teaching yoga


yoga

yoga (Photo credit: GO INTERACTIVE WELLNESS)

I don’t think much about getting paid to teach yoga. I should. One thing my teacher training instructor hammered home to us was that “People don’t value or stick with instruction that is given to them for free”, and she was correct.

In fact, I knew this from my time spent in the public school trenches – if it was free/it was a “gimme”. Anything you simply share is eventually taken for granted by the majority of people. Especially in our North American culture where so much emphasis is placed on price and the material.

But, I haven’t ever pushed to be paid at a certain rate. When asked, I throw out a few numbers based on what I know about the market and I accept what is offered. Money is fine but karma points are often much better.

This morning I got a call from the woman who hired me to teach at the community hall. She had been thinking about my rate of pay and wondered if I was happy with it.

At a minimum wage job, it would take me about half the day to make what I receive for teaching one hour of yoga. It’s not the worst part-time job ever. It’s barely a part-time job at all given that I work on average about three hours a week minus travel time, which is also pretty negligible.

“I hadn’t thought about that,” I told her.

“Well, I have been thinking that maybe we need to raise your rate,” she said. “The yoga program has been very successful here and we wouldn’t want to lose you.”

What prompted this, I think, was less the idea of losing me and more contact with fitness instructors.

The fitness program in our little hamlet has grown from yoga to include a program for senior citizens twice a week and two weekly Zumba classes.

I don’t know what the instructors of the classes charged for their services, but I can guess and it’s probably more than what I settled for initially.

However, they came from proven backgrounds and have additional communities that they serve. I was just starting out.

So, I got a raise and didn’t even have to ask for it. How awesome is my life?


Cartoon showing baby representing New Year 190...

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I never really left school. I went from university to teaching, so the calendar year never altered for me. August kicks off the new year in a way that January just never did.

It’s funny really that the year officially rolls over in January yet many people mark the passage of time with the school calendar or the fiscal year, which is July or October usually, depending on your occupation. January 1st is just Christmas’s less interesting sibling.

Back in the day, I would have already been in my classroom and probably completely ready to go by now. I made it a habit to crack the seal on my “office” door the first week of August. I’d spend the mornings cleaning, organizing, decorating and finally planning. I typically outlined the entire year before breaking it down by semester and then grading periods and finally daily lesson plans. I rocked really.

August, therefore, feels like the time to plan. With Dee heading back to school, I have free hours during the day that need direction.

Direction that isn’t laundry or baking or cleaning.

Briefly I toyed with applying for a job at the museum in town. They are looking for a program assistant. It’ teacher work. Organizing and brainstorming. I would totally be in my element. Curriculum. History. Teaching. Some of my favorite things in life. The work is even part-time and mostly flexible, but the bulk is Tuesday and Thursday, and I am already committed to teaching yoga at the community hall in the evenings. The potential for the whole thing to turn into long days in the hellmouth is fair to good.

I’m gearing up to have myself added to the city’s yoga teacher sub list, and I’m going to take a couple of classes to get ready to e-publish a few short works that are a bit too niche for the bigger markets. That’s enough on top of home and family though I struggle still with the stay at home thing. Four years out of the workforce is a freakish feeling for someone who spent nearly 30 years of her life working. And with the economy in free-fall again, I get itchy.

But we don’t need me working part-time for peanuts, which screws us at tax time, and me going back to teaching adds unnecessary stress to our daily lives because the juggling of household chores and kid is no small thing. The pressure to work outside the home rears up though. Not as often as in the first years and usually driven by  something coming up that my working wouldn’t fix anyway.

It’s better that I stick to my original plan, which could pan out more profitably in the longer term with a bit of luck and nose to the keyboard.

Need to put my father’s daughter to bed once and for all and concentrate on the ball in play.


Look, if you had one shot, or one opportunity
To seize everything you ever wanted in one moment
Would you capture it or just let it slip? 

Lose Yourself by Eminem

Not quite the scenario I’ve been presented with but an apt lyrical representation in some ways.

