teacher training

En Route to India (Again)

Nagalinga Flowers.jpg

Today I’m traveling to India for the second session of the 500 hour teacher training program at the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram. It was a teary scene at 5:00 this morning when I climbed into the Uber in the pouring rain, leaving behind my kids and husband. Luckily my driver was really chatty and told me stories about her children, providing just the distraction I needed. As I write this, I’m sitting in the San Francisco airport waiting for my connecting flight to Singapore. 

The past several months have been kind of rough for me. As I’ve probably mentioned, this summer my family moved across town to a new house *and* I unexpectedly had to manage the renovation of our rental house after our tenants moved out.

But now that I look back, those weren’t the real challenges I faced.

I learned two important and life changing lessons at the first teacher training session back in January. As we all know, change is hard. And implementing these two lessons has turned my life upside down.

The first lesson I learned is that we humans need routine in order to be healthy. And being a mom to two young boys and also a small business owner, my schedule the past few years has been anything but routine.

The kids’ activities were randomly scheduled throughout the week. We ate dinner at whatever time my husband or I could pick up takeout. Or we ate at a restaurant. We tried to do a little homework every evening, but honestly, more often than not we crammed to finish it on the weekends. The kids’ target bedtime was 8:30, but sometimes they actually went to bed at 9:00, 9:30, or even 10:00. Which meant that I was going to bed at midnight most of the time.

On top of this, my own work schedule was very inconsistent. Over the past several years, I added classes to my teaching schedule whenever an opportunity presented itself. Because of this, I was teaching an oddball combination of Monday/Thursday mornings, Wednesday/Friday mornings, Saturdaymornings, and Thursday evenings. No consistency at all. My work schedule was similarly inconsistent; I’d work whenever I had a couple of free hours.

The second lesson I learned is about dharma, our life’s purpose. Indian philosophy teaches about the 4 stages of life: childhood/student, householder/parent, retired, and preparing for the end of life. I’m currently in the householder/parent stage, so I should theoretically be prioritizing the responsibilities specific to this stage of life.

My mentor at KYM explained to me that if we don’t take care of our dharma-related responsibilities, the lessons keep resurfacing until we do. And this absolutely makes sense to me. For example, if I don’t take the time now to make sure my children learn independence, study skills, hygiene, self-care, etc., we’ll all be struggling and suffering until they finally learn. It makes sense to invest the time now so that we can all be happier in the long run.

Trying to incorporate these two important lessons has created a time of chaos for me. Over the past several months, I’ve been working on creating a consistent routine not just for me, but also for my kids, and also for my husband to a smaller extent. And I’ve also been working on shifting my focus from teaching and running the studio toward more actively parenting my kids.

This shift has not been easy, and it’s still not easy, but I am slowly starting to see hints of change in my kids and in our relationships. They listen a little better, they’re more capable of doing their homework and violin practice independently, they know their morning and evening routines and I don’t have to repeat instructions 20 times anymore. This part is getting better.

Creating a routine for myself has also gotten better - I’ve gradually shifted my teaching schedule and now I teach MWF at 8:30 a.m. at the studio, TT at 9:00 a.m. at RRISD, and Saturday morning at the studio, which has created more consistent work hours and freed me up to parent in the evenings.

But the part I haven’t quite figured out yet is how to balance it all. Yes, I now prioritize parenting my kids. Yes, I’ve created consistency of schedule. But the problem is that my consistent schedule starts at 6:30in the morning and doesn’t end until 10:00 at night. And even with the help of my awesome management team, teaching staff, and reception staff, some of my responsibilities still fall through the cracks. For example, this newsletter. I haven’t sent out this “weekly” newsletter in probably a couple of months. And in light of all the change happening in other areas of my life, I’m ok with that, for now.

I’m really looking forward to this second session of training. Not only will I have a break from my regular routine (which always helps me gain some perspective), I’ll learn more anatomy, chanting, āsana, and philosophy (my favorite!), and I’ll also get some face-to-face time with my wise mentor. And all the while I’ll be looking out for new lessons to help me balance the sthira (effort) and sukha (ease) in my life.

