life in these Yoga States (apologies to the Reader’s Digest)

WARNING: GUARANTEED TO PISS OFF SOMEBODY SOMEWHERE

yoga studio owner

There are many things in this world that make me go hmmm……and one of them is the way yoga teachers are treated.

My long-time readers know why I no longer teach weekly classes in studios and you can read my sorry stories here.    But over the years of writing this blog I’ve received emails from both teachers and students venting about things in their own little corners of the yoga world.   I’m a bit overwhelmed that people trust me enough to share their feelings so openly with me, someone they only know via this blog.

Of course there are good, thoughtful, and compassionate studio owners, the majority I’m sure.   Of course I have been treated well and fairly and I respect many studio owners and count them as friends.  It’s tough to be self-employed and run any business and I am sure owners have many complaints about teachers — I’ve heard owners’ stories about teachers not showing up to teach.  After more than a few years I have ventured into teaching a public class again not at a yoga studio but at a belly-dance studio and I love it because it’s a very different vibe.

But unfortunately in my experience and in the experience of those who write or tell me things, the ill treatment of teachers by owners is, let’s just say, something special.  Weird.  Puzzling.  Passive-aggressive.  Even diabolical sometimes.  Should the yoga biz be any different from the real world?  I’ll get to that.

I know a teacher who went to the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram for private classes.  She shared what she learned in the asana classes with her students.  She told her students “this is what I learned in India” and she said her students loved the practices.  Well, all except for one student.   In the teacher’s words:

“Students were eager to learn and experience for themselves the KYM style of yoga.

They embraced it even though it had a different rhythm. Many said that it was simpler and they felt more responsible for their practice and found that they were able focus on their breath and breath as they repeated poses on their own.  A student from another teacher dropped into my class one day and didn’t like this different style and thus reported back to other students in her regular classes and ultimately the studio owner that they did not like the way I was teaching my class.  Don’t get me wrong, everyone is entitled to their opinion and free to go to the class of their choosing with a teacher that they resonate with.  However, when this unconstructive, third hand feedback was shared with me by the studio owner there was an implication that what I was doing was wrong or bad or strange or something – just not preferred by her students.  OK, whatever.” **

From a Canadian yoga teacher:

“The studio owners came to me and asked me to change the style of yoga I was teaching as they were moving towards a branded style of yoga.  As a yoga teacher with 10 years experience and a specific training that involves pranayama and therapy in asana, I said I could probably change some things about my class (i.e., create a similar class that was a more challenging level of practice and make the class more of a flow class), but not change the focus on meditation in my class, the seated and focused pranayama at beginning and end, and the attention paid to mantra. 

This conversation was conducted over email and the owner’s  response was that my classes were not at threat, but that she would like me to attend her training sessions in order to teach her new style of yoga.  I told her I could not attend as they were half day workshops on Saturdays, I already taught two back-to-back classes on Saturdays, and that would mean I would be away from my family for 6-8 hours on Saturdays.

After this discussion my pay checks stop coming.  I did not get paid for 2.5 months by this studio.  I vocalized my disapproval in a series of professional emails.  On the cusp of the third month of not being paid for my three classes a week, I was finally paid and with this pay told I was no longer needed to teach at the studio.  They gave me two days notice.  They told me not to come back to the studio.  They told my students I left for personal reasons.  I later found out I was not the only teacher treated so poorly. 

The studio is a hot yoga studio with three locations.   I was told I was being let go because I had created a feeling of resistance in their peaceful studio space.  In fact, I had tried to comply to the studio owner’s wishes without compromising my own unique qualities as a teacher.   In the end, it was for the best that my relationship with this studio ended as my service was not best suited for the space.” **

Yes, we’re all human, we each have our foibles and shadow selves and crazy ass shit we deal with, but somehow, at least in my opinion, the yoga studio should be a little bit different from the usual shit in the corporate world or wherever a yoga teacher comes from.  Dare I say it, a “sacred” space?  A little kinder?  A calming respite from the usual shit we deal with on a daily basis?   Yamas, anyone?  If I wanted to be screamed at and treated like a peon, I’d still work for lawyers.  OK, my 20 years in the legal biz wasn’t THAT bad, but you get the idea.  Probably one of the reasons why the sadhus go live in caves in India.

