Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The hazards of working from home

Since it's the holidays and my last post was a bit of a downer, I thought it would be nice to share from my collection of funny stories that have happened over the years because I work from home. After all who couldn't use some humor during one of the most stressful times of the year?

Having my studio in my basement has it's advantages but it also has some amusing drawbacks, usually in the form of my cats or my husband. Yes, this is their house too but that doesn't mean they always understand that it's also my office. Try explaining to a cat that you are "working down here" and the only response you'll get is a louder cry. This is what happens when one of my cats wants out during class, and usually during Savasana.

This isn't the worst of it I'm afraid. When we still had Hunter, the world's friendliest cat, he would often saunter down the stairs, crawl into someone's unwitting lap and make himself comfortable. Or curl-up next to a student laying in a spinal-twist. It got so bad that I had to put up a child-gate to try and keep him out. Unfortunately, he quickly figured out how to get his not-too-slender body underneath the gate and come down anyway. He also enjoyed jumping up on the massage table when I had a client. I used to joke that I was going to charge extra for cat therapy.

Hunter's replacement, Abbott, is much more polite and shy. However, he and his sister Diamond, got into a terrible scuffle once while I had a client on the massage table. We heard the ruckus upstairs, shortly before it moved downstairs under the table. Both cats were screaming and the fur was flying. I have never been so mortified in my life! Fortunately it was a regular client who was very understanding despite nearly jumping off the table. Not exactly a relaxing massage for her that day.

My husband is a little better trained than the cats. He knows not to talk on the phone during class since he has a voice that I'm sure even the neighbors can hear. He also knows not to enter though the garage during class times or appointments. However, he does occasionally venture downstairs during class, again usually during Savasana to get a snack. One particular time, I was talking a class through a visualization that involved the woods. After class a woman said to me, "I felt like I was really there until Bigfoot started stomping through the woods."

Speaking of snacks, food smells are another consideration, especially since I offer a prenatal yoga class. For awhile my husband loved to come home and cook eggs for dinner right before class. Eggs of course have a terrible after smell even to those not pregnant. I finally got him to lay off when I explained that he would have to clean up after anyone he made sick because of it. Now, we just get treated to microwave popcorn or burritos occasionally but never during the prenatal class.

On the weirder side, I once had a mystery person enter my house at the end of class. At the time I assumed it was the ride of one of my students who had been told it's OK just to walk-in. I motioned to the person who I couldn't quite see because of the darkness to wait for a moment until class was finished. The person then left. As I wrapped up class, I asked if anyone was expecting a ride. They shook their heads and said they all thought it was my husband coming home. Since my husband was already home that made me a bit concerned. I asked him to take a quick look around outside to make sure all was well. Whoever it was had vanished.
Later, I learned that it was a student who had shown up at the wrong time and was a bit embarrassed so she just left.
With the exception of keeping the house constantly clean, or at least the first two floors of it, and being conscious of food smells, working at home really has more advantages than drawbacks. People remark that they couldn't stand to have others in their space and that they would never really feel like they were away from work. Since I don't use the studio for anything but massage and yoga, I don't really feel that people are in my space. I could say something very yogic like my space is inside of me not where I live but I don't want sound like a bumper sticker. The reality is I've just never thought of my house as a boundary but something to share.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

6 things that sadden me as a teacher

At the risk of sounding depressed and down I thought I'd share a few things I've heard repeatedly that really make me sad as a yoga teacher.

In reality, I've been pretty happy about my classes and students lately. A recent rice-bag making party gave me an opportunity spend time outside of class with some of my students. It filled me with joy that my students would come together and cooperate to make some much longed-for props for the studio. And have a blast in the process.

I've also loved watching the community that has developed out of the studio lately. Several students have reached out to embrace a new student who recently moved to the area. They've taken the time to familiarize her with the area and offer her their friendship.

These examples of kindness warm my heart but that doesn't mean that there aren't still things I wish I could do more to change.

Experience has taught me that sometimes I need to gently nudge my students when they tend to slip into one of these six traps as I like to think of them. Unfortunately, many of the people I've seen falling into these traps aren't my students in which case I don't have a right to nudge at all. It's then that I take a deep breath and blog my frustrations in hope that they might reach the eyes and ears of those folks I wish I could nudge or rather push.

So here are the six things I've heard that sadden me as a yoga teacher:

1. "I don't want to take up all of your time during class or be a burden." This statement kills me. I teach because I want to help. It's part of what lead me to become a yoga teacher. I also know that this statement isn't made out of consideration of other students so much as the person making it doesn't want to feel like they need help. We all need help at some point and if I'm spending time with you it's because it happens to be your turn right now. I'm not ignoring the other students. I just happen to see that they can manage on their own at the moment. On a different day it will be their turn so don't feel bad.

2. "I tried yoga a few times but I wasn't good at it." No one is good or bad at yoga. It often takes years before you get comfortable enough with it to feel like you know what you are doing. Don't give up on yoga just because you stumbled your way through a few classes. Everybody does that in the beginning. Of course you feel stiff and tight and sore the next day. That's why you need yoga. Keep trying.

3. "Why aren't there more men in yoga? Is it more for women?" No! Yoga was actually invented by men for men. We women of the west have taken more of a liking to it than the majority of the men here and for that reason have probably crowded out the guys. That doesn't mean yoga is for women and that men can't do it. Men need yoga just as much if not more than women. Men often tend to prefer bulky muscles and weight training as opposed to leaner, more flexible muscles. However, inflexible muscles create a greater risk of injury. So come on guys, get in here and represent.

4. "Isn't yoga some sort of mystical, New Age, cult practice?" Unfortunately, yoga got a bad reputation in the 70's as being a stereotypical-hippie practice. Because yoga has been influenced by Hindu and Buddhist philosophies, it tended to draw those interested in Eastern religions when it first became popular here in the west. However, yoga itself isn't a religion and has become much more secular and fitness based in the last decade or so. You are just as likely to find lawyers, doctors and executives in a yoga class as artists, vegans and commune dwellers. Yoga is for everybody.

5. "I don't don't think I have the right body type for yoga." There's a right and wrong body type for yoga? This wasn't something that was taught to me in teacher training, I'd better go back. The idea that only thin, fit people can do yoga is simply wrong. Props were made to make poses accessible to all different kinds of people, from thin to overweight, young to old. Your poses might not look like the pictures in the magazines but that doesn't mean you can't do them.

6. "I'm fat, old and ugly and my stupid joints don't work anymore." I really hate hearing people berate their bodies. Calling yourself fat won't solve your weight problem, just as calling your joints stupid won't make them more flexible. Simply accept where you are at and figure out what you can change. If you have an injured body part, don't shun it. Treat it with kindness because it's endured enough abuse already. It will heal faster if you care for it, not push it.