Saturday, December 31, 2011

Turning of the Season

"Here we come to a turning of the season
Witness to the arc towards the sun."
- The Decemberists 

Happy New Year, all!  I imagine that some of you have already crossed the line into 2012.  I've still got a few more hours left to 2011.  I'm heading out pretty soon to take the 10:30pm yoga class - finishing at midnight, of course! - but right now I'm happily relaxing at home with a cup of tea and some good music.  (The lines that I put up at the top of this post are the first lines of one of my favorite albums this year.)  Just enough time for a blog update!

Compared to 2010, this past year was significantly less dramatic.  2010 was all about change, change, change - finishing/quitting grad school, getting to teacher training, finishing teacher training, moving cross country (again), and starting my new life as a yoga teacher.

This year, I've just kept on that trajectory.  If 2010 was a year for change, then 2011 was a year for expansion.  It's been a full year of full-time yoga, and it's been fantastic.  All together, I must have spent at least 2 months out of the year travelling - weeks of guest teaching in Kentucky, Virginia, Alabama, and Rhode Island, plus a really solid visit to teacher training in Los Angeles, plus the wonderful craziness of Bonnaroo Music Festival (which was definitely a highlight).  In between trips, I have been firmly planted in Baltimore (up until recently), just teaching and teaching and doing my thing, trying to learn new things and get better at my craft.  I made some wonderful friendships, all over the place but especially in Baltimore, that are sure to last for a very long time.  A good year!

There have been some ups and downs, some personal frustrations, but overall it's really been fun.

I think Abraham is totally onto something: "The basis of your life is freedom; the purpose of your life is joy."

(Tangent: Heard of Abraham?  Here's the best summary.  It is woo-woo as all hell and I'm not sure if I believe half of it, but my god, most of the stuff that comes out of Esther Hick's mouth is just spot on.  I get such a kick out of it.)

I know I haven't updated since my move to Rhode Island.  If I had to summarize my feelings about my new job/location in two words, they would be: "fucking fantastic."  It's great being close to home and close to Boston again.  I've seen lots of my Massachusetts yoga family this month, and I hope to see even more Boston people next year!  The West Roxbury advanced class Tuesday is back on my permanent schedule, which makes me so happy.  (My schedule requests to my new boss Molly were as follows: I need Mondays off completely, Tuesday mornings off for advanced class, and Thursday nights off for swing dance class.)  The studio has a permanent staff of four teacher right now (plus a rotating cast of visitors), and three of us are all around the same age and experience level, so we are getting along great.  It's like having siblings - we do fun things together like going out to dinner, seeing movies at the mall, and baking a tray full of brownies in the shape of Santa hats for the annual Solstice party.  Attendance at the studio has been booming this month, and we all anticipate that January will be even crazier - people around here just can't get enough of the yoga!

So onwards we go into 2012.  And if I had to take a guess, I think this year will be more about home.  After all the adventuring that I've done in this last year, I really like where I've landed at the end of all of it, and I'd like to stay here for a while.  I'm making plans to do crazy things such as leasing my own apartment, one bedroom thank you very much, and buying furniture - my own TV set, my own couch!  I know, craziness.  I also have plans to make friendships outside of the yoga studio (see for example Thursday nights) and explore all the lovely restaurants that Providence has to offer.  I also have a fantasy about rescuing a puppy, but we'll have to see about that one.  I seem to have committed to some hang-gliding plans for the summer, so that should be exciting.  And yes, I will keep this blog alive!

Best wishes to all for a fun and/or sweaty New Year's Eve and a very happy New Year!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Disperse and Come Back

The last time I wrote, I was enjoying the scene and sights in Mobile, Alabama.  Since then, I feel like I've spent every week unpacking and repacking my bags.  I extended my stay in Mobile when another teacher fell sick and got back to Baltimore just in time for a weekend house-sitting gig.  Once that finished, I had to immediately pack up all the things in my apartment to make space for my friend Lauren's return.  (I had been subleasing from her while she was at teacher training.)  Now Lauren and I are sharing her apartment temporarily, although I've only been here for half the time, because I went home to Massachusetts for Thanksgiving just a few days after she got back to Baltimore.  

And the big news - might as well say it here at the beginning of the post - is that I'm only going to be in Baltimore for six more days.  I'm teaching my last class here (for now) on Saturday morning, then I'm driving up to Philadelphia to spend the weekend with a friend from California, and then on Monday I am driving to my new home in Providence, Rhode Island!  And yes, of course I will still be teaching yoga.  I'll be at Ocean State Bikram Yoga in Pawtucket, just outside Providence.  It's a beautiful new studio that just opened in last summer.  I visited as a guest teacher last August and had a great time, and they've been saving a spot for me there ever since Labor Day.  

This week is bittersweet.  I feel sad about leaving all my great friends and students in Baltimore, but I'm absolutely thrilled to move back up to New England.  I grew up in western Massachusetts, I went to college in Cambridge, and I got started on my yoga path in Boston.  (Providence is only about an hour from Boston.)  By the time I left Boston in 2008, I already knew that I was going to be a Bikram yoga teacher (eventually, in the future).  So I have a lot of ties to that area, and it will be amazing to live up there again and be closer to both my families - my parents and my yoga family.