Throughout October I’ll be posting/sharing a video diary about my experience in India on our social media pages:

And speaking of, please let me take a minute to explain where these new brands came from and what content we’re sharing where.

The Yoga Room’s pages feature content related to our brick and mortar studio location in Round Rock, like in-person workshops, classes, etc.

The EveryBody Yoga Podcast and its social media pages are how we share yoga with a broader, worldwide community.

And Professional Yoga Teachers Podcast and its social media pages are how we share our teaching with like-minded yoga teachers and people interested in becoming yoga teachers.

We welcome you to follow us on any of those pages that are interesting to you and to share our pages with your friends!

Looking forward to connecting with you soon,

Beginning Again

Have I told you that I started taking guitar lessons a few months ago? I get a little chuckle every week when I show up to my lesson and I’m sitting in the waiting room with all the other moms… who are waiting with their children. I seem to be the only adult taking beginner lessons, at least on Thursdays at 5:00 p.m., and really, I think that’s kind of cool. I got the idea to take guitar lessons when I was wrapping up my #handstand365 challenge earlier this year. Learning something so seemingly frivolous as standing on my hands (at the age of 39!) allowed me a beautiful opportunity to learn a lot about myself because there were absolutely no expectations. Every day I just showed up to my mat (or wherever) and tried.

And so when #handstand365 was done, I yearned to be a beginner at something, again. I debated whether to begin guitar or skateboard lessons. Guitar won, so maybe I'll learn to skateboard next year.

In today's newsletter I want to tell you about some other new beginners who have recently touched my heart.

Right now we’re in the middle of our January 2015 Teacher Training Program. After sitting through over a hundred hours of lecture and practicum in the classroom setting, our Teacher Trainees are required to Observe and Assist one of the lead faculty members in their classes, and they’re also required to teach a free Community Class under the supervision of a lead faculty member.

Jan teaching

That means that over the past several weeks I’ve had the opportunity to work one-on-one with the Trainees as they Observe and Assist my classes and as I observe and support their teaching in the Community Classes.

And I must say, I am so honored and humbled to be working with this outstanding group of Teacher Trainees. They are a brave and intelligent group of women. They hail from different countries. They have or have had diverse and successful careers. They are raising or have raised families. They’ve had vast life experiences. And now they’ve chosen to become beginners again.

They’re learning to become yoga teachers not because they want to learn how to put their feet behind their heads, but because through their personal yoga practices they each have experienced a unique and profound set of benefits, and they want to know how to share yoga, how to share the benefits of yoga. And not only do they want to share the benefits of yoga, they want to know how to share the benefits of yoga with anybody and everybody who is interested.

When this accomplished group of women graduates as yoga teachers, they’ll be sharing yoga with their parents and with their children, with their personal training clients, with their therapeutic massage clients, with their Oncology patients, in a CrossFit gym, with children in schools, with the elderly in senior centers, with their friends, and possibly even at The Yoga Room, if they’re interested.

And every single one of them will be sharing the deeper knowledge of yoga they gained in teacher training with themselves, to continue to deepen their own personal practice.

I’m thrilled every time one of the Teacher Trainees comes to observe one of my classes. I watch them to see what they’re seeing. I notice when they come across an interesting detail and jot an idea in their notebook. I pull them in to show them how to modify a posture or how to assist a someone in a pose.

And I love, love, love it when they have questions or share observations with me after the class. Their questions and observations allow me to see their unique perspective. It shows me that they’re not just memorizing the information we teach - they’re synthesizing it and making it their own, which is what will make them outstanding teachers.

I’m so honored that they’ve chosen to be beginners again, with us.

Have you ever wanted to be a beginner again? What's the last new thing you tried? What's the next thing you desire to learn? Want my vote? Go for it! Being a beginner rocks!

XO, Zelinda