What? Not a yoga superstar?

A close friend (aka my boyfriend) of mine teaches yoga at several locations in the bay area. He teaches all levels but seems to have his strongest following in the basic classes he teaches at one of the local fitness centers. The classes he teaches at the yoga studio have fierce competition in well established classes including Mysore. Last week, I saw him just after his evening class. He had only two students and was feeling dejected with the drop in numbers from one week to the next. “I’m just not good enough,” he murmured.

Of course, we all know that it’s not about the numbers when it comes to teaching yoga – at least not from the standpoint of how effective you are as a yoga instructor. I reminded him of the stories he had shared in the past month of students approaching him after his classes to share how the teachings he brought to class had made a positive influence in their lives on and off the mat. These breakthroughs physically, mentally, and spiritually are what initially drew him into the practice and are the reason he initially went down the path of teaching: to share “the benefits” with others.

The following day, I ran across an article Elephant Journal posted on their site titled “So You Want to Be a Yoga Superstar“. It reinforced the message that I had been trying to covey. I sent the link along with a little message of loving kindness. Too busy to read it, nearly a week passed and the message was still unread. Knowing that the article was not at all about being a superstar, which is certainly not my friend’s goal for sure. It was merely a reminder of everything he knew already, therefore he put off opening the link. I let it go.

Then, he was asked by the owner of the yoga studio to teach her class. She is brilliantly motivating and über awesomeness times ten. It’s a tough act to follow for anyone following in her footsteps and, in my opinion, just what he needed to push him to the next level in his calling to share his love for the practice. As the time for class drew near, he sent me a few text messages and left a couple of voice messages noting his nervousness. “You’ll be fine.” I told him. “They’ll love you, even if you stumble a few times.” I added, “If Jenn thinks you can do it, then you can do it!”

Of course he pulled off with only a brief issue with getting his music going. And this morning, I even saw a posting on FB from one of the students saying that his class was “great!”

While it is easy for me to note how my friend’s criticism and self doubt trips him up now and again, it is easier from me to acknowledge in him than in myself. How much of the doubts which have arisen around my ability to teach yoga is the result of similar self critique? Is it true that I have nothing to teach others? If that is the case, than why am I attempting to share the lessons learning on my journey here?  Like my friend, I am not setting out to become a yoga superstar; I just want to share this practice with others.

Ten Days

Ten days and counting ‘till my next 100 hour teacher training session. I am cautiously optimistic about the progress I’ve made in healing from my latest injury. At this point, I’m trying to regain stability (on and off the mat) and rebuild strength. Of course it all boils down to a whole lot of self awareness.

Funny, I vaguely remember that “self awareness” was my little word(s) of the year. And where, you may ask, has that gotten me?

Well, I have certainly questioned the direction of my thought, words, and actions a lot this year. The process of trying to stay true to the “right path” – or discover it – has certainly brought me more awareness to areas that could use more of my attention. Even in navigating this injury, I have become more aware of just how valuable “right” thoughts, words, and actions can be.

Obviously, misinterpreting the body’s tightening as merely the result of emotional stress, therefore responding with more stretching and trying to push through it was a detrimental wrong action. But let’s take a look at thoughts: negative or positive, they have tremendous power. They can be the difference between curling up in a ball and crying it out (which I too have done), or figuring out who or what can help you.

Two wrongs certainly don’t make a right but… a few wrong mistakes can lead to a valuable lesson learned. Of course you have to learn from your mistake or it’s not quite the same. I’ve learned A LOT but I still have a lot yet to learn. If I never end up teaching yoga formally, I still think all of my yoga teacher training will help me to lead others in one way or another.

Therefore, as I pull things together for my upcoming training (carpool schedules, meals, reading, RECOVERY, etc.), I intend to do my best to maintain a clear sense of direction and positivity – even when I fall short in attaining my original goal. This is my path; it’s up to me to make it “right” [for me].

Let’s do it. Ten Days!!

Note: I’m still hoping that I will teach in the future.

Returning to the Mat

After being off the mat for about 4 weeks, I’m finding my way again…albeit slowly.

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I desperately want to be back to where I left off (before my injury) but, fortunately, my body is sending very clear messages of when and where I can go. Well…maybe the messages aren’t so clear in where exactly I can go. However, it is very clear about where I cannot go.

I am immensely grateful that I can do any yoga at all. I am also thankful for the lessons in functional anatomy and alignment which this injury has provided me with. It should serve me and my future students well.

On Saturday, I completed the Sun Salutations A & B and all of the standing poses with the exception of Padangusthasana, Padanhastasana, and Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana (per Dr. Pederson’s advice). I will be able to add these poses back in due time. I followed with Navasana (boat) x 3, Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (bridge) x 2, and just 1 Urdhva Dhanurasana (wheel). I ended with a couple supine twists and Savasana.

In the end, body felt like it had worked yet I felt good that I had pushed myself in a safe manner. I rolled onto my side and proceeded to dedicate the benefits of my practice to my youngest son who’s football game would begin in less than an hour. After finishing up, I showered, dressed, and was on my way to his game.

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Lost Bandhas

I was given the green light to return to yoga. Actually, it is more like a flashing yellow light which me entering the intersection with caution. But still…

Dr. Pedersen, my chiropractor, reviewed the primary sequence with me. Together, we discussed an approach to utilize in my return to practice. The poses which should be skipped, at this point, and poses to pay close attention to pushing too far. Similar to my bout with SI issues in January, careful attention to limit spinal flexion (aka tailbone tucking) is the current game. In addition, special attention to supporting my spine with the aid of my bandhas is a must.

There’s just one problem…I seem to have misplaced them.


Believe me, once you experience the usefulness of bandhas in your yoga practice, you become hooked. For me, they are the glue that holds me together — attaching my stomach to my spine and providing a nice brace for safe movement. The marionette like lifting that they provide is also nice (however I am still learning how to harness my strings to the ceiling for floaty jump-backs and jump-throughs).

Since they are so essential, I am asking for some help. Knowing that I am limited in my ability to launch into a full practice, and that I cannot allow a lot of spinal flexion until I have fully engaged my abdominals, if you have any tips on strengthening them, please  share in the blog comments section immediately following this post.

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