The studio where I study and teach shuts its door at the end of the month. My friend and teacher, Jade, has chosen to step away and spend more time with her children and seek saner employment opportunities. She offered those of us who teach there the opportunity to take the studio over, and regretfully, I passed.

Timing is one of those serendipitous things. It introduced Rob and I to each other and brought Dee and I to Canada. It has afforded me with writing opportunities and yoga study and teaching opportunities that someone with my background shouldn’t likely have had. But it didn’t show up for this one.

I love the studio. It’s compact, elegant and well-situated. Sitting above a used bookstore (yes, the one I toyed briefly with buying) and sandwiched between a seedy pub and a liquor store, it fits the stereotypical ideal of city yoga studios everywhere. How often have you run across yoga springing forth from the seedy remains of crumbling downtowns like saplings stubbornly taking root in the cracks of sidewalks.

Even as strip malls and newer shopping plazas spring up on the other side of the highway, the town is determined to lure folks back to the former city center with a massive overhaul, repaving the streets, putting in wider sidewalks and creating a pedestrian plaza just a block away. The area improves with each year and there are signs that small businesses, at any rate, have taken notice and are moving into the empty retail slots at a heartening pace though not all have succeeded.

So location? The studio has that covered.

The rent, though I didn’t ask, is probably reasonable based in the information I acquired when I was checking out the bookstore.

And there is a need and a student base, but I am not naive about either. The former fluctuates with the weather, and the latter is a personality thing. Jade has a loyal following but it wouldn’t necessarily switch allegiance. When you are the product in a sense, you can’t “sell” that along with the physical aspects of your business.

Why not then?

Because any type of “fitness” oriented business is subject to the time constraints of those who use it. Shift work rules around here, so early mornings and evenings are prime time. I have a husband and child who expect me about in the early morning and evenings to accommodate them. As it is, teaching just three nights a week this past nine months has been strain enough. If I were to add more?

Rob’s enthusiasm factors as well and he couldn’t offer much when I told him about the studio.

“You’re not thinking about doing it, are you?”

He is my most ardent supporter, but he can be forgiven his self-interest. My working hinders more than it helps our bottom-line and that was never more evident than when we filed our Canadian taxes this year. And my not being around in the evenings shifts the burden of Dee’s activities to him alone in terms of carting her about and cheerleader duty.

One of the reasons behind Jade’s decision was the fact that she was missing hockey games and that precious four hours from the time kids get home from school until they are tucked in for the night. I know that many two income families live quite happily in the nano-bits snatched in the before and after school allotments. They pack everything that doesn’t conveniently fit into the week into a 48 hour weekend, but as I remember that life – it takes a toll.

And then there are the crucial factors. I don’t know anything about running a business, and freelancing more seriously this last year has taught me that the rules, which govern me from afar, are more complex and onerous than I knew.

Finally, I don’t know that I am ready to “be the teacher”. Sure, I teach yoga, but under the umbrella of the studio, which affords me credibility. I am unsure that I possess the experience and knowledge – or radiate the gravitas –  that one needs to in order to “be the studio owner” – to be THE teacher.

Regardless, it’s hard to let this one slip even though I know that there are good reasons for doing so.


Christmas in the post-War United States

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The always awesomely amazing Julie Pippert, who took a huge chance on me and gave me my start as a blogger beyond my own little realm, asked me if I would share my yoga journey at Choose You today.

Though I meant to blog for you dear readers, the Christmas Express is hurtling at me with deadly accuracy and with in-laws arriving today and the house still at half-ass status (not to mention the demonic dishwasher taking a header – again), my to-do list is long enough to make me cry.

So, head over to Choose You and I’ll update you on the state of progress – or my nervous breakdown – tomorrow.

Oh, and the tree pic? That would not be a representation of ours, which is still a pine-cicle by the swing set in the backyard.


How Yoga Teachers Hang Out

Image by sarahfelicity via Flickr

I resigned from my teaching position of twenty years in the spring of 2007. At the time, I had vague notions of rolling over my teaching certificate and working as a classroom teacher in Alberta. I still think about the license – need to get on that really – but the idea of teaching high school again doesn’t warm my insides.

