It’s almost the end of January…how has everyone’s 2020 been going?
Thus far, 2020 has completely taken my breath away!
But seriously, I haven’t been able to breathe. I have two inhalers for asthma that has developed as a result of a bacterial infection in my sinuses.
My sinuses and lungs have been an issue for a month now. It began with bronchitis, then a false diagnosis of strep throat, a visit to an allergist, and finally, an ear-nose-throat specialist. I’m currently back on antibiotics and I’m hoping that all of this inflammation will finally go away.
My inability to breathe has been a very…enlightening experience. I don’t think I ever took breathing for granted, however, I am now even more grateful that I have an overall healthy respiratory system.
These health issues have impacted my ability to go about my daily routine, such as working out and teaching yoga. Even talking and walking has been difficult because I’ve been gasping and coughing for oxygen. It’s also been extremely frustrating going to different doctors every week in the hopes that they can figure out what is going on with my body.
Although I haven’t been able to practice the physical aspect of yoga lately, I’ve been revisiting the more philosophical part. As a yoga teacher, I’m reminded not only of the importance of breath but also the importance to pause. Literally. Because moving too fast and too much left me breathless. After the hustle and bustle of the holidays, pausing to rejuvenate is so important.
One of the many benefits of pausing recently is that it has allowed me an opportunity to reflect. I’ve been reflecting on my accomplishments and I’ve been considering what I still want to do. I’ve also been researching how I can accomplish my desires.
This is all to say…I’m ready to make some big changes this year. I don’t know how to go about all that I want to do, and I don’t know if I’ll be able to do all that I want to do…but I am eager to transition from how I want to feel in 2020, to actually making decisions that would get me there.
The yoga class I took yesterday explored the “manifestation current” of the chakra system. For those of you that don’t know what the heck I’m talking about, the chakra system is the philosophy that there are energetic centers along our spines and each center is affiliated with different qualities. For example, the third-eye chakra (the space in between your eyebrows) correlates to intuition and visualization. Ideally, all the energetic centers should be balanced, however, most people’s chakras are not balanced all the time.
The “manifestation current” of the chakra system can be applied to achieving a dream. This current begins at the crown of the head with a wish/idea/feeling, it travels down the spine, and at the root chakra, or at the base of the spine, the dream manifests. Obviously, there are many processes in between. The in-between is probably the most thrilling part of the whole journey!
I began 2020 at the crown chakra- primarily focused on feelings I desire rather than specific, concrete goals. Being forced to pause because of my respiratory issues has allowed me to begin to visualize experiencing those feelings, so I moved down to the third-eye chakra. Without even realizing it, I’ve already traveled to the throat chakra because I’ve begun to vocalize what I’ve visualized with my parents and with my boyfriend to get their feedback and insight. I suppose I’m at the heart chakra now, which is the center of the chakra system. It also means I’m slowly approaching the part where I start taking action.
I’m both excited and terrified of this part because I’m afraid to feel unstable. I’m afraid of what I don’t know. I’m afraid I will handle change as terribly as I did when I graduated college…I’m afraid that I will be too hard on myself and thus, get in my own way.
At the end of the day though, I don’t want my fears to prevent me from pursuing what feels right to me so…I’m going to be trying some new things this year. Hopefully, I will soon be able to say that I’m breathless not from my respiratory issues, but from my excitement for all that I have been working toward.
What has been leaving you breathless from excitement lately? Please let me know 🙂
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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!
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.
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.
I wrapped up my first week of yoga teacher training on Friday, and tomorrow I am beginning week two. Thus far, the training has been an emotional experience because I keep having to confront my low-confidence. The areas where my confidence has been challenged the most are 1) inversions, or poses where your head is below your heart, and 2) teaching.
I’ve noticed just in my first week of training how most of the time, whether it be in asanas (poses) or in teaching, confidence is essential to success. While physical ability and knowledge are important too, confidence is mandatory. I think this holds true in most areas of life.
This theme of “confidence” became apparent on the second day of training when I was trying to do an L-handstand. First of all, I did not expect myself to do any types of handstands throughout this training, but I surprised myself by trying it and successfully doing it on the first day with the guidance of the instructor. On Thursday, I attempted to get into the inversion on my own, considering that I’ve been executing it everyday with the help of someone. Unfortunately, when everyone was doing inversions easily, I became nervous and afraid to do it on my own. It wasn’t that I didn’t think I was strong enough, I just didn’t feel confident. Eventually, the instructor helped me but I spent the remainder of the class silently crying. I was upset that I was too afraid to do something I know how to do on my own. On the last day of training that week, during the inversion portion, I had the instructor help me the first time and the second time I got into the inversion on my own!
The doubt I have in my abilities is probably a combination of the unfamiliarity I have with the poses as well as the intimidation I feel toward the challenging postures. A majority of the class consists of dance students, so they are probably more comfortable with contorting their bodies into different shapes and they are also more comfortable with physical challenges. Although I’ve been practicing yoga daily, I haven’t even been doing it for a year yet and aside from yoga, I have not had to be this in-tune with my body. I spent most of college not doing any physical activity. Before college, I played and taught tennis, but that type of physical exertion is so different from dance and yoga.
The second time my confidence was challenged was when I taught my first mini class on sun salutations. Once I thought I messed up in my instruction, my lack of confidence consumed me, causing the rest of my instruction to be quiet and full of uncertainty. I know from my experience with my thesis, job, and public speaking courses that I gain confidence from being an expert and with tons of practice. By the end of the training, I expect to be a confident and loud-spoken teacher.
For my first week of training, I recognize how everything I’m doing is out of my comfort zone, but I am doing it anyway. That in itself is admirable, and I need to give myself more credit. In fact, on the first day of training, one of the dancers found out I wasn’t a dancer so she asked me why I was doing the yoga training. I don’t know if she was asking from a place of cruelty like…why bother doing yoga if you aren’t a dancer? Or if she was asking simply because she just wanted to know how I found out about it and what drew me in but…it’s cool that I don’t have a dance background because I bring something unique to the group as well as to future classes I teach.
I am proud of myself for continuing to try things I’m scared of and for having an adventurous spirit. I’ve never followed an expected path such as being a dancer with a side gig as a yoga instructor or studying economics with a math/finance/stat/accounting/business minor. I studied economics and women’s and gender studies, and I’ve never met anyone else with that combination before. I’m also a “normal” person (a non-dancer) that is aspiring to be a yoga instructor because I wanted to learn more and deepen my own practice that has transformed my life and continues to transform my life. That’s amazing.
Anyway…I want to write a blog at the end of every week to reflect and to set an intention for the upcoming week. I’m doing this specifically for the yoga training to ensure that I gain the most from my experience, but perhaps I’ll continue to do it afterward too.
My intention for the second week is to practice confidence and to meditate on the confidence I want to cultivate. I also want to practice teaching sun salutations and study the asanas so I feel more comfortable with them from a teacher’s perspective.
Do you have any reflections for this past week? What are your intentions for this week?