rather than the physical practice. Currently, I don’t even “Om” in class. I hope to integrate this by the end of the year and then teach classes that incorporate the chakras. More research is necessary to do this but I think it’d be awesome!

    4. Maintaining a strong personal practice

    As a result of limited community class availability, as well as dealing with my own hectic schedule, it has become difficult to maintain my own daily practice.

    Oh, an injury has discouraged me from maintaining a daily practice too. I somehow injured my right hip flexor about two weeks ago, which was extremely painful and debilitating for over a week. The pain woke me up in the middle of the night and I had to pick up my leg to get into the car…it was horrible. The pain is minimal now, but the muscle is still tender and healing, so I have to be extra cognizant of how I feel during my practice.

    I would be less upset by the sudden inconsistency of my practice if I at least meditated and/or journaled instead, but I find that if I don’t do the Asana, I rarely take the initiative to do the more spiritual work.

    A yoga community would help foster a regular and strong yoga practice, which is super important to have as a teacher. The classes I take from others, whether that be via YouTube, an app, or in the presence of a teacher, inspire the classes that I teach. Due to the weakening of my yoga practice, I have not been as inspired as I’d like to be. I’ve actually become a little jaded with the classes that I do teach because I struggle with switching classes up. Since I’m not working now, I need to carve out time weekly to take yoga classes from others. Whenever I do resume working, I will have to determine how to continue a strong practice.

    5. Continuing the study of Yoga

    I believe that continuing to study Yoga, and by that I mean the Eight Limbs of Yoga, excluding Asana, is the most important activity a yoga teacher should do. Yes, I can learn more about the other limbs by taking classes, but I think learning is done more effectively when you’re studying traditionally, ie reading lots of books.

    I have at least two Yoga books I want to finish reading, one of which is all about the chakras so that would be useful for the chakra series I want to teach. I have other Yogic books I want to read when I finish those two books too…it’s just a matter of carving out the time to read them.

    It’d also be helpful if I had a yoga mentor to sit and talk with too. One of the yoga teachers that ran the training is local to me so maybe I’ll reach out to her to talk about the Sutras or something.

     

    So…I suppose that even when you “graduate” from yoga teacher training, or from University, or from anything…there is always more learning to do. Being an expert in anything is a lot of work because the world is always changing thus there is always more to learn about the present in addition to the past.

    It’s helpful that I spent some time to write about the challenges I have as a teacher because this helps to hold myself accountable. Again, I’d love any suggestions anyone has to offer too!

    xx Vic

     

     

  • beauty and fashion

    8 Fall Festive Outfits of the Day #OOTD

    Autumn is my favorite season, thus my wardrobe has been very autumn-esque since August! I always take poor quality photos of my outfits, but I haven’t shared any of them on my blog since 2014!! So today, before the holiday season takes over, I thought it’d be fun to share some of my favorites this season. One day I will take photos with better quality and with better lighting, but in the meantime, bear with me.

    Hocus Pocus Forever

    My girlfriend kindly surprised me with this Binx bag from Disney’s recent Hocus Pocus collection. I’m obsessed with this bag and I’ve been using it nonstop. It’s the perfect mix of eccentric and practical.

    The shirt is also from Disney’s Hocus Pocus collection! The front says: Don’t light the black flame candle, and the back is pictured below.

    My sister has glow-in-the-dark shirt Disney Halloween shirt. Disney had some awesome gear this year!

    Plaid Party!

    The outfit above features my pastel pumpkin-colored pants from Hollister! I purchased these about three years ago when my sister was working at Hollister and I was working at Abercrombie. I matched my pants with an orange stone necklace my late grandmother had given me. Peep my green Halloween socks with witches!

    The second plaid outfit above is newer. I purchased the pants from Target’s latest collection. They are comfy yet kind of stiff and loose…basically, the quality isn’t amazing but they will do for now. They look very cute though!

    My shirt is from Abercrombie from about a year ago. My bag is Binx obviously, but in this photo, you can see my witch hand sanitizer case more clearly! That hand sanitizer case was part of a set from Bath and Body Works, the other one being a vampire, which my sister has. They have magnets inside so they connect when they’re next to each other, it’s very cute. Also, I’m holding my Buffy comic book because Buffy is the best thing ever.

    Working Girl

    These next few outfits aren’t all super fall-esque, but they’re very cute!

    This was my first day of work outfit! It features old pants that need to be donated and my mom’s old shirt and sweater. The necklace is a jasper and turquoise necklace, which matches the details on my shirt.

    img_2577.jpg

    My mom got me the pants above recently for work! They’re from Kohl’s and they’re quite funky since they’re a black and white checkered pattern and ankle-length. They’re stretchy, comfy, and high-waisted, and I felt fabulous in this look! The shirt is also from Kohl’s but it’s about four years old now.

