Tag Archives: teaching

Thank You Mom

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If I am strong, brave, resourceful,
If I know how to laugh with my whole heart,
if I know how to smile at a stranger
and speak to them until they are a friend,
If I know how to work hard in my home
and move with integrity in my world,
If I can speak my truth clearly and fearlessly,
If I can comfort those in need
and discover the solution
where others perceive problems,
If I can see the deeper meaning of all things
and love the essence of this universe,
it is because of you, Mom,
and everything that you taught me.
Thank you, a million times,
thank you.

Generosity for the Self

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Here I am again,
just two days before another workshop,
feeling unprepared, anxious,
a bit panicky
and self-critical, asking myself,
Why didn’t you pace yourself better?
When are you going to grow up 
and stop procrastinating?
The topic of the workshop is generosity.
And as with all things that are important in life,
I must experience it first
before I can hope to teach anyone else about it.
So I start with myself.
I am generous with compassion
for the tired mother
who is trying to make everyone happy
and who often forgets about her own needs in the process.
I blanket her in forgiveness and reassurance.
I let her know that she is worthy of love and happiness
regardless of the outcome.
I remind her that her self-worth is not at stake here
and that she has done the best she can
in the midst of the chaos of daily life.
Okay, this looks good on paper,
but these are just words,
and talk is cheap.
Now let me practice it for real.

Before I Lay My Head Down

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Read man: he is the living poem.
–Vivekananda

I am tired
but there is much to be done
before I lay my head down on the pillow.
I want to be good.
I want to be prepared.
I want to make it through
the long day tomorrow.
If I’m going to make it through,
I need sleep.
But there is so much to be done
before I lay my head down on the pillow.

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I’m teaching a workshop on the practice of gratitude tomorrow, and in keeping with my normal fashion, I waited until tonight to complete the handouts I’ll be giving my students. Forty-one pages later, I’m finally printing the things out, and JEEZ is it taking time! Thank goodness for printers!  Thank goodness for this blanket keeping me warm down in the cold basement.  Thank goodness for all of my craziness, that one day I might know sanity.

I Have the Best Job in the World

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Feeling blessed.
Twenty three souls
came to restorative yoga tonight.
Twenty three souls
gave me permission to touch them,
to help their bodies let go of tension.
It is an honor and blessing
to be with my students in this way,
to be a witness to their unfolding.

I have the best job in the world.

Swirls of Thoughts

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Many thoughts, swirls of thoughts
then remembering what is real.
I take a breath, then another,
close my eyes…what do I feel?

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Only thirteen days until my workshop and I’m now feeling pressed to have everything be more concrete, to find a logical flow and sequence to the material I am presenting, and to make sure that I meet the needs of the workshop attendees–who will certainly arrive in many different shapes and sizes, different ages, different motivations…I’m planning on doing my best to appeal to the various learning styles, and I’m wanting to provide ample time for movement so that no one starts to feel achey or bored or sleepy. I am excited and at the same time overwhelmed.  How can I distill these precious teachings given to us by centuries of wise and compassionate masters into a form that is palatable to today’s western mind?  How can I present the material in such a way that my students will want to continue learning and practicing after the workshop is over?  

Attending to My Own Practice

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Confession:  I don’t practice asana as regularly as I think I should.
Truth:  I am damn busy between being a mom and wife and the seven group classes and two private lessons I teach every week.
Truth: I play Candy Crush Saga, and Lexulous, and Words With Friends, and Word Chums on my iPhone whenever I have a spare moment
Truth: When I can get a nap I’ll take a nap
Truth: Babysitters are expensive

Conclusion:  I probably could practice more often by eliminating iPhone games and napping.  I probably could practice more often by being willing to pay a babysitter to watch my kids so that I can leave the house and attend a group class.  My reasons for not practicing just don’t hold water.  Why am I not practicing more?

This morning I attended Mysore practice for the fourth Sunday since the beginning of May.  I missed two because of my yoga teacher training and then being sick, but other than those two times, I have committed to attending Mysore every Sunday morning so I can get at least one full practice in per week.

After teaching and teaching and still more teaching, it feels wonderful to roll out my mat and just be a student, to have my attention on my own breath and my own body instead of on the breaths and bodies of my students.  There is a certain amount of relief and then exhilaration that arise when I settle into the groove of my practice and flow from pose to pose.  Relief because my body begins to unwind as I bring awareness to places where I was unconsciously holding on.  Exhilaration because I can feel the potential I have to grow in my practice, not just on the physical level, but on the mental, emotional, transpersonal, and spiritual levels as well.

