There’s a grace when the heart is under fireSongwriters: Joel Houston / Chris Davenport
Another way when the walls are closing in
And when I look at the space between
Where I used to be and this reckoning
I know I will never be alone
Another In The Fire lyrics © Hillsong Music Publishing Australia
After a few trying years mentally and physically, I settled upon Yoga as a form of self discovery and exploration. I threw myself into the practice 100% and dedicated much time and effort to the exercise and mental practice that accompanies it. My yoga drug of choice was Power Yoga or Baptiste Yoga. It really is a great physical and mental workout and leaves you with plenty of time to go deep within to find yourself, your motivation, your sense of being. Yoga gave me something hold on to, something to strive for (becoming a yoga teacher), but in the end the dream was hollow. I attended a two-week intensive 200hr yoga teacher training (YTT) in the summer of 2019 and it was eye opening but not in the way one would think learning to teach yoga should be. It was troublesome, and left me questioning myself and my sanity. The instructors kept telling me that I was the most enlightened of all the students because of my BPD and how it let’s me see and understand the world around me. This reasoning only left me doubting myself more. I didn’t see what they were saying and I didn’t get it. I also didn’t enjoy being forced to do supposed ‘self-help’ exercises that left people in hysterics. Forcing people to face past traumas and then pretend they never happened – what exactly dose this have to do with teaching yoga? We were always told that in order to be able to teach the poses to other we first have be mentally prepared for what that entails…? What?? Since when do I have to have a mental breakdown in front of 30 other women in order to show people how to do stretches? Last time I checked my personal trainer at the gym wasn’t a licensed therapist, and I am not sure how making me question reality is relevant when I am asking my students to “ground down the four corners of their feet and tuck in their core”. Still I came home from that training wanting to be a yoga teacher, I mean I had just paid a lot of money for this, so shouldn’t I want to do this as a vocation?
As time marched forward I soon came to realize that there was more to the world of yoga than comfy Lulu’s and fancy sport bras. The dark-side of attending a YTT is that the training is never done. And truthfully that can be said of any job, there is always more to learn, and lots of ways to improve both personally and professionally. Unfortunately in the world of yoga, each studio has it’s own styles, own trainings, and own tactics to get you (the budding yogi(ni)) to keep spending money.
In the case of the studio where I volunteered my time as an energy exchange staff member (we donated 4 hours of our time each week in-exchange for free yoga), and had taken my training through, I was not being fleeced for money. Having come back from yoga teacher training, myself and the ladies from our studio had to audition for a chance to be added to one of the two tiers of teachers. Other studios under this chain did not operate in this manner, and gave everyone a chance to teach by having them partner up and teach the community donation classes held each week. This style of teaching practice helps students get confident and while allowing them to volunteer to teach a regularly scheduled class each week. The studio I was at did things differently. If your audition was successful you were added to tier one and given either a class on the schedule each week that was yours, or you were first to be contacted if a substitute teacher was needed. If your audition was deemed needing work you were added to tier two, which meant that you would only be called upon if/when no other teacher could be found to sub the class. You were not allowed to pass Go, you were not allowed to collect your $200, you were sent directly to yoga teacher jail.
The owners encouraged you to put yourself out there in the community and teach as many free classes as you could places, so long as you weren’t teaching at the studio. They wanted you to teach to your family and friends over and over again. Sure this helps to a degree, but all it really does is solidify the sequence of poses, it doesn’t help you get feedback from other teachers, or other studio members. And what happens when you have a very small group of friends and your family isn’t really yoga ready? Well lucky for you the studio has training for that…for a nominal fee ($399.00) you can sign up to be mentored by a senior instructor whereby at the end of the mentoring you will get to teach one of their scheduled classes, and if all goes well you pass go and collect your $200. Okay so there’s no money involved until you finish your 6 week probationary period where you teach for free… But wait there’s more… now that you have paid thousands for training, you need to make sure you add to your repertoire. You want to make yourself available to cover a variety of classes so you are going to want to sign up for those trainings as well. Of course none of this is covered by the studio. They ask you to sub in for an instructor but first they need you trained (formalities)!
