• What it’s like To Own A Yoga Studio

    It has been exactly one year since I first opened my studio and it is has been nothing but a whirlwind. Emotions that come to mind are stress, exhaustion, freedom, despair, and strength.

    The yoga industry is very saturated

    Yoga teachers are fighting for work and yoga studios are nothing less than competitive. You have to be unique, different, offer extras, while also being affordable. People have to trust you, know you exist, and want to keep coming back.

    It has been time-consuming work to provide social media content, customize the website, advertise, talk with people, post flyers, etc. The hardest part is getting new clients through the door.

    The amount of free classes and workshops and TIME that I’ve given away frustrates me. I work so much that when I finally have a day off, I sleep for 12 hours, lay in bed all day, and take another nap. I even find it difficult to make myself a meal or shower or brush my hair. I’ve also had to work 2 other jobs just to survive.

    People

    Through my experiences with people, I have found that people are mostly unreliable. Whether they say they are going to come to class and not show or that they want to help and end up causing more stress, I have been left with a bad taste in my mouth too many times to count. Always have people reserve their space in a workshop or class with money not with a verbal promise!

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  • To Teach or Not To Teach Yoga at a Nursing Home

    I quickly realized that in order to survive, let alone be successful, as a yoga teacher, I needed to expand my horizons. This meant that only teaching at a studio was not going to cut it. So, I got creative.

    I looked into what it would be like to teach Chair Yoga at a Nursing Home. After calling and emailing a number of different places in my local area and offering some free demos, I landed a few gigs.

    I had never taught Chair Yoga before. So, I looked up Youtube videos and read articles about what to do. I discovered that it would be easy enough.

    Here are 5 things that I noticed about what makes teaching yoga at a nursing home different than any other setting and what I learned:

    Not everyone will participate.

    Most of the time, I felt like I was an entertainer instead of a yoga teacher because no one really participated. I had one or two people out of twenty who would try and follow along with me, but most of the people in the room were sleeping, telling me to stop, trying to leave the room, or too confused and/or sedated to do anything.

    I also volunteer at a non-profit Adult Day Care facility as well and it is a small group of participants (about 8 people) and they all participate. This facility is much more organized and chooses to bring people in the room who actually want to do yoga. Sometimes, it depends where you are teaching at.

    Find ways to get them engaged.

    Since I was having difficulty getting everyone to participate, I tried adding in fun little extras to get them engaged. I started bringing in my speakers to play music. I tried so many types of music, from relaxing to rock music, and found that if the music was calming yet upbeat, it created a nice energy in the room.

    I also utilized my essential oils. This worked the best! I would put a drop of oil in my palms and go to each person and have them take a breath. One time at the beginning and another at the end. They all really seemed to enjoy this.

    I also experimented with the lights and closing the door to the rec room, so that it felt more like an experience. Nevertheless, people were always in and out whether it was nurses or visiting family members, it was difficult to avoid a disruption.

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  • How To Find A Meditation That Works For You

    When we think of meditation, we see a monk sitting, legs folded, eyes closed, silent, sitting still. We think that he is in complete peace, his thoughts aren’t going, and he’s not bothered by the flies and mosquitoes. His legs aren’t asleep and his back isn’t aching. From the outside, we think meditation is bliss. But when we try meditation on our own, we feel uncomfortable on the inside.

    I go to group meditations once in a while. I’ve been to sound-healings where we are laying flat on the ground. I have also been to Mindfulness Meditations where we all sit around the room and are guided by a teacher. In the middle, I will open an eye and see everyone in their stillness with relaxed faces. Even while laying down, my bones start to ache after a while. While sitting, a cramp in my right shoulder develops. I get distracted by outside sounds and lights.

    The point is, meditation is not all peace. It is learning to get comfortable being uncomfortable, being in pain, and training the mind to bring it to simplicity. It’s a practice. Some days you will succeed and some days you will have a difficult time. But as long as you are trying, you will receive the benefits and your mind will become stronger.

    There are an infinite number of ways to meditate. So, don’t feel discouraged thinking that you are just limited to sitting in silence. You can . . .

