It’s February 2021: we just completed one of the most devastating years in our country’s history to then have complete turmoil in both January and February, and I’m wondering: where are we all going from here?
I read a lot of books in 2020, which is my typical thing to do when I don’t know what to do: read, learn, absorb, better myself, become someone new. At least a book a week, if not more, books on marketing and business and on feelings and emotional well-being and yoga and aging and brain health and addictions and disease and marriage and leadership and about 4 new books on the Enneagram and a couple books on women’s health and Chinese Medicine. A few women’s memoirs and poetry books and romance novels were thrown in the mix to boot.
I read to learn, to enhance my mind, to better myself.
I read to move past the place I currently am at in life.
I read to figure out who I am, and who you are, and how we all got here, and what we’re supposed to do now that we’re here.
Outside of that, and outside of my work hours, I’ve spent a lot of time in silence. I’m often staring off into space. I don’t leave the house, almost never, actually, and I’m very rarely around anyone other than my husband and my dog.
If you know me, you’d probably think I’m depressed.
I’m not depressed.
I’m observing, and I’m absorbing.
I think a lot about my values and who I want to be and how I want to show up for the world. I think a lot about what I’ve learned and how to be a better wife and a better friend and a better listener and a better leader and I think about one big question, the thing I mention in the title of this post: What do I do with yoga? Did I quit teaching yoga? Did the world stop caring about yoga?
There’s an enormous, I mean enormous amount of things about yoga and yoga teachers that I try to separate myself from. The guru culture, to start. The rich, white, soccer mom culture. The expensive pants from Canada. The daily, inspirational, glass-half-full postings.
The obsession with having a yoga ass. The obsession with mastering a handstand. The obsession with sitting still for 20 minutes a day. The obsession with pronouncing words correctly in Sanskrit.
The fact that many teachers get a kick out of standing in front of a class speaking their mind about race and politics and anatomy and emotional health and wellness and those people have 200 hours worth of training in pretty much none of the above. 200 hours.
The fact that I lie awake at night wondering if I’ve been that said teacher: that woman spewing some shit I know nothing about, lecturing about liberation or mixing up parts of our anatomy or talking about twists that rid the bodies of unwanted emotions.
Oh shit. I hope I haven’t been that woman.
And I’m sure that I have been.
I’m still friends with yoga teachers on Facebook, and on Facebook, when I see them post about yoga, or about living their best life, or asking all their friends to log into their online class, I roll my eyes.
I’ve been that person, begging people to please come to my classes. Please bring a friend. Please help keep this practice alive. Please look at mindful, flexible, strong me. Don’t you wanna?
And now, a few short years later, I have serious disdain for all of it.
It’s been coming for a long time, like a rolling boil in a really big pot. The kind of rolling boil that you think is never going to break. You’re watching and noticing and sensing and the time is dragging and then finally – pop! It boils fully and wholly like a gurgling fountain.
That’s how it’s been. The pop is today.
Often my husband says: Jen, you love teaching. You’re never that happy outside of teaching. You have to keep doing this.
He’s right. I love it. I absolutely love the act of teaching, the act of creating, that high before you begin, that high when you end. The smiling faces and the hugs afterwards. I love it.
I love sequencing my classes, planning playlists, figuring out which pose we’re going to work towards and what creative way I can get my students there. I love the unknowing of: is this going to work? Are they going to like this? Am I going to take them somewhere new? Is this class going to be worth it for them to lose $20 over?
And I wonder: what else, outside of yoga, does one do, with all this yoga? What else is after this? What else can I do with a 500-hour yoga certification and my infinite number of hours outside of those certifications studying senior yoga, and mindfulness, and meditation, and Ayurveda, and the chakras, and restorative yoga, and Chinese Medicine. What do I do with all of that?
Who do I become?
I’ve kept these words inside for so long, but I bet you have them, too. I bet you other teachers are looking in the mirror like: What the heck am I supposed to do? I believe in the practices, but I hate what it’s become. I love teaching, but I don’t get paid to teach. I want to be a part of a studio, but all the studios are gone.
You’re there too, aren’t you.
What I had been telling myself for years is: These practices and these trainings and these teachings have made me into a better person. They helped me build my business, and they helped me lead with emotional intelligence. I apply them every single day. It was worth it. It’s still worth it.
Does that mean I’ll teach this year, or ever again? Maybe so, maybe not. Does it mean I’ll be posting about upcoming classes on Facebook, begging you to come? Oh dear, I’m sorry if that day comes. Does it mean I’ll turn my back on yoga forever? I don’t think so.
And I don’t think you will either. I think all of us, all of us on this road together, we were meant to experience these things and meant to learn and meant to better ourselves. We’ll apply the teachings daily if we want to. We’ll carry the traditions on if we want to, if not now, then 10 or 20 or 40 years from now. They apply to how we live our lives, to our friendships, our loves, our work, our family, our enemies. They apply to how we eat and breathe, to how we talk about our bodies, to how we show up for the world.
They’re there to help us continue to show up.
If you need a why, or if you need a how, or if you need a what’s next? Believe me that I’ve been there and believe me that these teachings apply to every day. When you’re down or lost or as sick of the yoga culture as I often am, remember why you did it and how you changed and who you became.
And if you choose to keep teaching, do it.
And if you don’t, just don’t forget what you learned along the way.
That’s what I plan to do.