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I haven’t posted in a while because I’ve been sort of burnt out.  I’m teaching three yoga classes a week, which is awesome, but there for a while, I was a little yoga’d out.  If I saw one more cheerful Kathryn Budig post on my newsfeed, I was going to barf. If I read one more kitchy list or crunchy essay on Doyouyoga or Yogananmous, I was going to sell my yoga mat and sign up for CrossFit. (Just kidding.  The CrossFit-ters would sniff out my Type B personality in seconds and put me in a protein shake.)

So. I’ve been sort of lying low. Keeping my social media consumption to a minimum. Reading a lot of non-yoga related books. Back at the gym, I’m running more, and even lifting weights. I had to diversify there for a minute.

 I’ve streamlined my classes so the “three classes a week” is not so overwhelming. Since my students range so widely (from the “I have an unlimited pass at the local studio” to “this is my first yoga class”, plus an array of injuries and levels of interest), I was trying to tailor each class to each group. THAT WAS FRIGGIN’ EXHAUSTING! Finally, I gave up and decided upon a MUCH simpler approach: Each week, I pick a theme.  Last week was backbends. This week is hip openers.  I write a skeleton of a class, and then tailor the class to the group. As it’s happening!! (That last part is really sort of scary for me!)

This is taking a LOT of improvisation. Many moons ago, when I studied acting, I loved improv. I wasn’t particularly good at it (read: I wasn’t all that funny), but I wasn’t the person who got tagged in and the rest of the class silently thought, “Oh, God no.” 

When I first started teaching yoga, improv was definitely one of my weaknesses. I wrote a class; I taught that class. I didn’t have enough experience, or confidence, to stray far from my trusty page. Not surprisingly, when I first started, some of my classes were total flops. I would see that some of the students weren’t able to keep pace, and I just panicked. I offered modifications, or props, or adjustments. Going completely off script was simply too terrifying to even contemplate.

Over time, and with experience, I’ve been able to – HAD to, at times – more or less scrap the class I walked in with and, instead, teach a class that my students needed. This little exercise, the themed week of classes, has really strengthened my teaching skills. It takes some time, as you’ve got to develop a well of alternative routes (as well as transitions! That can be a real bitch on the fly!), but it can be done.

As scary as it can be, I’d suggest that new teachers (who share my fear of having NO PLAN) try the skeleton approach. Workshop several different ways the class can go. Be ready to break it down – waaaaay down – or help students into wheel or headstand if that’s the direction the class takes and that is what your students NEED.

Be prepared to be scared as shit. And fumble a little. And screw up some cues. And maybe have a real stinker of a class now and then (if you learn from it, it’s not a total waste). Try to stay receptive and aware, and one of these days, you’re gonna surprise the hell out of yourself. 

Alright, Kathryn Budig and Kino MacGregor, I “unhide” you. I’m coming out of yoga hibernation. (Hally Marlino, you and your beer and cheese and balls-to-the-wall yoga, you were never gone!) 

Inspirational image! Imagine a gong or some chanting or something to go with it!

The word “yogi”, that is. By no means am I actually a yogi. I can imagine my Indian teachers shaking their heads at the silly American throwing that word around willy-nilly. What I actually mean is closer to “The Skeptical Sadhak”, but it doesn’t have quite the same ring to it. Even “sadhak”, or spiritual seeker, would be a bit of a stretch. To trot out an old cliche, I think the best place to start is in the beginning:

I just spent two months in India studying yoga. I fulfilled a 15 year old dream of getting my 200 hour yoga teacher training certificate and am now ready to unleash myself upon the unsupecting denizens of the NYC yoga scene (if there is, in fact, a yoga “scene” – although, in NYC there are “scenes” for everyone from drag queens to young Republicans, so it’s a safe bet). I’m not really much of a “scene” kind of person, so this will be a bit of an adventure for me.

The purpose of this blog is to have a forum to explore the things that interest me, and share my findings with other people. In India, I learned a lot about holistic living that intrigued me. I also learned a lot about chakras, which I’m not convinced actually exist. I learned about ayuruvedic medicine, which fed into my slight obsession with natural beauty products. I also learned about yogis who can (allegedly!!) make their hearts stop through meditation.

I walked away from India with more questions than answers, and it’s my hope to get to the bottom of some of these, and to share what I learn on this site. I’m eager to get back to Brooklyn and get started! As my interests are quite broad (anything in the “natural health and fitness” category), and my appetite for new experiences never seems to be satisfied, this should be quite an interesting ride.

In the next few weeks, I’ll be joining my friend’s hoola hooping club (it’s for adults and I’m 99% sure there’s nothing pervy about it), looking for yoga teaching jobs, and conducting some mad scientist beauty experiments from my Brooklyn laboratory (read: home). And I’ll be posting about everything, so check back from time to time!

For now, namaste, y’all! I’m headed home!

-SY

12.7.12 Helsinki, Finland