I was honored to teach 9 lovely women last Friday for my first of three sessions of my “Desk Chair Yoga” series. Wow, 30 minutes can really fly by fast. But it was delightful and I got lots of great feedback after the class.
There is a waiting list for the next time around (I will likely repeat this series in March) and a colleague asked me more about yoga today. She said she had been intimidated to try it. She had been overweight for years, and downward dog just didn’t feel good to her wrists or knees. I get it. One reason I became a teacher is that I wanted to be able to modify for those who (like me) may have injuries or challenges where the “average” yoga class is not suitable.
So I began with what I love about yoga: it means union. It is about union of the body and mind, and perhaps the spirit if you are inclined that way. When I introduced my class last Friday I told everyone: your body is the authority on what you do in this class.
Nothing in yoga should cause pain. There may be some discomfort when you are releasing chronically held tension, or a bit of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) as when you do anything new/different with your muscles. However, respecting the principle of “ahimsa” or non-violence is central to yoga. We must have compassion for our bodies, the wisdom encoded within them, and the ways they communicate our needs.
All of this connected with my colleague. Several other colleagues joined the discussion on what they did and did not enjoy about past yoga classes. I am so grateful to share these wonderful practices for calming the nervous system. Remember this:
Your body is the authority. Treat her kindly and as the wise teacher that she is. The mind is a wonderful servant but a terrible master. Let your body lead instead. 😉
For my blog readers who live in the Twin Cities area, here’s an opportunity to get 50% off early-bird registration for my first actual yoga class that is open to the public. It is part of my certification requirement to teach a 5-hour series over a period of time so I can watch an average of 6 “bodies” make progress over time.
I set up my registration info right after I finished my last yoga weekend. All of my YTT-200 teachers will have access to the discount as well, as I truly would love feedback on my teaching. I will need a consistent group so I am pricing this series as a package.
I humbly appreciate it if you spread the word to anyone you know who could benefit from such an opportunity. The sign-up link is here. Use the coupon code TULA50 to get half off the registration by September 15th.
If you cannot commit just yet, there is another coupon code listed in the brochure for signing up by the 25th of this month. Most of the fee goes to overhead for the lovely space and rental of regular yoga props gratefully furnished by Tula Yoga & Wellness.
Thank you for helping me become a better teacher through this experience!
We are not going to solve a broken health care system with a food system that is poisoning our population. Until we begin to understand that sugar, flour and other processed and “powdered” foods are killing us, and that we are addicted to them, both systems will remain broken.
When I began to understand the role that food was playing in my life as a comfort mechanism and a way to “medicate” my emotions, I started waking up to what I needed to do in order to promote vitality and health in my life.
What I see in our national discourse is a lack of understanding of how privilege and knowledge function in keeping some people focused on their next meal, rather than on the future they can build.
I love personal empowerment literature and believe many of us can control our destinies because of the choices we can make. But there are systemic problems in our schools, communities, cities, states and the world that do not allow every person with high potential to thrive.
Hidden Brain replayed an episode on the scarcity trap a few weeks ago, on the problem we have of the “tunnel vision” that develops when we are desperate for something. We spend our time and mental energy focusing on the scarce item item (whether it is food, or time, or health) so obsessively that there is little time for anything else.
But really then we have a scarcity of insight, because we focus so strongly on the current problem that we are unable to see the bigger picture. We are unable to make good decisions for the long-term because all we see is the lack, the need. We may sacrifice long-term rewards because we are stuck in that cycle of lack.
When people feel they lack power over their own lives, they make decisions that may not be in their own best interest. They fall back on “what they know” rather than trying something that may feel risky to them, or that could jeopardize what they do have.
Taking good care of our health and well-being is not something we see modeled for us in this culture of “busy-ness as a status symbol” (thank you Brene, Brown). It is indeed a radical act of self-love and self-compassion to attend to our wellness regularly and without apology.
Taking in only what nourishes us and rejecting or minimizing anything that depletes us is the way to true health and lasting joy. For those of us with enough privilege to know where our next meals are coming from, and who have decent health care and a good support system, we have amazing power to choose in our lives.
Let us now empower those around us to get what they need as well. In a country of plenty, what if nobody lacked basic necessities such as food and health care? Imagine the explosion of creativity and innovation that could exist if we could empower every person to live up to their full potential.
I realized recently that I grew up on the poor side of town. I did not grow up poor, mind you. I grew up with lots of love, a wonderful family and in a safe neighborhood in a small town. But I always thought of our lifestyle as “middle class.”
My family always had enough to eat, we never went without any basic necessities, clothing, health care or even luxuries like television and eventually a microwave. My sis and I shared a bedroom until I moved to the basement in high school so I could wake up earlier to run in the early pre-dawn hours.
But social class and income class are not the same thing. Both my parents had college degrees. Mom chose to stay home and raise her daughters until we were in middle and high school, when she went back to work part-time, as a substitute teacher. I just assumed that meant we were middle class.
My Dad was a teacher and a leader in the local community. All of the parents of the students he taught in the bilingual program treated him as a respected professional in our small town. Of course, some administrators and teachers were not as respectful. He had his share of good principals and a few racist.
Recently my mother-in-law called herself “working class.” I was shocked. She has a master’s degree and she and her husband bought and sold homes together a few times during their history. So I always considered her middle class. But she considered herself working class. Probably it was more about her upbringing (to her) than any type of income category.
In contrast, my parents never bought a home. Not quite enough income from a teacher’s salary. We had the advantage of summers at Grandma’s house in Bemidji. So we did not go without space to enjoy ourselves in the summer, on a lake in Minnesota, no less. It was a long drive from Southern Wisconsin, but we had the picnic lunches that my Mom made, and there were rest areas for potty breaks. It was a blessing for us. We read books all, swam in the lake nearly every day, and there was plenty of introvert re-charge time.
By income standards, we probably would have been considered working class, or perhaps slightly less. In comparison to families with two working parents, mine were certainly not as well-off financially. But I always had what I needed. I always had a couple of new school outfits to start the year. There were a lot of farm kids in my school, so all of us had pretty similar income, or so I imagined.
I relied heavily on need-based financial aid for a private college, but being 2nd in my class in high school, I qualified for it. I won’t say I didn’t work hard for that. It may have helped that my name belied my half-Mexican origin. But I was born in Wisconsin, not Juarez. Therein, by the grace of god, lies the difference.
Why was I born here? Because my Mom fell in love with her guitar teacher when she studied in Mexico. And he fell in love with a Minnesotan woman, despite her mother serving as a chaperone on most of their dates. Why did I have the opportunities I have today? Because my family worked hard, and made sacrifices for me, so I could grow up healthy and happy.
I started thinking about people who use racism and class-ism to divide people. Take ahem… our Harasser-in-Chief. No matter how much money he makes, or pretends to make, he will always have NO class.
You know why? Because class, true class, is about how you treat people. It is about your character.
My father always treated the cooks and the janitors in his school as respectfully as he treated the other teachers. I learned to treat people as equals, not as superior or inferior due to their education or social status. I am really proud that both my Mom and Dad taught me that the measure of a good person is in how kindly you treat others.
To be a classy person is to realize that it is not about what you have, or what you do. There is honor in ALL work, and there is compassion for those who may not have work right now. There is a belief that ALL people are worthy of human dignity, no matter their skin color, creed, religion, or national origin. America was founded on these principles, that all people were created equal, which is why I am still proud to call this home.