    Casual Working Girl

     

    The sweater above is my mom’s old sweater, and I really love it. The style is fun and perfect for fall. I wore it with my light grey jeans, which remind me of scarecrows because they’re frayed at the ankles, from TJ Maxx.

    This look is one of my favorites! I bought the earrings from the yoga studio I attended in the summer. They’re blue on the outside and orange in the center. I matched the earrings with the pendant that my step-grandma’s mom had, and this orange shirt my mom got me from the clearance section at Old Navy!

    The sweater is my mom’s and the pants are the same grey ones from TJ Maxx.

    Halloween!

    My Halloween look this year included my witch sweater from TJ Maxx and my Buffy cosplay coat from Hot Topic’s Buffy 20-year Anniversary collection last year! It has beautiful details that only Buffy fans would understand. I also wore Halloween bat earrings from Betsy Johnson, but I didn’t snap a pic of them.

    Those are all my fall-festive outfits! Did you like this series? Should I bring it back?

    Let me know in the comments below!

    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

  • me sitting on a tree stump
    Speaking My Mind

    Life Update: Jobs, Doctoral Programs, and Teaching Yoga!

    I wanted to take some time to update y’all on my life because although this whole website is about my life, I don’t really post details of my everyday life anymore. Some interesting and cool things that I’ve been writing about since my senior year of college as well as in my oracle reading posts have been happening though!

    As of this week, I have two job interviews. One of them is today, and I have another one next week. The cool thing is that I’m actually interested in these jobs! It’s so exciting to have some potential opportunities in jobs that I actually want to do. I spent so much time my junior and senior year trying to put myself into a box of what I thought I was supposed to do and want, but it didn’t fit at all and it also didn’t feel good. While I am still on my dharma journey, or I’m still figuring out my purpose in life, I feel more excited about the jobs I’ve been applying to, and perhaps that’s translating into getting some interviews! I’m interested in research jobs because I’m a naturally curious and studious person, and I believe I’d have the most content life doing research. This brings me to my next update…

    …I am officially preparing to attend a doctoral program next fall! I am aiming to finish my GRE books by the beginning of September to provide ample time to practice until I take the test sometime in November. I reached out to my mentor from my first gender studies class, and she was super helpful! She’s doing an art history PhD program now and she knows someone who’s doing a gender studies PhD program that she’s going to put me in contact with. I’m eager to converse with the other woman about her experiences in the field thus far! I am still a little wary that I won’t be prepared in time for the applications, but I’m going to do my best by making some deadlines and goals for myself.

    The last update is that I have an audition for a yoga job at a studio near me! I’m excited and nervous, but hopefully, it’ll go really well. The MindBody App is an app that most yoga studios use for scheduling, and I’m listed as a teacher for the class I’m teaching, aka my audition. It was surprising and awesome to see my name there! Then, next week, I have the community class I’m teaching in NY, which will be good practice for me.

    The discipline and structure I’ve incorporated into my life, as well as the insight provided by my oracle cards, have been really helpful toward having these opportunities. The oracle cards have encouraged me to look at my life in a more positive light, and because they are so useful for reflection, I feel like they’ve facilitated the growth and positivity that I’ve harnessed. Daily yoga classes at a studio have also been helpful because it forces me to get up and start my day. I’m also forced to be around other people, which is super important for me to stay in a more positive headspace. Then, I added the library and Starbucks to my routine to do my GRE studying, PhD program research, and job applications. This forced me to get out of the house and encouraged me to focus, which has allowed me to make some progress towards my goals, which makes me feel better overall!

    So, that’s what has been going on with me these days. It’s nothing too crazy, nevertheless, it’s exciting and rewarding. Hopefully, some of these interview opportunities will become job opportunities, but if they don’t, that’s okay! I’ll have other interview opportunities coming my way. In the meantime, I want to be patient, be grateful for where I am now, and accept what is. I want to practice santosha, which is the Sanskrit word for contentment. It’s so hard to be content when things are going awry, but that’s when it’s most important to be content. Find contentment in discontent.

    So, I want to know…how can you practice more santosha in your life? I feel like this is a hard question, but it’s important to ponder it.

    xx Vic

  • Speaking My Mind

    Decisions, Decisions

    I’m now a certified vinyasa yoga instructor! I’m so proud of myself and so grateful to have been able to earn this certification. It has been life-changing and eye-opening.

    I’ve been wanting to write about my experience for forever, but the last two weeks have been unusually busy. Two weeks ago it was July 4th weekend and I was studying for my yoga final and spending some much-needed quality time with my girlfriend. Last week was the final week of my training and then we had a party to celebrate on Friday. Saturday I attended my step-grandma’s nephew’s wedding (weird? I know, but it was fun!) and then my parents left for a 10-day vacation. My weeks aren’t usually this eventful.

