Friday, December 31, 2010

Looking Backwards

"It's the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting."  - From The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

I can't resist taking a moment to reflect on 2010.  This was one hell of an eventful year!

January - March:  Waiting for my real life to begin!

I started off this year living in California, only semi-employed, finishing up the last pieces of my Master's degree and counting down the days until teacher training.  Those months were fun, I guess.  To tell you the truth, it's all kind of a blur now.  I seem to have done quite a lot of yoga and blogging.  A bunch of us were running the Bikram101 blog, which was really good fun.  (Although really, 101 day challenge?  I doubt I'll ever do that again.  I like my yoga, but I like a day off now and then!)  There were some gems in there; if you missed it the first time around, it's worth going back and reading from the beginning!  (TheMissus and I both went on to become teachers before the end of the year, which was exciting.)  I also remember a lot of driving.  I drove to LA almost every week.  I miss seeing Emmy and Bikram and my LA friends, but I don't miss all that driving!

I think those months were all about anticipation.  I wrote myself a note at one point that said "savor the anticipation," and I think I did a good job of that, but I got impatient towards the end!

April - June:  Teacher training.

I may as well have been in an alternate universe for those months.  The yoga bubble barely ever made contact with the real world.  I didn't even know that the "oil spill" wasn't really just a "spill" until it had already been gushing for weeks and weeks.  I had seen references to the spill on the headlines of USA Today when I was walking back and forth from the ice machine in the morning, but I had no idea what was going on until I finally googled "oil spill" over the weekend.  "Holy shit!!"

Teacher training was pure wish fulfillment.  It wasn't perfect by any means, but I got tons out of it.  In the end, I got everything that I had wanted and more.  Most importantly, I got the certificate!  And then I got the heck out of Dodge.

July:  Back to the real world: do they have a support group for this?!

Oh my goodness.  I dove into teaching full-time right away, and that was great, because the yoga room was the only place where I felt normal after training!

Teachers always laugh about this because we've all been through it, but seriously, that reintegration period is wild!  I just remember that I had no idea how to live without a rigid schedule anymore.  You mean, I can cook in a real kitchen?  I can go to the grocery store any time??  It was too weird.  I couldn't remember what I used to eat, or when I used to do laundry.  I barely remember how to drive my car!  You know all those stories about people who finally get released from prison after years and years, and then they end up committing petty crimes just so that they can go back to prison because they can't handle life "outside"?  It's kind of like that for a couple weeks.  Part of you wants so badly to go back.

But you move on...

August:  On the road again!

Cleaned out the beautiful house in Santa Barbara (which I still kinda miss) and hit the road with my sister for an epic cross-country road trip.  If I had to write a "short list of reasons to live," the National Parks would be pretty high on that list.

After driving across the country and up and down the east coast, I settled down in the city where I'm living now and got down to business, just teaching, teaching, and teaching.  The interesting part about moving to a new part of the country?  Nobody there had ever known me before I was a yoga teacher!  I didn't meet them as a yoga student or a grad student or a dancer or a waitress or anything else.  I really did just walk in there every day and say "Hi, I'm Juliana, I'm your yoga teacher," and that was my introduction to a whole new community of people.  And oh my gosh, I was a baby yoga teacher.  Ok, I'm still a baby now, but I was a really new baby then, only a couple months old!  But I didn't tell anybody that (unless they asked).  I just taught.

That seemed to work out pretty well.

September - December:  New equilibrium?

Here's the interesting question.  After all your dreams come true.... what do you do next?

As it turns out, life just kind of goes on.  The incredible, life-changing new job is still sometimes just a job.  There's laundry to be washed, groceries to be bought, dinner to be made.  Still have to take out the trash and buy toilet paper.  Still practicing yoga all the time.  Still teaching.  Still learning.

Back when I was in training (more than six months ago, now!) I always thought "oh, it'll come with experience" was kind of a bullshit answer.  I had all these questions about teaching class, because there were so many important things - how to correct, when to correct, how to know how much an individual can do - that we didn't really go over very much.  They just told us that once we got used to teaching, we'd figure that stuff out.  I didn't find this very satisfying.  I didn't want to just "learn by experience," dammit, I wanted someone to teach me!

Well, here I am, learning by experience.  And I am absolutely eating my words, 100%, because learning by experience really works.  I still seek out feedback sometimes, and good feedback is still really helpful, but I also just... well... figure it out!  Because I can tell when things are working well, and I can tell when they're slightly off.  For example, if I give someone a correction and she responds by sitting out the next set of the posture, I learn, "Okay, that wasn't the right moment for her, she was already doing the best that she could."  Or if I give a new student some encouragement during her first class, and then she comes back again and again and again, and she thanks me for being her first teacher, then I learn, "Okay, that worked!"  (Honestly, the yoga itself does most of the work with the new folks; my job is just to pass along information and not scare anybody.)

Speaking of experience, I've taught somewhere in the ballpark of 230 yoga classes this year, at 13 different yoga studios.  Not bad!

I'm finding my place in my new community, and it feels good.  And it's such a joy to finally be a real part of the big yoga teacher family!  I spent so many years trying to get somewhere.  Now I'm there.  Wow.

My plans for tonight?  Teaching yoga, of course.  10:30pm to midnight.  I'm pretty excited.

Happy New Year, everybody!

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