In the first example, on another occasion the owner told the teacher that some people in her class did not like the 20 minutes of yin yoga she tried in her class.   What is the purpose of telling a teacher that students don’t like what you’re teaching?  Because the owner thinks the teacher should change her teaching style?  Or shouldn’t be teaching what she teaches at the studio?  Or maybe because the owner is fearful that students would like the teacher’s class more than hers so it’s a little passive-aggressive put down?  Is it a control thing?  I mean, unless the teacher is incompetent or injures people, but….seems just damn hurtful (spiteful?) to me and isn’t yoga supposed to be empowering for both students and teachers?  But, hell…what do I know?

As the teacher said, the comment was not constructive criticism, only that “someone doesn’t like what you teach.”  OK, fine, so those that don’t like won’t go to the teacher’s class.  But whatever happened to accepting what is offered to you and being grateful?  I have been in many classes and workshops over 15+ years of yoga-ing that I did not particularly care for but always took away a little something.  Teachings are like a bowl of rice — pick out the dirt and eat the rest.

In the second example, if the studio is switching their focus, that’s fine, a business owner is entitled to run their business as they see fit, but why the drama, the non-payment?  Too much drama is one of the reasons I no longer teach public group classes, too much Dramasana in the studios where I’ve taught.  It’s too exhausting and too much of an energy drain.   Soul sucking, in fact.

“The case of acro yoga: is it yoga or not?  What say you?”

The above question was asked by a Facebook friend (yoga teacher) on her Facebook page.

I asked the same question here and was blacklisted from teaching workshops at the brand new yoga studio in my town.

I know.  Hard to believe in this land of First Amendment rights.  I felt a little McCarthyized.   I’m waiting for the House Committee on Un-Yogic Activities to investigate me.

The thing was, I was scheduled to teach two weekend workshops last December about two weeks after the studio opened.  The owner never advertised my workshops and they were never listed on her website, which was new and which she said she had no control over.   So without adequate advertising, no one signed up (I had students who wanted to attend but the dates did not work for them and they kept asking me when it would be rescheduled.)  I was fine with no one signing up, we had talked about a new date, but I was a bit irked about the lack of advertising (I advertised on my own via my website, Facebook, word of mouth, and emails.)

The owner said she was going to reschedule me but I waited….and waited….and waited…and waited.  Sent her an email asking to set a new date.  No response and then I left for India.  When I was in India in February I emailed the owner once again about rescheduling.

Here’s what she said:  that “the day we had our phone discussion [about canceling my workshops] you took to your blog attacking studios offering acro yoga.”  That’s why she has not asked me back to the studio.

Uh, what?

I re-read the post (where I write about acro yoga in ONE paragraph) and nowhere do I “attack” any studio so much as question acro yoga in general — as any other yoga blogger commenting on the modern yoga scene might do.  I even asked friends to read it and asked for their opinions.  I received comments such as “beautifully stated”, “thought provoking”, and “grounding.”  As someone said, perception is everything in life.  Deepak Chopra says:  “There is no fixed physical reality, no single perception of the world, just numerous ways of interpreting world views as dictated by one’s nervous system and the specific environment of our planetary existence.”  I get it.  Yeah, me too.

I emailed her back and told her that I have been writing about yoga since 2005 and I don’t “attack” anyone (OK, maybe the Tara Stiles thing three years ago got heated.)  I said I was sorry if she felt attacked but it was her perception.  I said there are other yoga bloggers out there who are much more scathing about the modern yoga scene than I am.  I told her that I comment on the modern yoga scene as I see fit and have been doing so for a long time, much longer than she has been teaching.  I said I am infamous known for having a fierce voice in the yoga blogosphere and for “keeping it real.”  I said that if my blog is not everyone’s cup of chai, so be it, but if someone puts something out there about yoga and I have an opinion about it, I will write about it.

But apparently questioning something means that I “don’t think very highly of practices that aren’t in sync” with mine (her words.)  Today I read the excellent article “The Seduction of Spiritual Celebrity” where Derek Beres writes: that “the dismissal of critique in American spiritual communities is reminiscent of the anti-intellectual crusade that Richard Hofstadter warned about a half-century ago.”  It’s not so much anti-intellectualism, but certainly there is a political correctness in the modern American yoga scene that any criticism is seen as bad, negative, hateful, or that ubiquitous word, “un-yogic.”

