Hello! Welcome to this week’s post. You might have noticed (or maybe not) that I missed last week’s Coffee Analysis Project. Sorry! It’ll be back this week. And feel free to send in your morning coffee photo to firstname.lastname@example.org, if you dare! With that, let’s get into this week’s thought explosion. LET’S GO
Did you know that your body is really really smart, and it’s sending you messages all the time? Sure, there’s the obvious ones like I’m friggin’ hungry and you better get me a cheeseburger, or BATHROOM. NOW. But there are also more subtle messages. Like, our bodies have opinions on everything we’re doing and it has its own set of feelings, independent of that static you get from your brain. Why do you think people “listen to their gut” when they talk about intuition and “feel it in their heart” when they mean oh, that puppy is cute!
Sometimes we get messages to stop doing something, and we ignore them. Sometimes we get messages about taking action, but we ignore those. It could just be me, but it seems that we rely so heavily on intellect these days that we don’t pay too much attention to the subtle cues. Hustle, work hard, push through the pain, blah blah. If we’re smart, we listen and make changes based on what our super smart bodies tell us. If not, we keep slogging past the signs.
In the yoga world, we have a saying: as within, so without. Or is it so within, as without? Or maybe as without so within? I don’t know, I can’t remember because I am a bad yoga teacher. But the gist of the saying is, our inner cosmos is a reflection of the outer one; each works the same way.
So from that we can infer that the Big Universe of the, uh, whatever you personally want to call it, the outer world, sends us messages, just like the Little Universe inside us.
In 2015, I left corporate America without a plan other than “I must do something different before this corporation squeezes all the life out of me.” (See above: messages your body gives you). In 2016, I became a yoga teacher, (a message/story for another day, perhaps) and drove all over town teaching 10-14 classes per week, eking out a living. Yoga was my main source of income. I taught power yoga, yin yoga, gentle yoga, chair yoga, medium-intensity yoga, lunchtime yoga in large corporations—lots of yoga. I enjoyed it and dang, I was in good shape back then!
Then came the Pandemic. No more in-person yoga. And therefore, no more income.
I sat there for two weeks in March of 2020, thinking “Well, this is interesting. What now?” Just like the entire rest of the world. A few weeks later, I got a call from two of my wonderful aunts (I have three amazing aunts, I’m so lucky!), asking if I would please teach a 30-minute chair yoga class a few times a week over Zoom because they and their friends were all just sitting around bored and needed some exercise. I said sure, I’m not doing anything else right now…
That turned into 6 chair yoga classes per week, plus two “regular” yoga classes per week for some of my other students. All online. People came and it was great and I was like yay, I can support myself! From home! The Universe has told me I should keep teaching yoga! Plus, seeing friends online was just perfect for a super introvert like me. Friends! From a distance!
Then it became something I stopped looking forward to. Teaching yoga is hard for me. It was really difficult in person—very tiring. Online was easier, but still I was losing the joy of it. I found myself asking, hey Universe, are you sure about this?
Then last year, when I got my diagnosis (I need to think of something different to call it, like Day of Complete Surprise, or I Now Have An Excuse For Everything Day), I realized that being spectrumy was why yoga was so hard! It’s hard to create and keep space for other people if you have trouble doing it for yourself. It was exhausting, beyond the physical effort of the yoga practice itself. So I finally gave myself permission to stop teaching so much and canceled everything but the 6 chair yoga classes (which is just 3 hours of teaching a week.)
3 of these chair classes are the private classes for my aunts, who invited a lot of their friends and in any given class there are 8-10 really amazing, inspiring women who call in from all over the world to practice their yoga together. In that group are are directors, psychologists, a famous chef, professors, renowned artists, authors, winery owners, to name a few. They call in from LA, Napa, New York, Atlanta, London, Italy, or wherever they happen to be, if they have time. It’s so cool! They like the class and bless them, they keep me afloat. Plus they are very inspirational women—they live vibrant, artistic lives and don’t let things like age get in their way, especially since they keep fit with their yoga!
And extra bonus: I can work from anywhere. I spent almost half of last year away from home, and only missed a few classes. I taught from Tulsa, Oahu, La Crescenta, Westchester, Sunset Beach, and San Diego. Have decent wifi, will travel.
I’ve still thought about quitting. Because it’s still hard. Around this time last year I told myself I’d stop at the end of 2022. But then my aunts and their friends invite a few more people, and the group grows, and they all love it, and here I am, still teaching.
It’s like the Universe says, OH I DON’T THINK YOU’RE GOING TO QUIT JUST YET, SMARTYPANTS. This could also be summed up by a line in the Godfather (what in life can’t be summed up by a line in that movie?)—something about just when you think you’re out, they pull you back in.
In this case, it’s just when you think you can quit yoga, your aunt invites another friend who loves the class so you keep going.
I don’t mean to sound like money is the only reason I keep going. I think I’m supposed to be teaching because it’s still good for me to practice holding space for people, and to share my unique experience of the mind/body connection. I am meant to be teaching because I still have things to learn from it. Paying the bills is a bonus.
So, I’ve learned to listen and trust the process, and here it is almost 3 years later and 3 days a week, I write out a class sequence, set up the camera, and thank my lucky stars that I have this amazing gig. I keep teaching yoga. I got the message, Big U!
I’D LOVE TO HEAR FORM YOU…
Is there anything that you keep getting the message about? Is it to start something or stop something? Are you listening? I’d like to know! Or tell me about anything else that’s going on. Leave a comment below and let’s discuss.
Thanks for reading!
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Hey you know you are a great yoga teacher! I took my first yoga class from you and have been taking classes twice a week for quite some time because of you. You made yoga accessible for me and I still do it, although I still suck badly at it, because you showed me that it was okay if my joints were all stiff and everything.
And yep, I can still hear you in my head.
As I read your posts I'm enjoying that I can still hear your voice in my head :)