Yoga

I’m fat and I teach Yoga.

I’ve been thinking about this topic for a while and it isn’t one that I talk about. Weight is that one touchy subject for most people, especially if they weigh more than they’re supposed to, and even more so when you’re into yoga. Say what?! Yoga? That practice that makes sure people understand that they are acceptable and perfect just the way that you are?! How could you possibly have any kind of problem if you do yoga? Isn’t that the point? To take your problems away? Ideally, but it isn’t always the case.

The first time I did yoga it was with my best friend and a YouTube Video. When I started practicing it was to gain relief from the vigorous weigh lifting that I was participating in at the time. I was always stiff and wanted to get relief and stretch the muscles that I worked so hard building. I started my journey doing Yin style yoga. I needed the calm, long stretches, in order to make the gains I wanted in my weight lifting routines. The yin of my practice helped me find balance with the powerful vigorous yang style I was lifting. If nothing else, I am strong. I am also obese, or if it makes you more comfortable, fat.

Now that we have that out of the way, you will understand why it was intimidating the first time I walked into a live action yoga class. Can you imagine the looks on the faces of the very limber and thin yogi’s I practiced with the first time? I have always been a back row person, and I will always be one, but at that point it was for me to hide. I wasn’t really good at anything, since I was just starting my practice, but I was also determined. Yes, being the fat girl in the back of a yoga class was intimidating, and every time I go into a new studio I have the same thought “Please don’t let anyone notice.” News flash: They always notice! But it is empowering now, because people expect you to be one thing, and then you show them you’re another and they can no longer assume.

Why do you let the opinions of others bother you, you ask? Because it takes a LOT to get to the point where you ignore that kind of thing. Most days it is fine, other days it isn’t fine. Most days I am full of confidence and know I have the knowledge to succeed in my practice and the practice of others that I happen to teach. But teaching, being the fat yoga teacher, that is a different bag of tricks!

Talk about intimidating to step into the place of the teacher, and be the biggest person in the room. People think you don’t know anything, or that you can’t do anything, or that you can’t possibly be a yogi because you’re fat. That is because we spend so much time thinking that our weight defines us and determines who we are. We are conditioned as a society to shame and think terribly of people who are fat, no matter where we encounter them. I want to be the person that helps adjust the way people think and what people think yoga is supposed to be/look like.  I assume that when someone who has never taken a class with me before walks into the room and meets me as the teacher, the prejudice comes out. Why? Well, because that is what we’ve been taught to do. All yoga instructors can tie themselves into a knot and stand on their head, without the help of their hands, and must weigh less than 150 pounds, right? I mean, if you believe the internet then yes! But if you have the ability to think and experience things for yourself, then No.

If nothing else, as a yoga instructor I want to be able to influence others in the way they think and perceive what the shell of a yogi should be. Because that is simply what the fat I cary on my body is–a shell. It doesn’t tell you anything about me as a person. It doesn’t determine my value or skill level. It doesn’t effect you in any way, shape or form. I want people– fat or thin–to understand that you should accept people for who they are, instead of what you think they are. Give them a chance to explore what it is they have to offer the world, and let them do that without judging them. If you walk into a yoga class and the teacher is as big as two normal sized yogi’s, don’t underestimate them. I’ve seen some fat girls do some pretty impressive things!

Every single day I am thankful that I found a studio where I don’t feel judged or unappreciated because of my size. In my studio I’m not afraid of being the fat girl in the class. And if at all possible I hope to inspire other people who think they may not be able to do something to at least try. Cause you know if the fat girl can do it, you probably can too.

In closing, to all the fat girls in the back row of the yoga class, or the one at the head of the class teaching–you’re not alone. You are a spectacular being who deserves a place to celebrate the abilities that you have while not being judged for the things you can’t do yet (key word is YET). So, own your space on the mat and off. Own your body and your choices, and even though it seems impossible sometimes, ignore the negativity that others have for you. Yes, easier said than done as always. What if they stare? Stare back. What if they snicker and laugh at you? Honestly, if they want to make fun of you they will, but the beautiful thing is that the reason they make fun is because they don’t have the courage to do what you’re doing. They don’t understand the struggle of being the fat yogi or the fat instructor. And if they have time to sit and make fun of you, really they’re probably projecting their own view of themselves. We make fun of the things we don’t understand or that make us uncomfortable, and I can tell you right now that people get REAL uncomfortable when the fat girl isn’t afraid of being confident in herself.

