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

Your Teacher is Going on Vacation. Don't Panic!

I know it can be really disappointing when your regular yoga teacher is absent from her class. Maybe she had a last minute emergency, or maybe it was a long-planned vacation. It’s important to acknowledge when this feeling comes up. The feeling is perfectly normal, and it's also a great opportunity for yogic inquiry and personal growth.

There are typically two ways that you end up with a sub teacher. Either you know in advance that your teacher is going to be away, or you walk into class expecting to see your teacher and are surprised to find another teacher at the front of the room.

If you know in advance that your favorite teacher is going to be away, you may be tempted to skip class, or you may decide to attend anyway but feel wary of the sub.

If you walk into class expecting to see your regular teacher and find someone else at the front of the room, you might feel a pang of stress or uncertainty, or you might even be tempted to turn around and walk out.

First, it’s important to recognize that it’s normal to feel unsettled when something is new, different, or unexpected.

Recognizing your situation is part of the yogic practice called svadhyaya, which means self-study in Sanskrit. Svadhyaya is one of my personal favorites because it provides unlimited potential for personal growth.

Once you recognize your situation, you can move forward to practice another yogic concept: equanimity.

Equanimity is practicing and learning to be comfortable and peaceful, even in unknown, uncertain, or uncomfortable situations.

On the yoga mat, for example, we practice equanimity when we try to remain peaceful in a pose doesn’t work for our body. We have options: we can modify the pose, we can take a break, or we can do a different pose. The real trick is to figure out how to be ok with doing some different than or even “less than” what is expected.

So then, in the example of when your regular yoga teacher is absent, how can you practice equanimity?

First, recognize that it can be challenging for both the students and the sub because each doesn’t know what to expect from the other.

Naturally, your substitute teacher's style will be different than that of your regular teacher. It’s a perfect opportunity to practice being peaceful and ok in an uncertain situation. Know that the teacher may use different language or may lead you into poses in a different way, but it doesn’t mean their teaching is better than or worse than, it’s just a different.

There is always something to learn from a new teacher, even if it's not what you were expecting to learn. The challenge is to be open to whatever it is the teacher offers.

Maybe you’ll learn how to get into a pose that was previously inaccessible to you, maybe you’ll learn a new variation or modification of one of your favorite poses, maybe you’ll learn a new subtlety about breathing, or maybe you’ll learn that there’s challenge and benefit in learning how to practice more slowly. The potential learnings are truly infinite.

So I encourage you, the next time your regular teacher has to miss a class, be open what you can learn from the sub. You might just learn something special that shifts your awareness or transforms your practice.

XO, Zelinda