I screwed up. I'm sorry.

In one of my classes last week we had really big turnout. Twenty-one people attended the class, which is about double the average size of our classes. It was a very special class - everyone was very present. We did a slow, mindful practice, and when we got to savasana everyone looked so peaceful and relaxed. I got caught up in the beauty of the moment, and I snapped a photo. Then I posted it on social media later in the day.

And then yesterday I received an email from someone who disagreed with the taking and posting of the photo. She spoke about how the role of the yoga teacher is to create a safe space for the practitioners and that by taking and posting the photo I had breached that student-teacher trust.

Initially, I tried to justify myself.

… I was trying to show that yoga is accessible. So many people see images of yoga in the media and immediately think that yoga cannot possibly be for them. This image is a good example of Yoga for EveryBody. Plus, the faces were not identifiable so I felt that people's privacy was adequately protected.

But after further reflection, I realized the writer was 100% right, and I was wrong.

I got caught up in sharing a beautiful image and spreading the message of Yoga for Everybody, and I forgot about ethics. Which is an especially regrettable mistake, because ethics are extremely important to me. I actually teach the course on Ethics in our Teacher Training program.

I sent the writer a response and conveyed my deepest apologies, but I have been feeling really down about this. I’m embarrassed about my lapse in judgement. I’m horrified at having breached my students’ trust. Needless to say, I took the photo down, and I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting about the whole situation.

You might know that self-study (the yogic practice of svadhyaya) is an important practice in my life. There’s been a whole lot of self-study going on, ranging from Why exactly do I feel so bad about this? to What can I do to try to rectify the situation? to What can I do to feel like myself again? Because really, in simple terms, the show must go on.

I may have screwed up, and I may feel terrible about it, but I can’t let it be incapacitating. I still need to be a good mom, I still need to teach classes, I still need to run the studio. I need to learn the lessons and move forward.

Screwed upSo I turned to self-care. I took a lavender-infused Epsom salt bath and made sure to get enough sleep. I meditated. I took a nap. I talked through the situation with a trusted friend. And I came to realize, just like I taught in Teacher Training last weekend, that it comes down to intention. My intention was good, but my execution was bad.

I didn’t think through the situation completely, and I made a mistake. My lesson learned for next time is to be more careful. Ask permission before taking or sharing someone’s photo (I usually do!). Manage my energy (brahmacharya) so that I don’t get overexcited and make an impulsive bad decision.

And next time I make a big mistake (because I’m a human, and I will inevitably make another big mistake) try to not beat myself up too much. These things happen. Life is busy, we’re typically going 100 mph doing 7 things at once, and at that pace, once in a while we’re going to screw up.

So, whether you were in my class that day, or whether you saw the image on social media and felt it should not have been posted, please accept my most sincere apologies. I’m very, very sorry I breached your trust. I've learned a difficult lesson. I’m ready to move forward, and I hope you’re ready to move forward with me.


Zelinda Pro 2013 Red Top smallXO, Zelinda

Find Your Ease

I think (I hope!) I’ve just gotten through a pretty stressful patch. It began over the summer. My husband traveled out of the country for a week and a half, then we went on vacation, then we had houseguests, then my husband traveled out of the country again for another week and a half, then we had houseguests again, then my younger son started kindergarten, then he transferred schools, then he had a fever followed by an ear infection that made him stay home from school for a week, and then he got an ear infection in the other ear. And of course at the same time I was doing all my usual mom stuff, plus family stuff, plus trying to teach yoga and run the studio at the same time.

Does this sound like your life too? Sometimes it’s so difficult being an adult.

What I learned from this prolonged ordeal is that during times of stress, we either break down or we toughen up. Toughening up is positive in the sense that it helps you get things done. But in this case I realized that toughening up over and over and over is not necessarily healthy.

If we look at it from a science perspective, during times of stress our bodies produce adrenaline. Adrenaline is the hormone that triggers the fight or flight response, which is meant to help us in a true emergency situation, not for day to day functioning.

If we look at it from a practical perspective, well, if we look at it from my own experience over the past few months, what I realized is that as I toughened up over and over, I stopped feeling my body and my feelings. Without realizing it, I became hardened.

I was overly focused and determined to get everything done, on being everything to everybody, to the point where I was not aware of my own body and my own needs. This is a pretty big deal, and actually kind of embarrassing, for a yoga teacher, who should know better, to lose sense of her own body.Z bound angle

I realized all of this one day in early September when I finally made time for a yoga class. At the beginning of class the teacher asked how I was feeling, and I said I was fine. I really believed I was fine.

Then the practice started and I began to breathe and move, and that’s when I realized I wasn’t fine. Every movement hurt. Every pose was difficult. At one point, in child’s pose, tears rolled down my face and onto my mat. It was just all the built up stress coming out, it was my tough self realizing I needed to soften.

It was a sign that I needed to make a change, which I’ve since been trying to do. I’m trying to figure out how to do less. I might be an expert at finding ease in my practice, but apparently I need to work on finding some ease in my life.

And of course, it’s hard work. It’s hard to find ease when you’re a working mom, or when you’re a caretaker, or when you’re a single parent, or when you’re focused on doing a good job at whatever you’ve got going on in your life. No matter the circumstance, we all sometimes have trouble slowing down and taking care of ourselves.

But geez, it’s important. We only get one body in this life and we have to take care of it. We have to get good sleep, we have to eat well, we have to drink water, and brush our teeth, and get checkups, and manage our stress. Because we just have the one body to help us carry out our life’s work, and the body needs to last. And of course it’s a bonus if the body lasts a long time and doesn’t give you too much trouble along the way, right?

Do you see yourself in my story of busy-ness? Are you in a pattern of toughening up over and over? Are you taking good enough care of you?

Take some time to pay attention to how you’re feeling and make a conscious decision about what to do next. It doesn’t have to be a grand and complicated change (that will only end up causing you stress). Just a little bit of something to put you on a healthier path. Baby steps. One step at a time.

I’d love to hear from you on this. What’s the one little thing you’re going to do to find some ease in your life?

Zelinda Pro 2013 Red Top small

XO, Zelinda


P.S. I joined the 40 Day Challenge to help hold myself accountable to my self-care. It’s not too late to join! Here’s a link to the details. Let me know if you want in.