What’s in a name?

What’s in a name?

I’ve always struggled with labels, especially in yoga.  When asked what style I teach, I don’t have a one word answer.  Even the name of this blog went through about 100 iterations in my head before I settled on “Supportive Yoga”. When I signed on to teach “Plus Size Yoga” at Blue Heron over a year ago, I was excited that such a class was being offered and that I was going to get to teach it.  But, I have to admit that I cringed a bit at the name.  I know what the studio was trying to do – find a way to describe the class in non-judgmental terms that would be easily understood. Here are my issues with “Plus Size” as a way to describe yoga, and the class I teach: 1. It’s a largely arbitrary term taken from, of all places, the fashion industry.  I don’t want to impose a term that has been imposed on me by an industry that is extremely unfriendly to the majority of women. 2. It’s exclusive in that most men don’t think of themselves as “plus size” even though they might benefit from the practice offered in the class. 3. The kind of supportive practice I teach can be useful to a much broader array of students than just those who identify with the term “plus size”.  Anyone who is struggling in their body or looking to make yoga work for them would benefit. Why not name the class Supportive Yoga?  Well – short answer is I tried that and they didn’t bite.  Long answer – I can see why they didn’t go...
The Impromptu Private

The Impromptu Private

Hello from Chicago!  The boyfriend and I have been running around like crazy, so I haven’t had too much chance to blog.  You’ll be happy to know that I plucked up the courage to go to a yoga class at the studio across from the hotel the other day and had a good experience (nothing mind blowing, but nothing negative either).  I decided that since it was right here and I’m more likely to attend classes, I’d already paid for, I would go for the 3 class new student deal for $25 (drop-ins were $18 so even if I only went once more it’d be a good deal.) Note to all traveling yogis – most studios have a bargain like this, so make sure to ask! Today, I decided to take my 2nd class and headed over this morning.  I got to the studio about 10 minutes early so I could talk to the teacher about my various injuries/issues and the huge yoga room was empty.  I set myself up with my multitude of props, did a little supta padangustasana to release my back and hips and waited for the other students to arrive. 10:00am came and went and no one else came into the room.  Hmmm… At 10:02, the teacher came in and closed the door.  I was the only person there.  Helllooooo impromptu private yoga class! First thought: PANIC! Second thought: SCORE! I’ve taught a few of these, so I know how intimidating it can be to have the teacher’s entire focus and attention.  It’s a wonderful opportunity though, especially since private yoga classes can range anywhere...
Supportive Yoga on Vacation

Supportive Yoga on Vacation

I’m in Chicago this week for vacation so the blog posts will be a little different than usual.  If you are attached to the normal format, no worries – I’ll be back next week with props and sequences! My boyfriend was kind enough to book us a hotel room right across the street from one of Chicago’s yoga studios (ok, it was a total coincidence, but I’ll let him take credit for it anyhow…) So I decided to lug my manduka (pro lite or not, that thing is HEAVY – but I love it) half-way across the country and take some yoga classes while I’m here. I hate to admit it, but I’m kinda terrified of taking yoga classes with teachers I don’t know – even more so at studios I don’t know.  You’d think (hope) after 10+ years of practicing that I’d be over it.  But between my long list of injuries (mostly non-yoga related but that do affect my practice) and my various hangups, it’s nerve wracking even for (especially for?) me.  Warning: the following paragraphs contain a lot of ego. Let’s start with the most obvious issue…my larger than usual yoga body.  More and more teachers are starting to understand that fitness and yoga ability comes in all shapes and sizes, but there is still a long way to go.  I’m comfortable saying that most of time, teachers assume that I’m a beginner.  If they ask at all, I usually get…”is this your first time at yoga?” not “Do you practice? or “How long have you been practicing?”  Some even act “concerned” and wonder if I...
Happy Anniversary

Happy Anniversary

One year ago, tomorrow, I finished my Yoga Teacher Training 200 hour program with Prajna Yoga.  I’d been teaching group classes in Maryland for about a month and private classes for a while before then plus my apprenticeship at Mala Yoga 4 years earlier, but this was my rubber stamp.  I was official.  To say I was thrilled would be an understatement.  The path to RYT-200 was not easy for me (is it easy for anyone?) and there were a lot of tears along the way.  I was terrified to even embark on the 200 hour journey, worried that my “atypical” yoga body and out of control expectations were a recipe for failure.  Instead, my “atypical” yoga body has become more of an asset than I ever dreamed possible and my expectations were met and more. My dad teased me that I was more excited to have my certification than I was for my bachelor’s or master’s degrees and in some ways he’s right.  Though yoga teacher training took less time and a lot less money, the outcome seemed much more uncertain to me.  Perhaps it’s because my family values academics so highly, but it never occurred to me that I wouldn’t go to college and eventually graduate school and that I wouldn’t be more or less successful in the end (naive certainly, and probably a bit entitled  – I admit that).  Teacher training was a very different story.  I’ve always thought that my family and friends were a little perplexed (supportive, but perplexed) at the idea that I would become a yoga teacher – it certainly wasn’t expected.  Success...
What draws you?

What draws you?

I had an interesting experience the other day in the Zumba class I take at the gym sometimes.  A number of circumstances resulted in the class being taught at varying points by 3 different teachers.  It was an unprecedented (for me) opportunity to take a look at 3 different teaching styles and evaluate why one worked better for me than the others. I love Zumba and definitely prefer some teachers over others, but I’m not picky to the point of ridiculousness the way I am with yoga teachers.  I assume that my pickiness for yoga teachers is partly to blame on my being a yoga teacher, but to be fair, I was pretty darn picky before I started teaching too.  I’ve also been practicing yoga for a lot longer than I’ve been doing Zumba. The Zumba class made me start thinking about what draws me to a particular yoga teacher (or more frequently makes me shy away). I hesitate when people ask me to give me their opinions of yoga teachers or studios (though I usually don’t hold out for long) because I’m so freaking particular.  I don’t want to color someone else’s experience or impose my craziness onto them.  In general terms though, I think warmth, expertise (this is probably the most important to me right now), creativity and an open mind are what I look for in a yoga teacher. I want to open it up to you – I know there are a few of you out there, so don’t be shy!  What draws you to a yoga teacher or studio?  What makes you want to...
Home

Home

Warning: this one’s personal. Anyone who’s been practicing yoga for any amount of time in studios likely has a yoga home.  Perhaps it’s the first studio you ever tried or possibly the studio you found after years of searching.  Wherever your yoga home is, chances are, you are quite attached to it.  You will probably shake your head when you hear about other yoga students’ homes (I almost had a heart attack when I read one blogger’s gushing description of her yoga teacher squirting water on her in savasana – pun totally intended!  If anyone tried that with me, I’d be out the door so fast you wouldn’t believe it!) If you are like me and have had to leave your yoga home (moved 250 miles away), you’ll mourn deeply. You’ll spend years looking for a new home (maybe unsuccessfully), while clinging to the vestiges of the connection you have with your old yoga home.  Five years later, it’s becoming clear that the connection is fading simply due to the fact that I’m not around there much anymore. Anyone who has been studying yoga philosophy or Buddhist philosophy knows that “non-attachment” is considered something to strive for.  I spend a lot of time assuring myself that yoga is yoga and that I can practice it anywhere.  I love teaching at the studio I’m at now, but I don’t take class much there despite some fabulous colleagues who are happy to have me plunk down my mat in their classes.  In the past 5 years, I’ve tried many studios around the DC area but I haven’t found one yet that makes me...