August 26, 2016
What a year! I am so grateful to have had this year of training and experience to deepen my practice as a yogi and a teacher. Having the opportunity in my professional career to lead programs for youth where I can incorporate yoga as fitness and self-awareness into education and social service has been so much fun. It has solidified my belief that young people need movement and self reflection for their bodies and brains to function at their full potential and to have the capacity to respond to all of their emotions.
During this year, this profession took me away from teaching yoga as much as I was used to but gave me space to learn more about people, trauma, systems, and accessibility. I deepened my knowledge of some dark realities regarding human experience in this world where inequities are real, privilege is overlooked, and barriers are being placed in front of all kinds of folks. All things I am committed to having a better understand of and how I can be an agent in changing them. There came a saturation point, though, where the information and existence of these truths was using all the space in my mind in an unproductive way. I was steeped in the darkness of these truths and could not see how to affect change, how to connect to other people in these truths, or how to take care of myself.
Starting in May, I was invited to join the amazing staff at Samdhana-Karana Yoga (SKY) as a sub and apprentice. This offer was exciting to me as I have never worked for a studio and scary as I often keep my distance from yoga studios and the industry that they can perpetuate. But SKY is not a typical yoga studio. For starters, it is a non-profit. Moreover, the studio has a mission to make yoga accessible to all people and above all it holds the space safe, non-competitive, and promotes having hard conversations around injustices. It does outreach and teaches yoga to all kinds of vulnerable populations.
WHA? Yes, I know.
I had attended workshops and classes at the studio before I came onto staff but it was the invitation to become a part of the community in a bigger way that really opened my eyes to the work that the studio does. I soon accepted a place on staff and continued to devour all the opportunities to teach and learn about yoga and yoga therapy.
Part of this education included learning Restorative Yoga. I had never done much of this kind of yoga and certainly never taught it. My practice, at that time, lived largely in the yang-which was what I thought I needed considering how I spent my work days. I have long thought that I need to sweat things out, push hard, and create space between myself what I am thinking about. I started shadowing a c0-director as she offered a restorative class which meant DOING restorative yoga. At first it made me angry. I was so unhappy at my “real job” that I could not relax, could not stop churning the butter of social services as I lay in a pose for 15-20 minutes. I was just waiting for the next thing to happen. Waiting to be able to not think. After a few weeks of this, I had a break through, stopped churning, and found stillness. It was through this restorative practice I was able to recognize space in my mind and heart for action and could see how I can do the work that I want to be doing in a healthy way.
I then made one hundred spread sheets about how I could transition my working life to healthy. There were a lot of variables: money, day care, stress about money and day care. But the constant seemed clear. Working with SKY helped me recognize courage to transition to full time yoga and wellness teaching.
This part of my journey with yoga has been very profound. Though I have been practicing for almost twenty years and teaching for 5, yoga still brings me new truths and space to grow into. I am so excited to accept all the peace and challenges that this transition will bring. And to incorporate more yin, more restoration into my practice and my teaching.