I was living in my first apartment in south Boston - okay, technically Dorchester - when I started thinking like a yoga teacher.  I started thinking about the dialogue and the teaching and the students, and I started dreaming about the view from the other side of the podium.  I had wonderful supportive teachers at the downtown Boston studio, especially Jill, Brad, and Tomo, and I also started venturing out to the West Roxbury studio where I met Diane, Teri, and so many of the other people who have become my friends and mentors.  The teachers let me tag along with them to lunch every week, and I picked up some priceless information at the lunch table over pickles and pizza.  I've visited that block on Centre Street almost every time I've gone back to Boston over the past three-and-a-half years, and it's always been a home to me.  So yes, I'm happy about this move - I feel like after all these years of wandering and exploring and growing, I finally can go back and be home.  At least for a while, until my feet get itchy again!

Meanwhile, the past couple of weeks have been amazing.  The best part has been taking class with Lauren.  I've probably mentioned her here before.  (Let's be honest, I'll talk about her to anyone who stands still for more than a minute.)  She was a beginning student of mine just one year ago.  She came in with a Groupon and came just a couple times a week.  Then I tricked her into signing up for the 60-day challenge, and the next thing I knew, she had turned into a serious, kick-ass yogi!  She's lost over 100 pounds with the help of the yoga - it changed her life completely.  In June, she decided to become a teacher, and I helped her study dialogue by the pool all summer.  This fall, she rocked out teacher training.  (Bikram loved her and her amazing backbend.)  And on November 23rd, she taught her first class!

At teacher training, people always talk about how you "close the circle" when you teach your first class.  Well let me tell you - there's a whole other circle that closes when you first take class from somebody who used to be your student!  She's taught 6 classes now, I've taken 3 of them, and each one has been better than the last one.  I don't think I've ever been so proud of somebody other than myself!  This may be how parents feel.  My first yoga baby....

I'm sharing Lauren's apartment right now, so we've been seeing each other constantly.  This means I have been hearing all about her teacher training withdrawls!  She misses her TT friends so much.  I remember what that felt like.  All day long I hear, "oh, Tereza commented on my Facebook photo".... "oh, I got a message from Mithu".... "oh, Yael taught 2 classes today".... It is heartbreaking!

But I keep trying to tell her (and she probably doesn't believe it yet, but eventually she'll find out on her own) - she hasn't really lost any of these people.  They are still there, and she will see them again.

This is what we do, as Bikram teacher.  This is how we are.  At teacher training, you learn to live in this giant yoga bubble.  You're always surrounded by other yogi, trainees and teachers, from all around the world.  And after 9 weeks, you disperse.  Everybody catches an airplane, and the group spreads out to all the corners of the world.  And it's very sad, when that bubble pops.  You feel like you'll never see those friends again.

And then... you see them again. All of our paths criss-cross across the globe. At one time or another, all those connections come back.  When I went to Kentucky last summer, I ran into Mike from Malaysia, who now lives in New York.  The last time I was in Boston, I saw Ben from Australia in a yoga class.  Every time I got back to visit training, I reconnect with other people who I've known - half the staff of this last TT were from my training!  Every time I go to a seminar or a master class, I see familiar faces.  I have friends and teachers who I only get to see once a year, but I always know where to find them and I know that their doors are always open to me. My friend Teri's rule is, don't even ring the doorbell, just let yourself in. The last time I went to her house, I punched in the door code and harassed her cat until she came back from grocery shopping. It's a family.  

This weekend, I went down to D.C. for a couple days of yoga with the international champions, Joseph and Yukari.  This was the first time I've met Yukari, but I've known Joseph for years.  The funny thing is, I can't remember how I met him.  I've seen him at seminar and trainings, and I've seen him compete many times, and at some point I guess I introduced myself or someone introduced me.  So now whenever I run into him, once or twice a year, we say "hey!!" and "how are you?!" and have a nice hug.  Yoga family!

Lauren came down with me for the advanced class on Sunday, and she couldn't believe that Joseph and Yukari were here in D.C., because she had just met them a couple of weeks ago in LA. All day it was, "I can't believe you're here!"  The class was at the Tenleytown studio, where neither of us had ever been, but of course we knew a couple of the teachers there.  I knew the owner from a seminar, Lauren knew her son from a posture clinic, and I knew one of the other teachers (Yasmin) from our mutual friend Charlie Hubbard.  I even ran into a student who reads my blog - Hilary Glassman, here is your shout-out!

Lauren and I had a couple of great classes - the champs absolutely killed us or maybe we just killed ourselves.  They were so gracious and helpful, with lots of tips and encouragement for everybody.  Lauren was amazed at how much attention they gave us, how generous they were with their time and energy.  

And I just keep telling her - yes.  This is how we are.  This is our family.  Your family, too, now - welcome to the family.  Do you understand yet?  Can you believe it?  I know, it takes some time to sink it.  It seems too good to be true.  But this is who we are, and this is what we do.  Share, teach, grow.  We disperse for months and then come back together.  You'll see your friends again - and the people who pissed you off, too, you'll probably see them again, and sometimes you'll even see them in a better light the second time around.

The next time I write, I'll probably have left Baltimore already.  But Baltimore's been my home for the last year and a half, and now it will always be a home for me.  I know which doors to knock on, and believe me, I'll be back.  I just need to go back to New England now and have some time with another part of my family.  I'm going to meet more students, more teachers, and let my family grow even bigger.

In yoga, you never lose - you only gain.

More later, from the other side of the move!