I experienced this all first hand. I wasn’t top tier material, and you know what maybe I wasn’t, but I also wasn’t given a chance to prove myself. I was told to teach on the side more and then audition again in a few weeks, so I did. Guess what? when I came back for audition #2 they had a whole new list of things I needed to improve upon which were contradictory to the first list they gave me… I was being pushed towards mentoring and kept being told that I was guaranteed to be great at the end of the 12 weeks. In the corporate world mentoring comes free and is often encouraged, in the yoga world it costs $399.00. I skipped mentoring for the time being and was given the chance to teach thanks to a snowstorm a few months later. The feedback I received from those in the class was fantastic, but apparently that’s not the feedback the studio owners were given?? So instead they encouraged me again to pursue mentoring. Again I said ‘no’. Then they approached me and asked me to take over teaching some of the kids classes seeing as I have young kids (found out later that everyone else said no and they were in a bind), I said yes excited at any opportunity to teach. The caveat here is that kids yoga teaching has its own training so of course I was going to need to sign up for that, presumably through head office with their specific kids training. I agreed to take training but I told them I would pick a program I wanted seeing as I was paying for it (I was trying to see if they would agree to pay for it since they were desperate and needed me).
Along came Covid19 and the ensuing pandemic. The studio was closed because of the provincial lockdown so I was limited in availability of kids program training. I wasn’t rushing as no one knew how long the lockdown would last. I found a training I liked and signed up for their intensive program which would give me training in a variety of youth yoga classes. I let the owners know and encouraged them to check out the program themselves so that they could see what I would be trained in so that we could work on adding more kids offerings. This fell on deaf ears. They were not interested. They had someone lined up to teach Tweens yoga (I was under the impression I was taking over those classes from my contract and our earlier conversations) and they didn’t want to entertain Teen classes they wanted teens in with the adults. I don’t know about you but when I was a teen I didn’t want to take exercise classes with adults. I told them about the specialized training I was receiving in Trauma Informed Yoga for Youth and all anyone said was “good for you”. But still the owners were encouraging me to take the mentoring program, stating that lockdown was the perfect time to do it.
Something wasn’t sitting right with me with regards to the studio and everything I had encountered and was continuing to encounter. I was trying to fit in somewhere that I wasn’t meant to be. During the lockdown I would email the owners and give them updates on my training and forward them certificates (to add to my file at the studio) but I would never hear back. When the summer came and the reopening plan was beginning to take shape I was left out of those sessions and was even told I didn’t need to attend the in-person staff meeting because the kids classes were not resuming and I wasn’t a sub (umm, wasn’t I still on tier 2?). I didn’t take much offence at the time but I did reach out a few weeks after the reopening to see what I could do to help or even volunteer again but I was told due to differences of opinion we would need to take a break (how well did that work out for Ross?)… which is a different topic all together that really is inconsequential now.
I took me a while after to see that God had been trying to tell me all long I was on the wrong path. When I signed up for the YTT it was bad timing but we made it work sort of… (don’t worry Dave Ramsey Baby Step #2 will take care of that). Then everything that happened afterwards was another sign that I just wasn’t seeing. God was directing me towards my vocation. He was leading my to my spiritual gift(s).
Growing up I was always good with kids. I babysat from a very young age, and even got along well playing with all of my younger cousins. As I got older when others met me and saw my interactions with kids they generally assumed I was a teacher or early childhood educator. But I had a dirty little secret, I didn’t want kids. I had never wanted kids growing up. It really wasn’t a secret, as I was forthcoming with that information (thank you BPD for my limited filter). It was a point of contention in our relationship (hubby’s and mine) but we got over that hurdle and well now we have three boys under the age of 9.
As I began to get serious over the past year with my faith, I knew joining a church would be important to my continued growth both in Christ and personally. I finally felt at home and at peace with not only myself but my whole being, my soul felt right. Once I decided on a church home, partly chosen due to it’s proximity to chicken wings, (lol, thanks kids) and due to my having attended this church in my early 20’s I knew I was where I was meant to be. God had led me here once and I got scared and ran away, but I was back again and this time he wasn’t letting me go without a fight. I quickly felt the need to become not only a member of the congregation but of the church as a whole and applied to become a full fledged voting member. joining only a small number of the greater congregation. But even before that the head of children’s ministry, who I had only met a few months before and only briefly reached out to me. The lead pastor’s wife wanted me to serve in children’s ministry. Internally I was groaning. Part of me was excited to be wanted, to be asked to be a part of something, but part of me was doing some hard core eye-rolling, children’s ministry… really God, is this somekind of joke?
It seemed that I was destined to lead and teach kids. Heck, I was even thrown into homeschooling with God’s help this year.