re-inspired for #realyoga

This year has been on-again, off-again for me insofar as yoga.  While I am always grateful for the small, group classes I teach out of my house, the private yoga biz, i.e,. one-on-one yoga/yoga therapy, sucks.  The highlight this summer was helping one of the top-ranked college hurdlers in the country rehab from hip surgeries.  Her mother found me online and the funny thing is she lives down the street from me.  Small world.  I worked with her twice a week and it was a joy.  But a consistent income from that?  A student increase in my small group classes?  No.  This is the first  year I’ve spent more money on my yoga biz (such as trainings) than I brought in.  Someone tell me again how popular and mainstream yoga is.

After 10 years of teaching I seriously considered quitting this year.  “My yoga” is not popular because I am not mainstream, status quo.  Because I have been burned by yoga studio owners and am tired of all the drama yoga studios generate — and I will add IN MY AREA, but from what I hear, it’s not that different in other parts of the country and sometimes even worse — I no longer teach weekly classes in studios.  The style of yoga that I teach is not about kicking your ass and making you sweat, and if you bust out a handstand when I say “child’s pose”, I’m going to call you out.  I love traveling to teach workshops but as for teaching weekly classes, no thanks.  I suppose I would return to teaching classes depending on the studio AND the owner, but I have to say that even thinking about it brings up a physical sensation that is similar to PTSD.  Seriously.  That’s how badly I’ve been abused treated.  Don’t even get me started about the “yoga community.”

I became certified in teaching Trauma Sensitive Yoga this year, a training that I consider one of the most influential that I’ve ever taken, but getting people such as counselors to even consider it has been like pulling teeth.  As I was with eco-garden design with native plants (I am also a garden designer and a certified horticulturist) and thai yoga massage, I am once again ahead of my time.Then I decided to to finally conduct a teacher training and went through the Yoga Alliance rigamaroll.  Instead of being energized about finally being annointed an EXPERIENCED REGISTERED YOGA TEACHER, I became even more depressed.  Finally seeing all my training hours in 10 years — literally 1000 hours — written down in black and white made me think, “what the fuck am I doing?  why bother?”   All my training doesn’t mean shit to a tree, as Grace Slick sang, when it seems that all people care about is getting their ass kicked in a hot yoga class.  It is a rare person in my area of far west suburban Chicago who is willing to pay for private yoga classes — and I live in an upper middle class area.

And please don’t tell me that I am “manifesting” this.  If I hear one more person tell me to “let go of negativity”, “be open”, “throw it out to the Universe”, or any other New Age Secret clap-trap, I’m going NeNe Leakes on your asana.

The fact of the matter is that when one is passionate about  yoga as a path of transformation and all you get are closed doors and little interest, it is very discouraging and frustrating.  My private students understand my frustration and are extremely supportive.  They know I need to go to India because it is there that I am renourished, it is there that real yoga renews me.  Yeah, you read it: “real yoga” — and I don’t care if you don’t like the phrase because I am sick of the political correctness of modern yoga, yoga blogs included.

In all this mix, when I was at my lowest, once again someone whom I’ve never met lifts me up.  A new blog reader — yoga student for 20 years, teacher for 5 — emailed me and told me her story of frustration and indeed, hate, of yoga as it is now taught.  She told me that my writing here is an answer to a prayer and she wanted to express her gratitude.  She told me how her yoga mojo vanished and she entered the dark night of the yoga soul….as what is happening with me now.  She wrote:

“…living in the land of the yoga OBscene, southern california, made matters much worse.  i began to loathe and even used the word hate in re: to yoga.  i officially declared DIVORCE in june of this year.  what had it become?  where are “they” taking it?  who are all these 200 hr YA stamped people who know nothing about, nor care less about, living the yoga??  a friend suggested i stop cursing the dark and light a candle. and arrived.”

Her email overwhelmed me.  I started to cry.  Maybe I am doing something right, I thought, if my writing about yoga can have such an effect.  Aside from my regular weekly students, the support that I receive from those near is practically nil.  Almost all the support in what I do comes from people whom I’ve never met, YOU, out there, globally.  And that amazes me.

This August I finally met a long-time blog reader from Texas and we are collaborating on a yoga project that is going to rock the yoga world, IMO.  I got an email from another reader with a yoga contact in Nova Scotia.  I have another contact for yoga in Cuba.

So should I be depressed that hardly anyone gets me where I live?  Don’t we all want validation, approval from our community, isn’t that human nature?  After I read the above email to my husband, even he said that my home is OUT THERE, NOT HERE.  I just reside here, but I live OUT THERE.  As my friend in Texas reminded me, a prophet is never appreciated in their homeland.  Not that I consider myself a prophet, but I get the analogy.  A long ago private student told me that it’s hard being a pioneer because the pioneers get the arrows shot up the ass.

Ouch.  That’s what that is.