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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Good Traveler




Lao Tzu said, “A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.”  I would have called BS on the above quote until the day I lost control of my life wheel, while heading towards the life I thought I was meant to live.  I had a plan, a good one, a solid one, and a fun one.  I guess I got too cocky or maybe just a bit too comfortable because the direction I was heading took a major detour, then another, then another, until I was completely lost.  Woody Allen said, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.” If that is true, then I was a true comedy, only I’m pretty sure at some point God stopped laughing as I let go of the wheel and instead of laughter, there must have been a nod of approval as I threw my hands up to receive with Grace.

I used to preach platitudes regarding “going with the flow” and “trusting the Universe”, and while I believed it, I hadn’t had the chance to truly trust the validity of my claims using the spiritual tools I had been learning and teaching for over twenty years through the gift of yoga. While I had used these tools in spurts, during certain isolated experiences, I had not yet had the chance to use them while experiencing a multitude of life changing events exploding.  As I fell down low enough to the point of questioning all I had known to be true, where I found myself feeling as if I was clawing myself out of the depths of my admittedly self-inflicted “Hell”, only to dig myself deeper, I was able to put these tools to good use and they past the test.  

My story isn’t anymore special or different than what many of us experience daily, but the way I navigated through it, is what gave me even more passion behind my life’s mission to help others find that inner strength and belief that they can weather the storms of life as a centered individual, navigating their life map with grace during uncertainty when it feels like they could crash horribly at any moment.  From this, we can create the life we’ve always wanted and with authenticity.

My story begins very white picket fencey if you were to view it on the outside.  I was married, two wonderful children, the fancy possessions, good genetics, a plethora of great friend surrounding me, a career I loved. I had it ALL! I had it all, until the day I decided I wasn’t living my most authentic life. I was lying to myself and everyone else.
I was a hypocrite.  So, I decided I needed to leave my marriage. I jumped off that cliff hurting many people in the process. My reason for leaving,” I just didn’t want to do this anymore, we were more than stuck.” We had tried everything to save it, even a years worth of Puja’s in India for a Happy Married Life.  After 13 years of working part time and being Mom first, I wasn’t worried because I had a plan and part of that plan was my yoga studio business supporting me. It was soon clear, in order for us to separate, the studio had to go too, I had to sell it, years of my heart and soul work I needed to untether, while at the same time unraveling my 13 years with another person. My plan was failing.

Instead of going into “freak out” and “grasping” mode, I felt sort of felt ship wrecked, floating in a sea of uncertainty while I sat in the ebb and flow of the waves, both gentle and calm. I wasn’t sure where the tide was taking me, but I felt love was holding me up.  Plus, I had all my great friends, right?  I had always heard of friend “fall outs” from marriages failing or the perception of what people had of you shifting so much that your relationship with them shifted into the shitter as you look less desirable as your crap is flung all around you.  People have their own problems and don’t want to be hit by yours too, so people bow out, some gracefully, others not so much. Ouch, that hurt.

At least I had my health and my kids were happy and adjusting well. Until I went to the Doctor. Nope, here began the health concerns. Great. Well, at least my kids were happy and healthy. The greatest blessing there was and all I knew for certain.  I chose gratitude.

Then came the final straw. I had fallen in-love way too soon to someone I thought was the love of my life, a gift from God above for all of my hard work during my 40 years. That ended as quickly as it started, worse, I felt like a fool thinking of this Love and the friends who walked away, so much so that my faith in the Universe was questioned and I thought about pulling out of my yoga career completely at this point because what did I have to teach anymore? I lost control where I thought I had already let go. 