C’mon now!  I have a friend who does Bikram yoga and I make fun of her all the time!  And I hate Iyengar yogis!  Those crazy astangis?  Fuhgeddaboudem!

Snark alert!  I’m kidding!

Oh well.  I’d rather take the chance on pissing somebody off than not questioning the status quo.  A good friend told me I was put on this Earth to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.  ;)

Ouch.

A wise writer wrote, “I have lost my polestar if I only spout platitudes.”

You can be the juiciest, ripest apple in the world and there’s gonna be someone who just doesn’t dig apples.

[**the teachers gave their permission to write about their stories here.]

finding my tribe

godsNgoddesses

Recently my Kali Sister, Svasti, wrote about finding her tribe.  I can certainly relate to that.  That has pretty much been the story of my life. usually an outsider, always the loner.  I’m that person whom when you first meet me you think I’m a bitch or creepy because I don’t do small talk, never have.  I’m a hard nut to crack.  A former boss told me a very long time ago that those who give up or who don’t want to make the effort aren’t worthy to be in my life anyway.  My nickname used to be Loba (Spanish feminine for wolf) because as I was told, wolves and wild women are always misunderstood.

This relates to the tarot card reading I had last week.   Besides what I wrote about the reader was emphatic when she told me that I should “be ready” when I get back from India because I will “need” to find a bigger space for teaching, she was certain of it.   Whether it is enlarging my home shala, renting space, collaborating with someone,  whatever it is, she said it will happen.  And yesterday it fell into my lap.

Yesterday I met a former student now yoga teacher for coffee.  We had a lovely discussion and she said she had a theory about me (I love hearing people’s theories about me), that I am not a “pushing” teacher but a “pulling” teacher.  By “pushing” she meant the type of teacher who is always telling you to take their classes, filling your in box with emails about workshops, etc.

In her opinion a “pulling” teacher draws you in by virtue of, well, by not doing the things a pushing teacher does.  Students find a pulling teacher on their own, kind of like a resonance, radar, synchronicity, whatever you want to call it.  I thought about what she said and realized that my home shala students are just like that because they’ve been with me almost since Day One of my teaching over 10 years ago.

This woman only took 16 weeks of yoga with me more than a few years ago at a place where I no longer teach but she said she never lost sight of me, she always followed my doings.  We reconnected because she invited me to take her class, a class specifically for belly dancers as she is one herself.  Her teaching was lovely, the real deal, it wasn’t scripted, it was honest and smart.  She is a new teacher but not a “new” teacher if you know what I mean.  She is already seasoned and has marinated for a while and long time readers of this blog know what I mean by how yoga marinates us.

The space where she teaches is inside a belly dance studio that is inside a holistic center in an old, rehabbed building (read: “with character and good energy”) in an area where I used to teach.  The holistic center offers energy work, acupuncture, holistic chiropractic care, among other things.  When I walked in I was greeted immediately by the person at the door with warmth and laughter and the building had nice, uplifting energy.  The yoga teacher who had the space for a number of years left (from what I hear she couldn’t make a go of it for whatever reason) and my friend suggested me to the belly dance studio operator.  She then connected us on Facebook and before I had a chance to respond, the proprietress contacted me.  We will start discussions and if it’s meant to be when I return in April, it’s meant to be, I’m open.

What does this have to do with finding my tribe?  That I should find my own tribe is something my astrologer first told me years ago, even before I went to India the first time.  It’s in my natal chart plain as day.  The longer I teach, the more I realize the so-called yoga community is not my tribe, but there is nothing negative in that idea.  It just is.  Unfortunately some in my local yoga scene think that if you’re not with us, you’re against us.   No, not so because I’ve never been part of mainstream anything.  I’ve always walked to a different drummer, you say go right and I go left.  It’s probably why I’ve never had any desire to attend any type of yoga fest.

Without getting into any specifics I’ve heard a plethora of stories lately about people in my local yoga scene, stories about teachers and owners, the usual yoga studio drama yama, all of which makes me uber-glad once again that I teach out of my house.  It also makes me glad that I am leaving for India a week from this Sunday.  As a friend told me, “I bet you can’t wait to leave.”