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Yoga

A Year Later…

So, how has it been a year since I graduated from my Yoga teacher training? It’s amazing how this year has changed me. I’ve gone through a lot, and I have to say that even though I have struggled with everything, including yoga, it is still something that I have been able to keep consistent. I try to ask myself what I’ve learned over the last year, and I’ve really had to dig down and figure out what that has been. Sometimes what we’ve learned gets clouded by what happened or other things in life.

First and foremost I have learned that people not coming to your yoga class is not a reflection on you, but on them and their inconsistencies. Since I live and work by the beach, especially this time of the year, I have to compete with the ocean on nice days. Since I teach on Saturday mornings, especially!

Second, I’ve learned that teaching can be defeating feeling. I’ve taught so many classes since I graduated from kids to caretakers, from a group of friends to a group of regular students. Somedays everything is lively and amazing, other days it actually feels like work. You can only hope that when shit is feeling like work that there is some kind of saving grace in your class that helps your students through, so they don’t feel like it’s work.

Third, you meet really interesting people along the way. They might be students or other teachers, but you do get to know some interesting folks.

Fourth, planning a workshop is not the easiest thing in the world. So many questions! I’m working on one currently, and I don’t know how or when it will all fall into place, but it will and I’m certain it will be amazing. Sometime this Fall!

Fifth, it is perfectly acceptable to take a risk. Whether it is with sequencing or theme or whatever, it is awesome to try those things, even if they’re kind of rocky in the beginning, the more you try, the easier it will become. I had this issue teaching a yoga class on the beach. It isn’t as easy as you’d think! It was truly a challenge for me but I’m glad I had the opportunity. And, if all goes well, if I do it again, I dare say it will be as much of a struggle.

Teaching is something that I enjoy doing. I make a living in a classroom, so taking my knowledge to the yoga studio seemed like it would be pretty similar. It is. But instead of talking about art everyday, I get to help people through an activity. I try my best to incorporate visuals, based around the myths of why we do what we do, so they can reflect back and think about their actions.

I am excited to see what the next year has to offer me. I look forward to seeing how much things change, and while they are, doing my best to live in the present moment and focus here and now. What can I accomplish today? Well, I strive to be 1% better than I was yesterday, since that is all I can do.

Happy Anniversary to all my Kula girls. And Happy Anniversary to me ❤

Life, Yoga

Father’s Day & Things

We made it through Mother’s Day, and even though I didn’t see my mom I made sure she knew she was loved. Tomorrow is my parents anniversary, followed by Father’s Day Sunday. At this moment I’m not sure how I feel. I am so sad for my mom, and I know the only thing I can do is let her know she isn’t alone. She’s taking a trip up to the town where they got married and where they spent the majority of their anniversaries. I know it will be painful for her, but I think it may also bring her some peace.

I have spent the majority of June celebrating my father. I took a trip around the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State. Along this trip I hiked in rain forests, cliff faces down to the ocean, over fallen drift wood, and scaled the sides of mountains. I took with me a vile of my dad’s ashes so that I could have a little piece of him with me and so I could take him to see some cool ass places. This way, he got to see the world with me, ya know? I scattered the first ashes at Ruby Beach. I built little stone markers for each spot, but Ruby Beach there was a distant view of a light house, and the spot where I left him was one where fresh water met the salt. This is the first time I have seen the Pacific Ocean.

I also spread some of his ashes at Rialto Beach. When I was doing that I tried to write his name in the sand but in doing so I stopped watching the ocean, and it came up and got me. My shoes were soaked, which wasn’t super good news, but I had to laugh because I figured it was dad showing me he was there. This is also a beach that looked like where they filmed the Goonies, but that one is farther south (I think that’s what she told me).

Turns out that I still had a fair amount of ashes, so we had to find one more places to leave him. We were already done hiking the Olympic National Forest trails that we had planned on hiking. We ended up back in Seattle and I still had these ashes. So, Rose took us to a beach that was still part of the city. According to the stamp on my photographs it was called Golden Gardens Park. The fun thing about this spot was not only did he end up with a view of the water, he gets to watch boats go by because there is a marina near by. He also gets to watch the trains, because the tracks run along the back of the park. All of those things are, were, things he loved. The crazy way he showed me he was there was after I covered the ashes with sand, I turned to walk back to where my friends were, and lightning struck and thunder bellowed all around. The rain started just moments later. Apparently, it never really thunders in Seattle, or lightnings either. So, the old man made a loud sign to show me he was there. ❤

Dad didn’t have a connection to the Pacific Northwest, and honestly pretty sure he never had been there before ever. But when mom asked me if I wanted to take some ashes, I jumped at the opportunity. Not only did I want him to come, but I want him to go everywhere I go, from now on. One of the parts that hurt the most was not being able to come home and see his face and get a big hug and tell him all about my trip. It was the only way I actually had this experience. Even though there was no bear hug, and no breakfast talk about life (I had one with my mom instead and it was good too). So Sunday, to keep celebrating him I think I will go and roam around in nature, sit by the ocean, and absorb all the grace I can from the world and myself.