  After pulling myself off my living room floor after 4 days of the ugly cry and questioning every part of my spiritual beliefs because I felt so dark, I was ready to move on. My view had shifted towards something more real, less fluffy, and more exciting than before.  I returned back to the ebb and flow of the tide, practicing my breathing, my mantra, and the art of uncertainty.  If living in the moment means trusting all will unfold if I just listen to my heart, then that’s what I chose to do. As I have learned to do this, amazing opportunities have fallen into my life regarding my career, people have walked into my life or stood up at the forefront who love me, crap flinging and all, replacing those who walked out and I love my own company more than I ever have. As far as plans, I don’t have any, except for a logical time frame making sure all my basic needs are met and I trust they all will be, because what I have realized, as I sit in my ocean of opportunities being gently rocked by the waves, is that I have all that I need to explore this map and this time there is no point A to point B, instead, it is an adventure of staying present, trusting, and having gratitude for each breath I take above the dirt and each day above the dirt is a day of creating the life that serves my higher purpose. I’m pretty sure Loa Tzu would consider me a worthy traveler now and God is no longer laughing, but gently placing all this abundance and joy along my path.

The life map is as simple as it is complex to follow. Obstacles on the path are there to steer us in another direction. Gently take the wheel without controlling and lean into reality, dig deep, be still, breathe, be open for the tide to take you in a direction you never expected, trust and be grateful for the opportunity to recreate that which has exploded.  Life is an adventure and adventures are not meant to be controlled or predictable. Let go, travel free, and never look back.  Shanti!








Thursday, May 2, 2013

How to Embrace the Sh*t Sandwiches of Life

 Disclaimer: What I write is from my perspective only and my "advice" is only what has worked for me. I also like to mention in "complainy" posts like this one, I am fully aware these are 1st World Problems. Blessed I Am.

It's been awhile since I have been moved to write.  My last post, almost 6 months ago, was about embracing change Because Nothing Lasts Forever. Little did I realize that I was about to experience so many changes at once that I would lose my footing in every area of my life and become dependent on B-12 Vitamins and a regimented dose of Ayurvedic Remedies to assist in taming my extreme Vata Derangement. I am also writing this because I get to say shit sandwich a lot.

So, recently I was sitting in my bed, sick, choosing to feel sorry for myself, when I had this vision of myself eating a shit sandwich.

It was huge, like this one, except even more shitty looking and feeling:



I was being really dramatic that day, convinced life was trying to kill my soul.

Kinda like this:


I took a minute somewhere between choosing to be a victim and blowing my nose because of the "Ugly Cry" aftermath, to realize how many people I knew who were also eating shit sandwiches, even worse than mine. Then I thought about how I had the tools to get through this (thanks to 20 years of yoga practice and 24 years of self-help literature (and therapy), but many people don't have these tools.

In life, some of us have the tools to navigate through life, mostly choosing the most gourmet sandwich ever, but then many people only seem to know how to focus on how life is abusing them and serving them the shit sandwich (each worse than the last):


Here's what I did to drag myself out of my unfortunate situation.

1) I realized that while not everything happening was a conscious decision I had made (in this life anyway), I had no choice, but to choose how I would move forward. I needed to change my attitude. I started thinking about all of the people who were eating their unfortunate sandwiches right along with me. I wasn't alone and I wasn't special (*gasp*).  I imagined us all across the world sitting around together eating like a huge picnic. I realized we all have a choice how long we want to sit in misery or stand up in order to be an example to others who may not know the way out of the shitty picnic.  Choose to Stand Up.

2) I realized I was afraid. I did some inventory of my life and remembered I had always dug deep within to dig myself out and always came out better than before. Like the Lotus seed getting nourishment from the muck of the pond, I was getting my nourishment in the form of the move to grow from the shit sandwich I was digesting. I chose to look at my situation this way. Life was working for me, not against me. If I could remember this each time I began to feel fear, I could then dig myself out each time and each time a little more quickly than the last. Choose Growth.

3) I realized I needed to count my blessings. I could fill pages of this blog just in my blessings alone. Choose Gratitude. 

4) I realized that each day I woke up with my best friend (My Breath), it was a good day. Not only was I breathing, unlike most of the world using only 30% of their lung capacity, I had the gift of Pranayama on my side and could breathe more effectively which allows me more clarity as I navigate life. Choose Clarity.