So given the stories I’ve heard lately and one thing that happened to me just this week (again, no specifics), Kali Ma gave me a slap upside the head as She is prone to do.  Boom Shiva!  I thought, it ain’t the yoga peeps, baby, it never was, my tribe is other energy workers (why the serious call last year to learn more energy healing?) and dancers (since I connect with dance as much as I do with yoga.)

Coincidence about the possible space?  I think not.

Boom laka laka laka, I’m gonna take it higher.

is the yoga studio model dead and how ’bout those "yoga communities"?



(photo credit: bindifry)

[Buddha's teachings that we should surround ourselves with like-minded friends]

“the community was blighted with some unfortunate cattiness, competitiveness and general high-school girl behaviour.”

Hallelujah! I’m not the only one who feels this way!

The above quote was taken from Nadine’s blog. Nadine moved from South Africa to Australia and I’m happy that she is so happy in the Australian yoga scene.

My experiences in yoga studios have not been the most positive, but I take everything as a lesson. sometimes the negatives are greater teachers than the positives. I also believe in karma so maybe the Universe is telling me something about teaching in yoga studios. hey, maybe I was a total bee-atch yoga studio owner in a past life so now I’m getting what’s coming to me. all I know is that I am going to think long and hard before I teach in a studio again.

One of my loyal readers told me that his teacher said “the studio model is dead” and that comment intrigued me. he said that it’s not that she doesn’t still teach some group classes, but rather that those are basically seva and a way to attract students to do the workshops, teacher trainings, and especially private lessons where mature practice can happen.

“Private lessons where mature practice can happen” is also an interesting statement, “mature” being the operative word for me. my teachers in India taught that personal transformation can only begin in a group class but is accomplished by working one-on-one with a teacher in the classical way and I truly believe this.

As for those “yoga communities” I’m the first to admit that because of my recent experiences the phrase leaves me colder than sitting on top of an iceberg. Brenda had a blog post about it where readers weighed in.

So what say you? is the “studio model dead” especially in this economy? and what about those “yoga communities” that everyone talks about and wants to develop? is it about talking the talk and walking the walk? or are “yoga communities” no different from your neighborhood coffee klatch where we just get to wear that cool yoga jewelery?

More on this later as thought develop, so talk amongst yourselves. I’d really like some comments especially from newbie yoga teachers and studio owners. I’d also like to know if teacher trainings nowadays are incorporating more yoga business aspects to the trainings, i.e., “yoga in the real world.”

with metta always….

addthis_pub = ‘yogagal60510′;

fear and loathing in the yoga world, part 2

Fear and Loathing in the Yoga World, Part 1

I will say from the start that the studio owner who fired me in an email last week later realized that her actions were not the most professional or reasonable. she admitted that she should have called me and she regretted what she did. however, the damage had already been done. you can’t unring a bell. you can’t undo the damage that you did.

She sent her screaming email late at night accusing me of things I did not do, so it was too late for me to call her. I wrote back to her immediately explaining how I could not have done the things she accused me of, which were:

1. sending “consistent” emails to students with “negative connotations” about her and the studio. more about that later.

2. calling a woman who was scheduled to do thai yoga massage after my Sunday morning class and asking her to cancel her appointments so that I could use the space. the story about that is even more bizarre than #1.

The situation is that she is closing the studio at the end of the year, not because of the economy, but because it was a hobby that turned into a real business. a successful yoga studio with committed students. I should be so lucky. she admits that she never realized how much work a “real business” takes and it all got to be too much so she decided to close up shop and sell the building. that’s fine, it’s her decision, and I have to say that when I first heard this news I had little reaction to it because all things are impermanent, so be it. but I did tell her that I would look for my own space, maybe even buy a building, I was upfront about that from the get go. and I have found my own space starting in January. so when she told me I was “going behind her back”, that accusation floored me.

I’ll try to make this convoluted story short. I had given up my night class and the owner gave it to another teacher. I emailed a few of my night students saying that I regret I am no longer teaching this class, so-and-so will be teaching it, and I hope to see them in January in my new night class. that’s it. I had also sent an earlier email announcing my new space and my new classes to all students who had voluntarily given me their emails. by the way, all the students know the studio is closing.

As it turned out, the owner taught the night class after which she sent the scathing email to me. she said that three students (who were my students obviously) came up to her after class with the accusations about the “consistent” (two) emails with the “negative connotations.” I did not understand how they could have interpreted anything negative from my emails.