So I semi-officially retired from teaching. I still read about the horror known as “reform” down in the states and I write about it (none too flatteringly which would make it hard to secure a teaching position down there again, methinks), but I don’t harbor any notions of returning.

When I left the building, I didn’t look back.

Okay, I still love office supplies, but that aside, I don’t miss the job of it. And it was a job. A thankless and mostly mind-numbing job as the years ground on.

I blogged. I wife’d the house, mothered the child and poured myself into myself and my husband. And life was very good.

But somewhere along the line, yoga arrived and then the urge to teach it followed, and now I am not exactly retired anymore. In fact, I am working – more and more.

What started with filling in at the studio here and there became an employment opportunity when I was offered one then two and now three classes of my own. Quickly on the heels of this came an offer to teach two nights a week at the community hall across the street. Add to this the fact that I’d already agreed to take every third Friday teaching a class for figure skaters in the next town over.

Between this and the Care2 gig – I am working again.

Not that I could pay the mortgage – which isn’t an issue because we don’t have one anyway – but it’s an exchange of skills for money. I haven’t done this in a while and it’s … interesting.

I had to shop. My yoga attire is not exactly Lululemon. I gave her up a while ago because the pants are too low-cut and the fabric doesn’t breathe enough for my comfort level. I am a capri’s and leggings type with long t’s and sweaters. Layers is the middle-aged woman’s best friend.

I have a lesson book. I write out sequence plans. It’s like the old days only everyone who shows up wants to be there and pays attention.

Not that many are showing up. It’s not my studio. People who come expect Jade. And why not? She’s good. So my classes have a couple of folks here and there. It’s a bit disappointing in the first few minutes but once I start to teach, I lose myself in the instruction and forget about the numbers.

The community hall class will be bigger. Nine registered officially and a few more who’ve verbally committed. Perhaps I can lure a few into the studio? It’s a goal; I won’t deny it.

Someday I will have a studio. Somewhere. I don’t think it will be soon or here, but the future – as Yoda pointed out to Luke – is a difficult thing to pin down for prediction purposes.

For now, I am a working girl again. That’s all I need to know.


Yoga Class at a Gym

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… check out the yoga blog. I wrote about teaching my very own yoga class this last Saturday.

I am, rather unsurprisingly, at home in the teacher role though I recognize my newbie-ness. Teaching something new is a challenge and my innate ability only carries me so far.

Tonight I start restorative and I think that rehab, stress relief and just overall coaxing people into better habits, mindsets and onto the mat in general as a lifestyle is probably my yoga teacher calling.

Cat, my Yoga Works instructor, talked about how exhausting teaching could be. And it is. I was dog tired Saturday night, but I went to class yesterday afternoon and plan to attend the Sattva class that follows my restorative tonight.

If all goes according to plan (and nothing of the kind has happened for a good two months now so I am not holding my breath for this or anything), I will teach four classes a week and attend 5 yoga classes on my own.

Ambitious? Perhaps. But I have plans.


Saturday morning I went into the “office” and began my new “job”.

It’s teaching. Nothing really new or different about it. Aside from the distinct lack of office supplies which totally doesn’t feed my need to periodically wander the aisles of Staples. I will have to find other excuses and I am sure I am up to the task.

But it didn’t feel like work. Not that teaching ever really felt like actual work. I’ve had jobs that were work in the sense that they didn’t matter, contributed nothing that wouldn’t be missed and basically contributed to the atrophy of my intellect.

So, I know what “work” is.

Teaching yoga? Not work.

I feel like I’ve discovered some great scam and yet, I am doing something for people and furthering my own journey.

The class went well. My timing bites, but it’s a learned thing and I will learn.

Interesting aside. After I locked up for the morning, I headed to the parking lot via the back stairs and as I approached the bottom, I stepped into a thick residual haze of pot vapors.

The young fella minding the skater shop across the way had just returned from a snack run up those stairs. Now there is the perfect teen job, eh?

But it was a good morning.