When I chose to stand up, grow, be grateful, and see clearly, I realized that life wasn't as shitty as I had imagined.

My sandwich began to look more like this:


Currently I am still having ups and down as my life is in transition and my footing is shaky, but  I have these tools and usually only spend 12-24 hours choosing to be in the painful feelings when they creep up, but I always know it is a choice and I get to choose to feel how I feel and how long I choose to stay with each feeling. This has been years of practice, years of self study, and I still have a long way to go. The only reason I know I have a long way to go and more growth to do is because of this wonderful opportunity given to me by this time period of eating shit sandwiches.

Let us all remember that we are on this life picnic together and can help each other. I have found that serving others when I am in pain makes me happy. Like Mother Teresa said,"If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other."   

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Nothing Lasts Forever


 The Purusha, defined here simply as one's true self, regarded as eternal, never changing and unaffected by external events. I like to say it's what you search for when you need to dig deep, when you would rather turn out the lights and move into a turtle shell or worse, give up all together. This Purusha is the cosmic force that binds us all, found within all of us, that connection that is never cut from the heart center, the only thing that never changes.

After years of work, I can honestly say that Mantra and Pranayama are my chosen tools for meeting that Purusha, though sometimes, like recently, it takes those things along with a beer and daily expression of Gratitude. I've come a long way since the days of anti-anxiety medication, when I still believed my fate was to be abandoned and victimized, so that's what I saw around me. Don Miguel Ruiz, author of The Four Agreements, wrote that taking things personally was the ultimate form of selfishness. I used to take everything personally, so unaware of my selfishness, thinking that since I was doing so much good in the world, anything bad that happened was unjust. Now I have a different view. I realize I wanted to control what was happening around me so that I would feel safe. I wanted to be good to people so people could see I was good and be good to me too. I wanted proof that I was good enough by people staying put in my life. I wanted constant external validation instead of digging deep within knowing that I was doing the best I could and those who saw it were still there and never left. While I've come a long way, I know I continue to be a work in progress, sometimes taking three steps forward, then two steps back. What I know now, is that I don't have to stay back very long and can choose to move forward whenever I feel like it.
 Today, I realize how precious each stage of  life is, recognizing that each person or situation in my life may or may not be there forever, but I can always hold in my heart what we have shared together and what we have taught each other. Perhaps  situations/relationships fall way, but come back later when both sides are whole, truly appreciating the other for all they are, with a clearer view of events. There is so much freedom in holding on to what resonates positively in the light of the heart and letting go that which dims it. So while relationships, situations, and life stages come and go, we can choose to smile fondly as  we do inventory of what was/is positive about the relationship/life stage, rather than hold onto the pain of what went seemingly wrong, happy that our Purusha has guided us through lessons for growth, holding our hand along the way, and comforting us when we needed the strength to carry on.


 
 Below is a video by Ben Taylor (child of Carly Simon and James Taylor who once came together, but didn't last). Driving to drop off my kids at school this morning my son said,"Mom, this song is so sad and depressing." I said," No. No it isn't if you understand that the only constant is change and in those times of change we can grow." He wasn't buying it, but it's all I'm listening to as I dig deep for that inner Purusha, knowing that it's there and it has never failed me and it never will. So, this song makes me smile. It's sweet and true, soft around the edges, and fluffy like a favorite blanket. That's how it makes me feel because it's what I choose to see. 








 Lyrics:
Just another day, just another day I'm here where I belong. Any other place any other way I'd sing a different song. You wouldn't sing along, would you would you? Worlds are made of paper and time is only time nothing lasts forever 'cause people change their minds. I do, I do. I could find a way and I could learn the lines, it isn't hard to do. ooh But I'm so happy here, I think I'd rather stay with you with you. Worlds are made of paper and time is only time nothing lasts forever 'cause people change their minds. I do, I do. So good, so far from the very start. Everywhere I go I see what moves my heart. Worlds are made of paper and time is only time nothing lasts forever 'cause people change their minds. I do, I do. But for the moment I can't find the reason why I need to move along tomorrow doesn't mind that Yesterday is just my favorite Beatles song my favorite Beatles. Worlds are made of paper and time is only time nothing lasts forever 'cause people change their minds. I do, I do. Oh, just another day just another day.