As for asking the thai massage practitioner to “cancel” her appointments, I did call the woman to ask if she was using the space after my Sunday morning class. I wanted to know because a friend who is a semi-pro photographer was coming to the studio after my class to take some shots of me. she told me yes, she’s using the space after my class, and I said fine, I’ll just reschedule. that was it. for whatever reason, the thai massage practitioner called the owner and told her I called. when the owner accused me of wanting to “cancel” this woman’s appointments behind the owner’s back, I called the practitioner and asked her why she told the owner the lie about me. let’s just say I was not my most yogic self. she claimed she did not. when the owner later admitted she acted hastily, she told me that the practitioner did not use the word “cancel”, but that it was hard for her to imagine that she would have heard anything different. so as for who was telling the truth, I had no idea and I did not care. the damage had already been done.

As for the students telling tales about me, human nature is what it is. and I’m sorry to say this, but yoga students love to stir things up. admit it, because y’all know it’s true — in fact, maybe some of you reading this have done it yourself. in our subsequent discussion about it, the owner told me about how students would tell her that so-and-so teacher doesn’t do this, or doesn’t do that, or teaches shoulderstand like this, he doesn’t teach it the way you do, blah blah blah blah blah. I’ve heard students speak horribly about sub yoga teachers, I’ve seen students walk out of classes because “their” teacher wasn’t there that day. I have to ask: what the hell are you doing? and why? I’m here to tell you, if any of you reading this has ever done that, you should be ashamed. yoga is about cultivating an attitude of gratitude and if you don’t have one, yoga has taught you nothing.

After my experience with the alcoholic studio owner, this screaming email brought back bad memories. there was no way I was going to allow another studio owner to treat me like garbage. there was no way I was going to let those lies about me stand. in her original email she wrote that I should send back my key and when she got it she would send my last check and my mat. no way, I thought, I’m getting my things in person, so I called the next day. as it turned out, we talked for an hour. reasonably. I explained my side of the situation. and she became contrite and humble. she never once said “I’m sorry” but she admitted she acted unreasonably. so we agreed to meet the next day so I could get my mat and money.

We met the following morning (the email was Monday night, this was Wednesday morning) and I must say that I was not at all upset. I had let it go. in Buddhism there are three sensations: attachment, aversion, and neutrality. at that moment I was neutral. I walked in, gave her my key, and said I’m getting my mat. she stopped me and said “I must tell you these things…” and she began to tell me how wrong she was. I sat and listened. but the damage had already been done, you can’t unring the bell.

She admitted that the whole situation was a learning experience for her, about how she is ruled by her emotions, about how reactive she is, about how she is very attached to the studio even though she is giving it up. I let her talk and said, “well, I have much more life experience than you,” (she is only about 30), “and I would advise you that next time someone tells you something, to investigate it.” I asked her what she thought the purpose was of those students saying those things about me. I also told her to ask herself why she believed them so readily.

I told her that after this whole experience I am re-thinking whether I should continue to teach in that community. she told me that I would have to do what is right for me but she thought it would be a disservice if I did not. she said that I should not let the actions of the three students ruin it for the others. I told her I appreciated that.

So this entire situation was a learning experience for her but also for me. it was a lesson on letting our emotions rule us, a lesson on reactivity, a lesson on investigation. these are all things that Buddha taught about.

The owner’s first email compared to her contrite second email was absolutely Dr. Jekyll and Mrs. Hyde. since this incident I’ve heard more than a few stories from teachers about the Jekyll and Hyde personalities of yoga studio owners. and all I have to say for right now is “never again.” and for any yoga studio owners reading this, think long and hard about how you treat your teachers and about how much support you give them.

I’m tired of the drama of yoga studios. the alcoholic studio owner (about whom I am finally neutral), the immaturity of the second owner….I think the Universe is giving me another kick in the yoga butt that the studio model is dead for me. time for me to move on to bigger and better things. time for me to examine my own yoga teaching paradigm. my gal pal who lives in India told me that I need to find a “goddess in residence” yoga gig somewhere. I think she’s right. if you have one, let me know, I’ll be on the next Lufthansa flight out.

