I taught my last scheduled class today at the beautiful yoga shala this morning.
I’ve been up since 3am. I convinced myself that I woke up, and stayed up thinking about things work-related. I even made a few lists to prove it. But it had nothing to do with what I had ‘to do’ but rather, a full-body confession that I don’t know how to end things.
I taught my first yoga class back in 2008 at Breathe Yoga in Rochester NY. I was a brand new yoga student (7 months in), and I didn’t have time to overthink all the reasons why standing in front of a group of people talking about down-dogs, might be a bad idea. All my major decisions leading up to that point, grad school, jobs, where to live, etc. all came with multiple spread-sheets, cost/benefit analysis, and consulting all the experts…and then came yoga. And I just said yes.
It’s been a journey all-right. To stand in front of a group again and again and again to share what you are passionate about takes chops. It takes an unrelenting passion, and a huge sense of humility. I’ve been all things through the hundereds of classes I’ve taught across 8 different studios, in 2 states, and 2 countries. I’ve been humble, and I’ve been righteous. Ive been grateful, and I’ve been entitled. I’ve been honest, and I’ve been a liar, saying words and not believing any of them…to be like her instead, him instead, anyone but me. Because after all, what have I got to offer…
One of my major seismic shifts in life, was quitting my corporate sales job to come to lululemon and move from my hometown. That was back in 2011. The transition was rocky…not at all like I pictured it. I never anticipated what it would be like to be fully accountable to my life as my ‘job’ which is what lululemon asks of me. And so I wasn’t. I fought, and I blamed, and I didn’t want to be responsible for the mess I felt my life was, ‘life had dealt me a shitty hand’ and I just didn’t understand how I was responsible for that. Also, I had chosen a substantial pay-cut, and so certainly, someone owed me something….right?
Um yeah, we all know how that ends up.
I have tough news for you. You are owed nothing. And no matter what type of crap-show you grew up in, it doesn’t define you nor does it excuse you. This took me some time to really get. Like not just say. But GET. For me it took me a 10,000 mile trip to live and work in Kenya to realize you can drastically change your scenery, but it doesn’t change a damn thing in regards to what’s inside.
I’ve heard many times, that I am a free-bird, a flight-risk, that I leave others feeling that I could go at any moment. The funny thing is, I lived my whole life in Rochester NY. Until I was 29, my apartments changed, but my zip codes didn’t. And then…
Your way begins at the other side.
Walk out like someone suddenly born into color.
Do it now.
NY to Kenya to NY to Cali, is what many of you know of me now. And you’re right. And those of you who only knew me, as ‘from rochester’ you’re right too. What moves me now, is not escape, but discovery (and okay, a little escape) but mostly because I am hungry to feel a world that is full of culture and language and tradition.
Growing up a daughter of an immigrant who spoke in single word sentences of her past with her head down…every word more vauge than the one before….you cannot help but to seek. And so I am. I want answers by living them, not reading about them. I want culture by experiencing it, tradition by doing it, language by trying it.
The one constant in my life since 2008, as most everything else has changed. Is I have never ever stopped teaching yoga. I spent 3 and a half years with my breathe family, and from there I’ve been handed keys to many other studios, all of which I have loved, all of which I have camp-fire stories of growth and failure. But what I would tell you most of all, what I would tell you always is how I find my family here.
Survival skill 101, when you do not grow up in a home that functions as a family, you must, must, change that. You cannot stay alone. You must seek and believe that you can create family anywhere…and I must say, I am really freaking good at this. Once I love you. Forget it. I love you for life. I will think about you, and the small thing I can do to make your day, much more than you could ever know. I will hug you, always, if somehow you sneak out of the door without a hug, cause you are a in a hurry, I’ll run after you and wrap my arms around you and tell you to slow down. When I do this…I am doing this just as much for me. Because it feels so damn good to connect, and because I lived so so long in disconnection.
This morning I gathered up so many hugs. Every person I knew by name, because calling one another by name is something I believe matters so much. You know that person who you’ve reached that awkward point where you don’t know there name….so you’re too afraid to ask them. Ask them. And then say ‘thank you so-in-so’ unless it’s been a few years…then well, find a new way : )
I was supported enough to understand last week, when I could not easily answer the question of ‘where am I holding my practice as priority’ — practice both on and off the mat, that it was an opportunity to pause.
You can keep on doing what you’re doing. For most of us. This ‘works.’ But you cannot pour your heart into something so ‘it works’ you gotta be more honest than that.
This past year teaching at the shala has been so wonderful to ground down. After 2 years of extensive travel, it was exactly perfect. I found family. I found grace. I found the ground. I found belly laughs, and big ol cleansing cries. I found the keys in my hands from 2 people who had just met me, but loved me anyway, and trusted me to stand in front of the family they had grown. I found gratitude. I found love.
As good old mick said….you cant always get what you want….but if you try sometimes, you just might find…you get what you need.
I’m feeling that my own practice is drawing back to that of power vinyasa, the heat, the sweat, the movement and flow. It’s where I began, and it’s where I feel I’m going back to. I don’t know what’s next, and for one of the first times ever, I am not even close to panicking. I am going to keep teaching for sure, because that is who I am. I’ll find my way, and I have trust in that.
I am sad of course. And also, when things end, I am often times overwhelmed with did I do enough? Was I enough? Do they know how grateful I am…
And so you can only show people. Really. It’s what matters most. Those questions above are noisy and powerless.
My yoga practices shows me who I am. My teaching shows me where I have healed. My teachers show me that who I am, is who I am.
How beautiful it is to know that we just keep beginning again.
For anyone that’s ever practiced with me, and for the sweet shala peeps who’ve practiced with me this past year. I humbly bow. To Tyler, Annie, and Josh. The whole rest of my life, I will be grateful for you, and what you’ve built.
I walked out today with gifts of donuts, and coffee, and flowers…you guys really get me. I love you even more than this donut from Maries…and man, do I love this donut.