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Journey to the Journey of Self Acceptance

It's no secret that as yoga teachers, we teach what we need. We teach what we have learned. We teach what we have un-learned that no longer resonates.What we teach changes as we change and grow, as we get closer to our true nature.

It's also no secret that as students we gravitate toward the teachers who speak to our heart-mind, seeing in them a reflection of what we already know to be true for ourselves. Eventually we come to realize that our greatest teachers aren't some Guru in an Ashram where we bow at their feet, but regular people just like us. Sometimes, these teachers aren't even on a yoga mat, but a stranger off the street.


When I was 5 or 6, I sat in church and was told God would love me if I was perfect. Their God was scary. That wasn't my God, my God was LOVE. My God was kind. My God was accepting of my flaws.  What was taught to me did not stick because it did not resonate in my heart-mind, so I made up my own God to help me through the tough times and I tried to be like that God when I interacted with others. I still thought I was going to a place called Hell though.


In High School I started seeking outside of myself for the answer in the self-help isle when deep pain began to emerge from past trauma. This didn't resonate too long because I was being taught that I was a victim and I was now feeling dis empowered. This path felt too self-involved and final, to be helpful for me or anyone in my life, so I lost interest and just decided being "messed up" was the way it was going to be, so I got into Drama (Speech and Debate Club), so I could pretend to be somebody else. I was good at it. I won a lot of trophies (better than drugs, I never got into that). I also started using music as a sort of catharsis. To this day I still can not listen to Depeche Mode <shudders>.


In early college I sought help in the Metaphysical section with the Seth Speaks series and thought I could Astral Project myself into peace and harmony with everything outside of myself or at least get off the planet that hurt me so much. I got pretty weird, even for me. I sort of "woke up" when a guy I was dating broke up with me because he didn't like the smell of Patchouli. I thought bathing in Patchouli while listening to New Age music would spiritualize my life. It didn't, I still had the same patterns of behavior I always had, I just smelled more "Earthy".

Then in 1993, at age 20, I found Yoga (asana, ancient text, meditation). Back then there were no studios, it was pretty much just me, my incense, and my tie dye whatevers. This is also when I decided to try being a vegetarian for the first time because that would make me a better person.  My teeth hurt from the beans I could never cook correctly. Still, I felt like I was onto something. I came and went from yoga until 2000 when I became pregnant with my son, after that, it stuck. I also came and went from Vegetarianism until 2009, then I gave up deciding that what I ate had anything to do with who I was as a person.

Because I was practicing yoga before the yoga boom, I thought the new yoga boom was well, a bunch of shit. I remember being in my first Power Vinyasa class and this phrase ran through me mind," What the Fuck is this shit?" How very non-sattvic of me. I blame the Rajasic practice, but whatever. I was being judgmental and well, I sort of freaked out. I started teaching the way the masses wanted me to teach. I felt fake and while I knew it was what my employers and students wanted from me, I still felt like almost all of my classes were only half-truths of who I was and what I wanted to teach. I also started running around teaching 17 classes per week, forgetting to feed my own spirit. Sure, I was taking workshops and learning, but my life was falling apart and I really had no idea what I was doing, but what I did know was, this wasn't me.

In 2007 I went to India for the first time and had a Vision. Open my own place. Teach the way I want. Bring back Old School. So, I did. I thought I was doing this to help others, but as I mentioned before, our teachers come to us in various ways. The studio showed me very quickly that while my intentions were pure (to serve), there would be people who would reject it. I had never struggled so hard to just be who I am, no matter what anyone said. It took years, but I finally realized, that I could be handing out a free trip to Planet Peace and Tranquility wrapped in pink polk-a-dot paper and some people would say my gift was crap and I was full of it. So, seriously, I  just said," I am who I am and I'm ok with that and I'm ok with others not "getting" it." I also realized that while I stuck to my vision, other people were empowered to do the same, all around me. People were flying high and away and I thought,"Being true to yourself and allowing others to do the same, this is what it is all about."