    Now that I’ve graduated both from college and this training program, my days have slowed down a bit, thus I’ve resumed the arduous and depressing task of applying for jobs! Also, yesterday I spontaneously purchased a new member pass to a local yoga studio to become more acquainted with the yoga community. I also am hoping to teach at this yoga studio. I have some other studios in mind too though in case it doesn’t pan out.

    Something needs to pan out though because I desperately need to work. The stress that comes with job applications has unfortunately returned, despite it being managed better due to Yoga as well as my wonderful girlfriend’s insight. I’m so pleased I got a month pass to attend an unlimited amount of yoga classes though because it will provide some much-needed structure until I figure out the job stuff. Plus I love yoga and I am trying different styles of yoga through this studio! It’s awesome.

    Some things I’ve been thinking about lately, other than jobs, have been doctorate programs and whether to create a website just for yoga stuff.

    In regards to the first thing…I still have to look at program curriculums but right now, I am interested in pursuing a doctorate in Women’s and Gender Studies. I feel nervous for being interested in that type of program though because it’s a relatively new field and aside from academia, I imagine job prospects to be bleak. That may not be the case but considering I have been having a difficult time getting a job with a degree in economics as well as WGS, I expect to deal with similar or worse challenges if I specialize in WGS only. On the other hand, because it’s a new field, I could be part of groundbreaking work such as helping to establish it as a notable field as well as being one of the first teachers in WGS to have studied WGS (currently, most WGS professors have diverse backgrounds of study ranging from Africana studies to economics to sociology).

    The other thing I’ve been pondering about is the development of a professional website. This website that I’ve been using for four or five years now is quite personal, so I feel uncomfortable sharing it with people that I know and using it to advertise my business…it’s not a business website anyway, it’s my personal website. I should probably make a professional yoga website but websites are not cheap and as I’ve mentioned before, I need a job.

    The lack of a job is making me nervous for next month because I don’t know what I will do. Will I be working a 9-5 an hour away from home? When will I have time to do yoga then? Will I get a job that will force me to relocate? How can I advertise for my yoga services if I can’t afford to make the website and if I have a job and can afford to make the website, how will I provide services if I’m working full-time?

    I’m uncertain when I should invest money to make money and when I should save it I guess. I mean..I invested money to get the training so maybe I should save it now and make a free yoga website until I am able to upgrade? Any thoughts?

    I keep revisiting my dream life scenario where I have my PhD so I am able to conduct research and teach, and then also teach yoga. To achieve this dream life though, I’ll definitely have to undergo some uncomfortable shifts of time-management and I’ll also have to do things I don’t enjoy. Or…as what Yoga philosophy argues…I may not expect to enjoy it but I should find contentment in what I’m doing regardless.

    I really want to write posts about yoga, which may be more suitable for a yoga-focused website. One cool thing though is that I will be able to write for a yoga teacher’s website! I was introduced to her through the famous yoga Facebook group I always mention and she was looking for guest writers! Whenever my article is posted on her site, I’ll let y’all know!

    xx Vic

  • Woman kissing the cheek of another woman with trees and grass in the background.
    Yoga

    Yogi-In-Training: Trust

    My second week of yoga has come and gone, and now I only have three weeks left! The fourth week consists of only two days of training and the final week is testing. So technically, tomorrow begins the last full week of training!

    I’ve made improvements in my confidence since last week! For example, I haven’t cried this past week and I have changed my perspective in my class by honoring where my body is at rather than criticizing myself. I have also come out of my comfort zone a bit by talking more with my peers and now I eat lunch and talk with some of them.

    Last Wednesday we went into the city and we did acro-yoga which is acrobatics combined with yoga. It requires serious trust in your partners in order to execute the poses safely. I challenged myself by trying things I otherwise would have never done, but I like that about this experience because I’ve been challenging myself constantly. By doing so, I surprise myself with what I am capable of. It’s quite satisfying.

    My latest surprise was when I did a forearm stand. So far, I’ve only been able to do it with an assist and I haven’t been able to hold it, but I hope to be able to improve next week. I’ve realized that not only do these challenging poses require confidence, but they also require trust, whether that be in yourself or whoever/whatever is supporting you.

    Evidently, this training has allowed me to learn more than just yoga, and it’s fantastic. I’m excited to graduate and to see where my new certificate will take me. Where will I teach what I’ve learned? What will I do to continue to learn?

    If I could do anything with my life…I would want to teach and write, whether that be for my own business, for research, or for a book. I would like to travel internationally and domestically to teach and to learn from other people and cultures too.

    I can do anything with my life though so it’s just a matter of how I want to make this happen and what opportunities will arise that will shape my life. I often feel a little skeptical of how the universe unfolds but I know I have to trust that I will be where I need to be.

    How was this past week for you? What are you looking forward to this week? What are your intentions for this week?

    xx Vic

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