Friday, January 6, 2012

Life, Chapter 2

Most of you have seen me through this yoga journey from pretty much the beginning. 2011 was an amazing transition year. I transitioned from cubicle-dweller to my own boss; from clueless vegetarian to educated vegan; from fair-weather exerciser to dedicated yogi; and from drone to student to teacher. 2012 will be the year to settle into these transitions and cement them into a lifestyle.

I recently began teaching over in Ann Arbor. I am teaching for the studio I took teacher training through, which is a little intimidating. The main studio (not the one I am teaching at) is packed full daily. In a room that can comfortably hold 50, 100 people squeeze in on a regular basis. I haven't been able to open my arms to a T without fear of smacking someone in the face since I began. The interesting part is that there are probably 10+ other yoga studios within a 10 mile radius. Heck, within a 5 mile radius. Yet people flock to "my" studio, even though it almost always means getting meat-smelling sweat flung on you from the shirtless guy 3 inches away.

When I was asked to teach a few classes at a different branch of my studio, I readily accepted. I was warned it was not nearly as busy, but I didn't think much about it. In fact, I didn't think about it at all - it was my first teaching job! The first day I taught was two days before Christmas, and the second was two days before New Year's Eve. All of the classes had about 10 people in them. A far cry from what I was used to at "my" studio. But I figured it was due to the holidays.

Then I taught yesterday. I had assumed with the holidays over and New Year's Resolutions in full effect, the classes would grow. Even just slightly. But instead, each class shrunk to between 5-7 people!

During Teacher Training, Jonny Kest told us we had to check the ego at the door. That the number of students in the class was not how to judge your success, but instead your success should be judged on how open your heart is. Really connecting with 1 person is worth much more than playing Simon Says with 100 people just going through the motions. He said for many many years he would schedule classes and no one would show up. He would call people before class just to remind them and then not understand when people who had assured him they would be there, didn't show. This is the same guy who, last year, taught 600+ people in one class at the Wanderlust Festival in Squaw Valley.

I feel good when I teach, and am getting good feedback on my teaching, but that black cloud of doubt is still there. If I was any good, wouldn't the students appear? Teaching has made me realize how invested my ego is in everything I do. I have only taught 3 days - 6 total paid classes. No one in their right mind would expect a following after that. So why am I beating myself up over the size of the class? Instead of focusing on the connections I am making, on the students who are there, why do I keep going back to who is not? My eyes have really been opened to how I define success and how my definition may actually keep me from obtaining it. If I keep stressing about who is not there, I may miss opportunities with the ones that are. Starting today, I am making a Life Resolution (screw just for the New Year, this is for Life) to focus on the positive. On what I DO have and what is there. Not on what is missing.

Is there anything in your life that you are missing out on because you had different expectations? Where you can't allow yourself to enjoy the true reality because it didn't match what was in your head?


  1. Jenn, your experience with regard to ego and success mirrors my own. In my work a significant part of my role is to "minister" to the people with whom I work, not just to "direct" them. Sometimes things do not go the way I think they should go in my head, and it is hard to suppress my ego in those circumstances. Good post, good thoughts!! - Julie Ford

  2. Julie,
    Thanks! I didn't realize how personal I would take this whole teaching thing! It's difficult to let go of expectations and just accept and appreciate reality for what it is. Glad to know I'm not the only one :)


  3. I can really relate to this post. I completed the Summer Intensive Training Program with Jonny, and a couple of teaching gigs "fell" into my lap this past fall. At times, I am riddled with doubt about whether I am ready to be a teacher to others, but at other times, I receive great joy from the experience even if only one student attends. I recently received an email from the owner of one of the studios in which I teach giving us tips on how to increase our class sizes (frequent postings, passing out business cards, etc). I, personally, am not an advocate of pursing students, and I am torn with going with the flow versus trying to make things happen. Thank you again for sharing . . . I think I'll just go with the flow.

    Much love,
    Jenn C.

  4. Jenn,
    I think it is very personal decision - whether to actively pursue students or let things happen organically. Right now I'm not sure where I stand - it will be interesting to look back in a year and see how things played out :)

    Good luck!