I realized just recently while observing this yoga boom and the quest for all of this beautiful knowledge that ALL of us have within us already, that I'm not sure I teach yoga, as much as I teach authenticity. If we are not authentic, how can we find yoga? For years, I  thought I had it going on and all figured out, but I didn't. Now I realize I still don't, that what I know today may be different tomorrow, but what is truly beautiful is loving exactly who I am TODAY, right now and I find it so much easier to accept and embrace others as they are at any given moment. This is what I want others to experience. It's a dream of mine. It's the kind of Heaven I imagine when I think of God Consciousness.

I want people to also experience this video that a friend of mine gave to me. Take time to listen to it and drink in the lyrics and I'll be playing this on my guitar around a bonfire soon. XO






Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Atha, Are You Ready? Really?


 "Commitment is what transforms a promise into reality. It is the words that speak boldly of your intentions. And the actions which speak louder than the words. It is making the time when there is none. Coming through time after time after time, year after year after year. Commitment is the stuff character is made of; the power to change the face of things. It is the daily triumph of integrity over skepticism." ~Anon

Atha:  pronounced ah-tah in sanskrit is the first word in Patanjali's Yoga Sutra translates to "now".  

Sutra 1.1. Atha Yoga Anusasanam: Here, NOW is the teaching of yoga.

BUT, are you truly ready?  

As Modern Yoga Practitioners, we tend to focus mainly on Asana.  Patanjali himself only mentions the word asana four times and what is the intention of an asana practice? The goal of asana is a steady and comfortable seated posture. 

Sutra 2. 46. Sthira Sukham Asanam: A seated posture that is steady and comfortable is called asana.
Huh? That's it?

Then, Why  focus on the body at all?

The body needs to be made as  comfortable as possible to support pranayama which developed the willpower to overcome physical and mental distraction so we are able to move to higher stages of consciousness in the heart-mind. In modern times we are distracted and pulled in a million different directions and on many different paths. I believe that the many styles of asana there are to practice, reflect just in how many directions we find ourselves every day. The only thing I wish to respectfully point out regarding asana, is that the style of asana one chooses, in order to be termed yoga, should leave the individual more centered, setting the stage for self-realization. Steady. Comfortable. This is how an asana practice should feel in the body and the mind. This, however, is the challenge in our modern culture. I get it.

BUT, yoga, if committed to it,  is found at every moment of every day.

What does this even mean and how do we begin to do be this? It means that we dedicate our intentions and actions in a manner that brings our heart-mind or Chitta into a state of pure awareness, no longer clouded by external influences or negative samaskaras (samskaras are individual impressions, ideas, or actions; make up our conditioning that no longer serve us or the greater good). This takes commitment, patience, and bravery. We are constantly moving between external influences and the internal light of awareness. The goal is to practice, practice, practice, 24 hours per day in all situations. What unfolds if we do the work is the layers and layers of imperfections and untruths are washed away, leaving us with pure awareness of the world around us and BAM, our authentic self is realized. What is yoga, but self-realization. With self-realization we wash that muddy third eye, home of our perception, revealing to us a greater awareness of everything and everyone around us. With this new view, the Universe supports us in developing an environment that serves us and our healing, allowing situations and people from the past that have caused us suffering to go by the wayside, while at the same time we are able to offer forgiveness and gratitude for the lessons those experiences and people have offered us, after all, it is in pain we are moved to grow and it is because of our own pain we harm others, so even better, this is our chance to "let go" with compassion. If we are indeed ready to do the work, we must begin making changes and these aren't always easy (this is the brave part). 

As a yoga teacher, I often mention to students it is their job to do the work. If they succeed it is not because of me and if they fail, it is not because of me. After all, I'm still trying to figure it all out as I go along and just about the time I want to give up, I have to re-commit over and over again. It's a  challenging process, but the results are well worth the effort.