After my meditation class last night I talked about this with my teacher, the Theravadan Buddhist monk. his dharma talk was about attachment and the Ego, whether there is an “I” and if so, what is it. after our sit I told him that working with attachment and craving is easy for me, but my Ego troubles arise from my aversion (the flip side of attachment) and I told him briefly what happened. he is a relatively young monk but very wise and I always feel at peace after our talks. he said, “why are letting this bother you? you know your truth, you know the type of person you are. no one can change that by their words. let it go.” I said, “but what about the lies about me? my mind continually asks ‘why why why’, that is what makes me crazy.” he said, “accept that sometimes there is no answer. those people have their own problems, don’t create your own problems because you are upset. you will never know their motivations. let it go.” finally he said, “this is a lesson for you, too, a lesson to teach you loving-kindness. send them loving-kindness.”

fear and loathing in the yoga world

I’m just a problem girl.

It’s been said that one should never say never, but as for my teaching in any more yoga studios, for right now, in this present moment (and I actually said it all this week) I can say, never again.

In my humble opinion, when you’re a starry-eyed newbie yoga teacher there is a little part of you that longs for that perfect yoga community of like-minded holistic souls who will unconditionally love and support one other; where it does not make any difference what style one teaches, how much our yoga clothes cost, who one trained with, or whether one does adjustments or not, because in the end, it’s all good and perfect and lovely in the peace-love-dove yoga world. yoga teachers are all one big happy family when we travel to Mecca — I mean the yoga conferences — and happily chant AUM and SHANTI and celebrate the Goddess in each of us as we yoga trance dance and cry together in those ubiquitous group hugs….”farewell, Tiffani Shanti Lakshmi, see you next year at the Tantric Goddess workshop in Omaha!”

And then reality hits you in the face like a wet, stinky yoga mat rug that 100 Bikram yogis just sweated on.

I understand that people are people and human nature is what it is whether you’re a plumber or a Fortune 500 CEO. we all have our foibles and the little things that make us and the people in our lives insane. call me stupid, but somehow, somewhere deep inside one’s heart, you just don’t expect to be screwed (figuratively) by a another yoga teacher. that just ain’t supposed to happen. is it? somehow I just don’t expect to be treated like one of the huge piles of excrement that I walk around in an Indian street. I must have missed that day in my first teacher training: “What To Do When a Yoga Studio Owner Treats You Like Shit.”

Oh…I’m sorry…is that too real and honest for you? because I’ve been told that I’m too real and honest. well, fasten your seat belts, children, because you’re in for a bumpy ride.

Those of you who are regular readers might remember that I left a studio last year because the alcoholic studio owner walked in stumbling drunk to one of my workshops and into one of my classes (during savasana no less.) I wrote about it here and here. The irony is that the studio I refer to in those posts, the one where I moved to, the one I was so grateful to teach at, is the studio where I was FIRED from this week. yes, dear readers, yours truly was FIRED from a yoga studio. I was told that I was no longer welcome there.

The most surreal thing about it was that I was accused of things I did not do and instead of reasonably picking up the phone and asking whether these things were true, the studio owner fired off a screaming email — I WILL LET THAT SINK IN: I WAS FIRED IN AN EMAIL — telling me to mail my key because I was no longer welcome at the studio. but I digress. back to the alcoholic owner.

I understand addiction. believe me, I do. been there, done that, momma don’t ride dat hoss no mo’, y’all. and any of you out there who know or live with addicts know it’s hell. but when you try to help someone and you’re abused for it and you’re lied to, I walk. the thing is, I could handle the alcoholic owner, but what I could not handle was the total lack of support from every other teacher at the studio (except for one who also walked.) not one teacher called to show their support or to ask how I was. not one. ever. it was like I had died.

I was so upset about the situation that I talked to my teacher, a Theravadan Buddhist monk, who felt that those teachers talked the talk but didn’t walk the walk. he thanked me for coming to him because he said if she ever walked in liked that to his dharma class “I would just….” and he moved his fingers like he was walking, “and I would not even say goodbye.” he told me that I did the right thing in confronting the owner about her addiction. and if a Buddhist monk tells me that, then that’s OK by me.

So much for the “yoga community”, a phrase that makes me regurgitate faster than eating salmonella infested potato salad. and the rage over what I felt was a betrayal stuck in my body as chronic, sometimes excrutiating, back pain for a year. talk about my aversion creating my suffering.

to be continued…..