    • Lay down on your back (But not recommended in the morning because you have been laying down all night while you were sleeping)
    • Concentrate on breathing in and out slowly
    • Count in your head
    • Concentrate on a color
    • Walk slowly and mindfully around the room/anywhere
    • Listen to music – any music! From Nirvana to Beethoven
    • Listen to nature – the ocean, a stream, the wind, birds
    • Dance (Look up Osho meditations)
    • Sew, Stitch, Macrame (Or any other repetitive motion)
    • Cook or bake
    • Draw a mandala
    • Color – there are adult coloring books
    • Sing a mantra (I recommend the Gayatri Mantra)
    • Create your own mantra and repeat in your head or out loud or even write it out – For example, “I am grateful” or “I am deserving of love”
    • Listen to a guided meditation on Youtube
    • Try Yoga Nidra
    • Try Qi Gong

    If you choose to sit or lay down in silence, feel free to use pillows or sit against a wall to make yourself comfortable. Meditation has no rules and you have to find what works for you. And when you feel pain or discomfort, be mindful of it and see how long you can last without moving or giving up.

    Going to a meditation group can also be helpful because it forces you to stay with the practice. The group energy keeps everyone together and gives you the strength to keep going and maintain. Also, you can make new friends!

    The easiest time to meditate is after the body has been moving and exerting itself. This is why we go into Savasana at the end of a yoga class. Working the body allows more space for the mind to calm down. So, no matter your physical practice, try to take 5 minutes to sit still at the end. If you’re having trouble finding stillness, do 20 jumping jacks and try again.

    Meditation allows us the space to stop and just exist. To be one with ourselves and the universe. When we give ourselves this time and space, we can remove blockages, we can hear our intuition, we can feel the feelings we were repressing, and we can release tension and de-stress. It is easy for our mind to be a tangled web. Meditation teaches us that things don’t have to be so messy and cloudy. Actually, life is simple. We are blessed to be alive and to experience life. Not all experiences will be pleasurable and meditation can teach us how to accept the unpleasant and even appreciate it.

    If you have any questions about meditation or need some advice or guidance in your practice, comment below.

  • What is Yoga?

    When I encourage people to try yoga or explain that I am a yoga teacher, the most common response is “I can’t do yoga because I am not flexible.” This is like me saying, “I cannot play basketball because I am not 6 feet tall,” or “I cannot run because I don’t have special, expensive sneakers designed for running.” It does not mean that we cannot participate in these activities, but, perhaps, we don’t have the natural talents or luxurious tools. Some people were born tall and others naturally flexible. We don’t invest in expensive equipment until we have invested our time. One of the beauties of yoga is all it requires is your body. You don’t need a fancy mat or fancy clothes…You can even do yoga naked.

    So when I hear this response, it is just an excuse. A misconception. Yoga is not for only flexible people. Developing a flexible body is a result of practicing. So is strength and balance.

    Yoga translates as union. It is a union between your body and mind. Between your spirit and the universal energy. It is the coming into being and the ceasing to be.

    We move our body to the flow of our breath. We are not thinking about the laundry or work or the date we are going on tonight, we are thinking about our lungs inhaling and exhaling. Nothing in your mind. Empty your mind. Breathe. In. Out.

    In order for us to go further in our practice, to gain more body control, we have to learn to cut our thoughts. Because we need concentration when we are upside down balancing on our hands. We need to teach our hips to relax when we’ve been in pigeon pose for over two minutes and our leg is going numb. Each time we hit the mat, we meet our threshold. We say hello to the wall and it is up to us to see if we can push it. Push the boundary even if it’s only a millimeter a day. Or don’t push it at all. Only you know what is best for your body.

    Yoga is listening to your body. It is listening to your mind. It is surrendering. Letting go. Relaxing. Sweating. Breathing. Releasing. Existing. Healing. You can learn a lot about yourself by getting on the mat 1 hour a day. Because for that one hour all you are focusing on is moving your body and breathing. Your mind will wander. You will get frustrated. You will feel uncomfortable. This is why yoga is called a practice. Keep trying and those drops of bliss that you feel will turn to liters. And it will pour out onto the rest of your everyday life.

    Be one with yourself. Learn about your body. Learn about your mind. Practice yoga.