So, are you REALLY ready?

 
Be  (Breathe)
Here (Not up there, down there, back there, or over there)
Now (Not 5 years ago, not yesterday, not tomorrow, not next year, today, right NOW, this very moment)


You can keep going in the many directions everyone else tells you to, or you can STOP and go to InnerState You and Inquire Within.





 


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

I Helped A Little Old Lady Today

I am so honored to have this guest entry by someone I admire for her raw honesty and for this both inspiring and heart breaking story that teaches us it's never too late to help others and to apologize to those we have harmed, even if it means we can only forgive ourselves for those we have harmed.We must dig deep into the heart wounds in order to grow and this expresses this beautifully.

Warning: Have a tissue ready.....
 
 
I helped a little old lady at the grocery store today.  I pulled up 2 spaces away from her (Front Row Joe!) and as I walked past her car, I saw her getting her cane ready.  But, there was something in her hesitant manner.  So I asked if I could offer her a hand.  She accepted and told me that she’d hurt her knee again this morning.  Her hesitation was bracing for the pain that was about to come exploding out of her knee when she stepped up on the sidewalk. 
I hooked my arm under and around hers; giving her another moment to psyche herself up, then we both stepped up on the curb.  The weight I bore was next to nothing.  She was a tiny little white haired thing.  I touched her hand and left her to walk into the store alone.
 
 
 
I was immediately reminded of the day I beat my dog.  Yes, the day I beat my (elderly) dog for shitting all over the floor and not getting her ass over the papers.  There were eight square feet of papers available for her to shit on, and she still managed to get her diarrhea all over the floor.  I was livid.  And I beat her.  Five times, hard, on her ass.  I didn’t care that she was arthritic.  I didn’t know that she was cancer-ridden at the time and just didn’t make it.  In fact, she was probably humiliated by the fact she couldn’t control her bowels…and I beat her for it.
I wanted to cry.  For the dog, long dead from cancer, for the rage-filled woman that I once was.  For my own mother, who will never be assisted by a stranger because her body is so large, no one would want to bear that weight to help her up onto a sidewalk.
Why was I so angry?  I have no answer.  I can justify, sure.  We all have “things” in our past that totally mind-fuck us.  But…why was I so angry?  How did I allow myself to become that awful, mean, vicious person?  I still want to cry.  Oh hell, I am crying.  I’m unsuccessfully trying to choke back the tears because I work in a cubicle in an office.  My nose is dripping.  I wonder who will be the one to beat me.  When I’m old and alone and cancer-ridden and unable to make it to the bathroom in time.
 
 
 
 
 
I do the yoga.  I’ve done the therapy.  I read the books.  I do the meditation.  I’m still working on it. I’m really sorry, Erin.
 
By~Julie Tijerina
 
 

Monday, April 2, 2012

Is Old School Yoga Becoming Extinct?


 Is Old School Yoga on it's way to extinction or can the more modern methods and Old School methods coexist?  It reminds me of the 80's when snowboarding started to become popular.  Skiers and Snowboarders butted heads for many years and still occasionally do, but both are surviving on the Mountain together. (I'm Old School here too...Snowboarders test my yoga patience).

I attended The International Yoga Festival in Early March, where in 2007 I came to meet one of my primary teachers Vamadeva/Dr. Frawley. This year he and Yogaini Shambhavi did not speak there and for students like myself, I felt this year, there was little there for me. As I gathered from the locals and attendees through the years, the word was that things had become too "Hollywood"....and too physically focused. Personally, I attended Kundalini Yoga, one Iyengar cass, and the rest was lecture. The lectures were not well attended, while the asana classes were so packed, many people were turned away. I then realized how blessed I am that my studio does as well as it does because of what and how we teach and where we teach it.

