How to say ‘anus’ as a yoga teacher and not laugh out loud

Maybe I should have actually titled this “How long does it take before you can say ‘anus’ as a yoga teacher and not laugh?”, because I don’t actually know the answer yet.

I’m a serious newbie. It’s only been a few months since I finished my teacher training, and unless you count me teaching my aunt in her living room (which I do), tomorrow will only be my fourth public class. I’m starting a series on the chakras, and am still trying to decide if I can actually put the Ashwini Mudra in my sequence and keep it together.

It’s not that anuses (ani?) are funny.  It’s not that I don’t understand the benefits of this mudra, or that I don’t have deep reverence for all my bodily parts and functions. I do. But I teach in a very small community, both yoga and elementary school. Two of my students are high school students, who used to be in my homeroom back when they were in grade 8. One of my students is a parent of a girl on the basketball team I coach. One is the secretary at school.  Three others are dear friends with whom I worked at camp with for years, where butt jokes are the norm. I can say anus- but can I say it in front of this group? Will they laugh at me? Will it turn the new students off of yoga? Will the 16 year olds be able to take instruction on how to contract their anal sphincter from a former school teacher? Cause you have to admit, that feels wrong in a lot of ways. And trying to establish myself as a yoga teacher in a class half-full of friends who know a different version of me- the louder, camp-counsellor, song singing, antic-filled me- will they think I am just a poser? A new age hippie yogi-wannabe? Leave it to anuses to finally make the new teacher anxiety kick in.

For now, the mudra is staying in my sequence- But I still have 22 hours to go. Whether I actually put the ass in my class remains yet to be seen. Stay tuned.

Unattachment

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Everything changes. The only thing that doesn’t change is that fact that everything changes.

Much unhappiness comes from becoming attached- to an idea, a person, an emotion. Even happiness is a passing state- a friend once told me unhappiness comes from expecting to be happy all of the time. It is far better to view your emotions as passing clouds. Just be aware of them, good or bad, and be comfortable in the knowledge that everything is always in flux.

The gift of yoga

In the summer of 2009, yoga saved me.

I was experiencing anxiety like I had never felt before. I wasn’t sleeping, cried at the drop of a hat, and felt constantly sick to my stomach. I had already committed to going back to work at summer camp, and was really worried I wasn’t going to be able to function. I made myself a wellness plan- swim before breakfast and yoga after dinner. I usually practiced alone, but soon friends starting joining me, asking me to teach them what I knew.

In those hours after dinner in the aptly named Harmony Hut, I discovered a passion not only for my own yoga practice but for sharing it with others. Asana already helped me feel calm, but no feeling compared to teaching. I starting daydreaming about a future in which I became a yoga teacher, but had no immediate plans to make those dreams happen.

Over the years, my Monday night yoga class continued to be a grounding force in my life, providing me with refuge from my own tormented mind when I couldn’t find it elsewhere. Some nights, I would fight back tears, anxiety ridden and panicked, but always, always, always left feeling calm. It became apparent that yoga could not just be a hobby for me- I wanted it to be my lifestyle. Even more, I wanted to share it with others, and help them find calm in the same way that I did.

I took time off from work last fall and did a 200 hour yoga teacher training in Nelson, BC. I was initially just looking for a yoga retreat, until I stumbled across a website that shifted my perspective- and I realized this was exactly the right time in my life to work towards my dream of sharing this passion with others in a professional capacity.

And now, here I am, having just taught my first public yoga class. Some were new to yoga- others with years of experience. I nearly cried looking around the room, watching all these beautiful women breathe deeply and move from one pose to the next.

I left feeling so high. Teaching yoga is a gift to myself even more than it is a service to others. This is a path I am so content to travel!