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Thursday, 20 September 2018

Sabbatical

After five years of owning a yoga studio in downtown Fonthill, and over 15 years of teaching pretty much full time, I find myself here on a bit of a sabbatical. It's an odd feeling. Mostly because it wasn't really "planned". I've noticed as I settle into a completely different routine, just how much my body is so programmed to be in a state of rushing. Some days it's more subtle than others. But many days it's this constant feeling of needing to be somewhere, needing to rush through the moment in anticipation of checking off the next thing on my To-Do List. Once we closed the studio the summer was drenched in this energy of needing to hurry and find a new location. I felt I had to rush and get, as quick as possible, to the next moment so everyone could be satisfied and there wasn't too much idle time. I took a part time job at a winery that was more like a cult than a business. I continued to teach a modified schedule until end of August, and worked at the winery every weekend. I thought keeping myself really busy would make me feel productive and would be 'healthy' for me. For the record: cult-like atmospheres mixed with wine where you're just another cog on the wheel, are rarely 'healthy'. Or respectful. I'll spare you the details, but it wasn't for me. That has helped me realize that busy busy schedules, and long days, often don't leave time for the kind of self care that's needed to keep things in balance. So I've decided to stop forcing. I've decided to rest. To allow myself to heal. To open to Divine guidance. To make space for whatever needs to be released so that Life can begin to flow freely again.

There's a certain hustle when you own your own business. Every day. There's always something to do, something to clean, someone's email or text to respond to, classes to plan, schedules to create, supplies to get, new ideas to find, classes to teach, clients to meet with, websites and social media to update. Plus trying to fit in your own practice time. Every single day is a whirlwind, at times, that requires a lot of energy. Especially in this business. But not just energy...it requires positivity. Inspiration. And a certain lightness of being. You really can't take yourself too seriously. But you DO have to be productive. Toward the end of the final year at the studio I started to become aware of just how tired I was. The kind of tired that's in your bones. I was exhausted. As I continued to advocate for my mother on her journey with Alzheimers (not an easy thing!), I was also battling an unprofessional negligent landlord at my business. Her relentless antics kept a current of conflict running continuously in the background. Which kept me in a continuous state of stress. Add in my 7-day-per-week schedule at the studio, plus my teaching schedule, and you have a recipe for major Burn Out. I would often find myself driving to the studio, after visiting my mother, and not being able to stop crying. What I see, and hear, in the nursing home where she lives is sometimes so heart wrenching it takes my breath away. It keeps me up at night. Yet, somehow, I became a master at stuffing down my feelings. The practice always helped. It gave me an outlet for some of those feelings and connected me back to my breath and my essence. I am so grateful for having The Village Yogi during this difficult time.

Because, really, yoga isn't just for the calm cheerful days. It's a wonderful support during the darker, more challenging ones. And that, truly is a blessing. We NEED to have a safe space where we can go when we're not ok. We NEED  to give ourselves, and others, permission to work through difficult times without feeling attacked or judged by our community. I do not teach from a place of trying to appear as anything other than Me. Just me. Unapologetically ...Me. Flaws, quirks, imperfections and all. I teach from the experiences of my not-so-perfect life. In the hopes that you will also be empowered to keep going when your life isn't so perfect either. While I perhaps haven't been the bubbly happy-go-lucky gal I once was, I AM a professional. Am I perfect? Hell No! But I haven't met anyone yet who is.

So when one of my teachers approached me, rather rudely, and said that she felt her class attendance was low because of MY energy, it was my first indication of the kind of subtle judgment and shaming that happens in the yoga world. She told me "Everyone knows you've got a lot going on. I think they can feel the "negativity" and that's why they aren't coming to my class. All my classes, in the other 2 gyms I teach at, are full!! So, it's obviously not me. I really think it's you." I was utterly stunned! This kind of shaming is happening everywhere. But it's perhaps the most shocking to see it so blatantly in the industry of yoga - an industry that's supposed to be built on kindness, community, support and inclusiveness. What this teacher didn't know was that people were continuously being injured in her class. What she didn't seem to notice was that most of the time, more than half the class was in child's pose, for much of the class. What she also didn't know was that I had received multiple comments about her teaching style being "a monologue" and that students generally felt like she didn't connect to them, or really pay much attention to them at all, like she didn't care if they were there or not. Yet, instead of a little svadyaya (self reflection...yoga teachers are supposed to be adept at it) she decided to blame me.



I believe that was a major turning point. In my life, my practice, and the future of my business. Another time, shortly after this, a sweet well-meaning client walked into the studio and told me "Oh just smile." I was doing my best to be pleasant. But what this woman didn't know was that every single day that week I had found my mother covered in bruises, feces or dried vomit. She didn't know that all week I had been trying to get the staff at the nursing home to treat my mother's respiratory infection, to clean her, to take care of her properly. She didn't know that my mother had yet another infected cyst on her body that wasn't receiving the proper care it needed, so I was going in daily to treat the wound. She didn't know how utterly heart broken I truly was in that moment, knowing that as I left the nursing home to return to the studio I was gripped in terror at what really goes on in there when I am not present. Telling me to 'smile' was literally the most absurd thing I'd heard all day. The fact that I attempted to do it was even more absurd. I sat there with a fake smile plastered on my face and felt ridiculous. All I wanted to do was cry. Yet there I sat - grinning like a foolish idiot so this woman would feel better. I taught a stellar class that night. But I went home feeling like a fraud.

And that's one of the worst feelings.

So - after pounding the pavement all summer long, knocking on doors, sending endless emails and going through dozens of possible new locations - all with ridiculously inflated rents- I'm waving the white flag. I surrender. Completely and utterly. I surrender. I am taking time to walk and get back on my bike. I am settling back into my own practice, daily, and reminding myself how to flow and create space for the stress to release. I am having regular reiki healing sessions. I am resting. I am cocooning. I am spending as much time with my mom as I am able.

I miss teaching. I miss my yoga community. I have a few workshops planned for the near future. I am actively continuing to look for space. But the intention behind my actions is different now. My priorities have shifted. My health has become a greater priority. The investment of my precious energy is deliberate now. If it doesn't feel right - it doesn't happen. I'm learning to trust myself again.
Because, let's face it, it's so empowering to say "This isn't serving me." And walk away in peace.

Peace to all of you. I look so forward to when we can practice again together.










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