Old School studios and teachers frequently mention their frustration concerning the Boom of yoga as a popular exercises (substituting asana class as Yoga), one that may harm the practitioner or creates the impression on beginner "yogis" that, often times, is one that gets them accustomed to focusing more on the external rather than the internal. Truth be told, it's more difficult to work the mind, which requires healing the aches and pains of the heart that many people do not feel safe tapping into (because our culture is so external), but one thing I know is...this is where Yoga (by definition, not by asana brand) is found and where personal growth and compassion is cultivated. I'm not writing about yoga asana injuries here, as that has been beaten to death already, I am simply bringing this up because so many beginners hurt themselves and never give yoga a second chance (the tragedy). This is why us Old Schoolers get our yoga mats all bunched up in a wad. Asana alone is not yoga, but yoga can be taught through asana.


Through the years my attitude has gone back and forth on the subject of the Old School or Modern approach, usually concluding that we are all on our own path and who are we to judge what path is greater than the other? I support people practicing whatever physical practice they wish to practice and the only thing I might change is what we call our classes (and maybe hunker down more on the quality of education yoga teacher are receiving...which is another topic altogether). Asana Class is more appropriate or even Inspired Asana Class in many cases. I even feel like this regarding my studio if the class is more than 50% asana (which are most of them). I have been to power vinyasa yoga classes, Iyengar classes, or any hybrid class you can imagine (except Bikram since I know I can not handle the heat) and if the class is void of pranayama, then to me, it's not yoga (my opinion). Otherwise, if the teacher teaches us to breathe and offers modifications that help calm and center our bodies and minds...then this is Yoga (no matter what the style). Yoga is everywhere if we are taught what yoga actually is, unfortunately, those lessons are fewer and fewer because it is the rare student who will sit and listen to a 15 minute lecture on yoga philosophy before asana class begins.


So, what IS disturbing to me and why I am writing this, are the amount of articles and Blogs I read regarding studios just like mine shutting down and teachers just like me giving up teaching altogether because they do not feel they have an audience and therefore, can not pay the bills. At my studio we call the majority of our classes Hatha Yoga Classes because this is the branch of yoga that takes the physical route as a stepping stone to self-realization which is where most modern people choose to start.  All asana-based classes are formed from the umbrella of Hatha Yoga, one of the Six Branches of yoga. Unfortunately, many people assume calling a class Hatha Yoga means "Yoga for the old and injured". This is not true and mildly irritating if I allow it to be. When I was a teacher at a popular fitness facility, teaching a watered-down version of what I believed in, my classes were packed. Today, taking the step to be more authentic in my teachings (as I desire to teach), I find my classes, while well attended, are  a 1/3 the size they were at the other place (which I actually prefer because I feel it is more safe and easier to make a connection with my students). It is also true, that since our classes attract those using Hatha Yoga as their spiritual practice, we become like church, people attending once a week only. This makes it more difficult for us to fill classes and keep a schedule that compares to other studios in the area who offer more fitness-style classes where their people attend 3-5 times per week. This also requires us to locate in an area that is undesirable so we can afford rent. So what happens? Only the most dedicated to the deeper components of yoga will make that drive and those who would actually enjoy the practice don't bother to make the drive because we are a culture of convenience.

 So, this is an educational blog entry for those who love Old School yoga. If you wish these kinds of studios to stay in business and these kinds of teachers to keep teaching, then you need to support them. I see and hear a lot of talk from individuals regarding being "into" the deeper teachings, though the physical body still seems to rule because why else would the Old School studios and Old School teachers be shutting down and giving up? We say we want a more Sattvic mind, though we take most of our classes that feed the Rajasic mind that already rules us and causes us frustration and suffering.

It has always been my wish that we could all work together, to cultivate Unity in the yoga commUNITY and I am seeing some of this, though we still have a long way to go. There are studios we regularly refer who offer what we do not and they also do the same for us, but this is rare. What I see more often is studios and teachers trying to be all things to all people and this leads to a break down in community and expertise in certain areas.

That said, students of yoga and teachers of yoga, support what you say you want or know that, in the end, if these studios or teachers can not pay rent/their bills, they may end up being a Fossil.