This is one of those moments when I think, had I know last Father’s Day would be the last I would have done something better. Shown more love. Been a better daughter. I don’t know what I would have done but it would have been something. My life is different now. I exist in a world where half of my genetics no longer does. I go one each day, and yet he’s not here. Some days are perfectly fine, but this whole month has been hell on my emotions. I know they say it comes in waves, and yes it does seem to do that, but this is one of those big long waves that surfers get a lot of good moves out of before it falls flat. It’s been going to a real long time, and I still have a couple days.

Love your people a little more today than usual, and each day from now add a little more. It makes it worth it.

 

Yoga

Full, Blue Moon Yoga

Let me just say that today has been an awesome day.

The cat might have yelled at me to get up at the normal 6:15 to feed her, but it’s still been awesome.

I put together an awesome full moon yoga class on this lovely full and blue moon day. So much power to be absorbed today. I really had so much fun with the ladies from my class today. We made our way through a couple different moon cycles and had some balancing fun in half moon. It was also the best I’ve probably ever done half moon in my life!

One of the parts of my theme today was to pay attention to the impulsive behavior that comes along with a full moon, as well as the emotions and potential heightened senses. Something along the lines if you’re an impulsive shopper, probably don’t go shopping today. Or if you have a tendency to be emotional to be a little easier on yourself and just pay attention to the feelings that arrive in your mind. It happens to all of us. But not everyone pays attention.

From there I asked them to let go of the things that are no longer serving a purpose in their life. I think this part is a reason I’m having a good day! I’m starting to let go of things that have plagued me for a while. And by a while I mean some of them the majority of my life. Also, most of them are self inflicted. Tells you something. But in the moment, letting go is such a welcomed thing. You genuinely become lighter and smile brighter and all kinds of other thing!

In addition, yesterday was kind of monumental and plays into this. Letting go of anger and bitterness I have toward people I’m related to was a fucking powerful thing. And today, working with my students, helping them get rid of whatever they needed was so energizing! I can’t explain it, but the reward of teaching yoga is powerful. And because moon cycles aren’t super common I went through them with demonstrations. The full effect of the class was not achieved for me because I’m still the teacher, but the little bit of it that I did get was spectacular!

Now, I’m off to make a red velvet cake from scratch, for the first time, to take to the Stauble’s Easter celebration. Pray I don’t fuck it up! I cook, I don’t do so well baking, but I have faith that today, being as awesome as it is, will keep on being awesome and bring me success with this baking.

Have a happy Easter everyone. Love your people. Love yourself.

Yoga

Holiday Reconnect

Happy Tuesday, everyone! It has been a hot minute since I’ve had an opportunity to blog. Since I moved I’ve been running around, unpacking, traveling, etc. and quite frankly I’m so happy to be able to be home for a few weeks before the travels start again. I need this time to ground myself. Focus. Hang out and just breathe!

I have had a blast running around though. I went to New Jersey to see my friend, Olga, and her family. Her oldest daughter got married and the wedding was beautiful! Spending time with Olga was much needed. I hadn’t seen her in 8 years, since I moved out of NYC. It was just like old times though. The only the that had really changed was she moved, and she got a cat. Everything else, the same.

Upon returning from Jersey I had to work one day and then I was off to visit my family in the North Carolina mountains. I drove way too much, but I was happy to get the time to see everyone. I like hearing what they’ve been up to. It was also my cousin Jon’s 26th birthday on Thanksgiving. I can’t believe he’s 26. Scares me that the youngest (he’s 3rd from the bottom age wise with the cousins) group of kids in our family will all be in their 30s very soon.

I spent Thanksgiving evening with my parents at their house. Mom had to work, so she was unable to go to the festivities at grandmas, but it was nice to see her and spend time with both of them. I broke the news that I had been seeing someone, Zack (just in case you didn’t know either). They were quite happy and look forward to meeting him. It won’t be over Christmas, because he has to work, but none the less, one day!