On a few occasions, I have tried rolling out my mat at home, but it’s hard to get a complete practice in unless both kids are napping, which rarely happens.  Do I need to commit to practicing outside the home?  Or can I make peace with the noise and messiness and all the interruptions and practice when my kids are up and about?  Perhaps a combination of home practice and studio practice…

Although I am tired, I feel peaceful.  This morning’s practice gave me just what I needed.  I resolved to not push my injured shoulder too much, and although I felt self-conscious about modifying my sun salutations to avoid all chaturangas, I just went with my instinct and breathed and made the practice my own.  The room was full of bodies which made it very hot, and I found myself sweating and needing to take sips of water now and again.  The girl next to me knew the series much more than I, so I was grateful to have her there; watching her out of the corner of my eye helped me to avoid constantly being stuck looking at the sheets they give the beginners to help them know the sequence.

I finished off with some restorative yoga and then took a shower.  It was almost time for my class, and I felt ready.  It’s amazing how being a student informs my teaching.  I felt on point, much more aware of my students, because I had just spent so much uninterrupted time in my body, time that grounded me and helped me to remember what it feels like to be on the mat, learning.

Grateful right now.  Looking forward to the next practice.  May I overcome inertia, may I ignore all of the excuses my mind creates, may I melt any resistance and attend to my practice more regularly.  I believe the whole world will benefit if I do!

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a student learns.
when she becomes passionate enough about what she has learned,
she feels moved to share this learning with others.
she attempts to teach–
but feels lost in the sea of responsibility that is teacher
out of her element,
she asks to be taught how to teach
and this is a sacred moment indeed.
learning how to teach
her heart opens
humility blossoms
and the earnest drive to serve is born.
the student is now the teacher,
ready to help, to guide, to inspire awakening
this role is powerful, and sometimes causes ego trips of all kinds.
let her still be a student
let her attend to her own practice
and in the netherworld between learning and teaching,
there is simply being and breathing,
and this is a sacred moment indeed.

The Weekend Comes to a Close–and I’m Happy!

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I was gone for most of the weekend for my 500 hour teacher training.  Three hours Friday night, eight hours Saturday, seven hours Sunday.  Today I went straight from Sunday teacher training at Midtown to the studio in Fells Point to teach my 6pm beginner hot vinyasa class.

It was magical.  I learned so much this weekend and I was excited to bring new energy to my students tonight.  One of the main things I focused on was tightening up my dialogue so that the students would have a clearer idea of where they were going, how to find alignment in the poses once they got there, and have the space to just be without me jibber jabbering too much.

One of my teachers this weekend is a young woman who took the 200 hour teacher training with me.  She became a professional yoga teacher within a short time, and has been teaching many classes a week since then.  A few years ago she began training other teachers, helping them to refine their offerings and become more adept at their craft.  I was impressed to see how much she had grown in the seven and a half years since we took our training together; we hadn’t seen a lot of each other during that time and I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I had a little trepidation, afraid that my neuroses would get in the way of me learning from this gal who is younger than I am.  My competitive vein runs deep…my fear of not being as good or as successful even deeper–together they could easily create a huge block to my just looking at this girl, listening, and enjoying being in the same room again after all this time.

Well, I was presently surprised.  In her funny, articulate way, with her disarming smile, I found it easy to listen to her and felt receptive to her ideas and suggestions.  She recommended that we stop demonstrating our poses for our students so that we have more time and energy to devote to really looking at them. Wow. I thought about all of the beginner level classes I teach and the assumption that my students need me to demonstrate or else they’d be lost.  That assumption was blown out of the water tonight when I committed to being very clear in my cues and choosing what I say in relation to what I was seeing my students doing.  No more canned dialogue.  Present moment awareness.  Really looking at my students and noticing if someone needed to make an adjustment, I could give them a short cue and they could handle it themselves.  And I was able to assist more students in their postures so that they could find an alignment that supported optimal breathing and energy flow.  Epiphany: Wow, my students are more capable than I thought they were.  Another epiphany: I’m more capable than I thought I was. Wow.

One of the first things I noticed while teaching the class was that my body was feeling fine the whole time.  No achiness in my hips or shoulders from demonstrating lunges and yoga push ups.  I also felt a much deeper connection to my students, I spoke directly to them, looked them in the eyes.  I connected with them much more than if I had been talking and demonstrating the whole time.

Next teacher training weekend is in April;  I wonder what I’ll learn.  I’m so excited to refine my teaching and bring better quality instruction to my students, to grow into greater potential as someone who assists others in feeling good, being healthy, enjoying the present moment, and knowing how to empower themselves through the practice of yoga.

Here’s another epiphany:  I’m happy!  I’ll say it again:  I’m happy! And one more time:  I’M HAPPY! I’m emphasizing this because I have spent so much time in this blog talking about how depressed I was, and I’m glad for this change.  It’s incredibly refreshing and freeing to acknowledge that I feel happier today than I have felt in a long time.  I’m grateful.  I’m also tired, so I apologize for the terseness.  But maybe it can be enough just to say I’m happy!

Time to meditate and take this tired body off to bed.

Good night!