So here it is the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. December will be here Friday. My lovely yogi sister, Starr, has a birthday on Friday too! And it wraps up the end of the semester for me. I’m excited to have time off from teaching. I get to focus my time on doing some academic writing for myself and studying for the GRE. Hurray! Christmas break is so fun! I have planned on doing a yoga tour of Wilmington. Spending time learning and practicing from those around me. I am excited to experience some new things and really push myself to get outside my comfort zone. I’m stuck there, and I have to stop it. So, naturally, I am going to go to my mat and try all the things. There are so many wonderful teachers in this town (it’s legit over flowing with amazing teachers) and it is silly of me not to take advantage. I think I might start on Friday morning, since it is the first day I have ‘off’ from work. And I know just who’s class to take. Alexis, I’m coming for you!

In addition to my yoga tour, I’m excited to study. To spend time expanding my knowledge and working toward a larger goal. I have been anticipating this time off so I could focus and just work on stuff I want to do, instead of stuff I have to do for work. Not that I don’t like that stuff, but sometimes I find it really hard to actually split the two and I know that I need to learn to do that again. I plan to pursue some big things, and push myself again. I’ve done a lot of pushing this year, and I want to wrap up the year itself with one last one. It will lead me into 2018 and help me stay focused next year. Because, I’m not doing all this stuff to not keep at it. Dreams are worth chasing. And I’m trying to focus on some short term goals for now, that will possibly lead me to that bigger dream. Dr. Deirdre. It has a fantastic ring to it, no?

In closing, here’s to the last week of classes! I look forward to the month off. I look forward to the holidays with friends and family. I look forward to pushing myself outside of this comfort zone so I can grow and prosper in a different way.

2017 has been an awesome year. 2018, I hope you’ll be the same.

Namaste!

Yoga

Daily Mantra!

Why not start the day with something positive? Why not start the day with handling the things that need to be handled with a positive attitude? Besides, the universe is yours! Make it happen if you want it! Today I’m going to yoga and the gym. Lifting and a slow relaxing flow are just the polar opposites that I need! ❤

 

rumi-quotes-8

Yoga

Audition: Take 1

When I was in library school I took a practicum to be a First Year Instruction librarian. I was not so great at that whole part of my life, however I did a blog about it and one of the things I remember from that was how important reflection after a class really is. Today I had an audition for a position at a local yoga studio. I have practiced there from time to time and I really enjoy how close it is to the ocean. The owner/lead instructor was ever so gracious to give me a chance to succeed with her studio. Today was my official audition. Reggae Flow.

First off, there is a lot of Reggae music out there and narrowing down my choices was really difficult. I thought the playlist ended up pretty well. Subjects from the sunshine to unconditional love, lionesses on the rise to warriors. My critique with the music was it may not have been loud enough, but I’m always afraid people won’t be able to hear me. So that is something I need to play around with! Not a big deal.

Second, I used the routine that I put together for my graduation. It’s a pretty legit routine, or at least I think it is. I like to do as Iyengar suggests and hold each pose for 20-30 seconds. For me that is about 5 breaths. Gives you time to settle into a pose and actually attack it and attempt to better your asana. Everyone got sweaty. People laughed at my jokes and random banter. That is encouraging. I try to make things a little light hearted and laid back. The asana is serious enough, the mental state in the room doesn’t need to be.

Third, I was nervous. I expected to be nervous, as I always am when I go to a room full of people that I don’t actually know. Working with my kula during our training was scary at first too, because we were just getting comfortable with each other, however each time I walk into a class for the first time I get nervous. Doesn’t matter what I’m teaching. Art history or yoga. Day 1 anxiety is something I am accustomed to.

Fourth, I got some great feedback from students at the end. Just saying that they enjoyed the practice, or they like the way I said something they had never heard before, etc. I like that. I wanted to be able to speak to them all, but Saturday morning bustle is real when the sun comes out for the first time in a freaking week! The beach was calling to many. 🙂

Fifth, my routine was not normal this morning and it threw me off and made me a little more nervous than I should have been. I’m totally okay with it being thrown off because my best friend has returned to America from Nepal and I am so happy she is staying with me. She brought me back some priceless gifts and I love them all. She used to teach at the studio that I auditioned for today. I’m basically just trying to follow in the footsteps she has laid out. It seems to be working! Fingers crossed it continues to do that! ❤

I hope everyone enjoys the weekend!

~Namaste~<3