The Non-Yoga Yoga Teacher

In the third trimester of my first pregnancy I began having extreme lower back pain from all the extra baby weight I was carrying. After I gave birth to Moody (see my “Ah, Life” blog if you’re confused), I was eager to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight. However, I wasn’t sure I could handle an intense workout regimen so soon after giving birth, and as the back issues continued, I did my best to research other ways to resolve the issue.

That’s when I stumbled onto the path of yoga.

Ten years later, I understand the amazing impact it has had on my life, from helping to heal my back pain and other maladies, to teaching me how to know and love myself as an individual. For these reasons, I find it extremely upsetting when I see a colleague lose their focus because they’ve decided there’s a better way to teach yoga because “just teaching yoga is boring”.

Yoga began nearly 5,000 years ago as a method of self-healing for the mind, body, and soul. As a teacher, I do my best to keep this in the back of my mind when I guide my students through their poses, even if they’re a bunch of clumsy toddlers who know nothing about proper alignment. They are learning how to become stronger and more self-aware individuals and I am being invited to participate in their journey, as well as sharing my own. They bring very little fear and ego into their yoga practice, and their willingness to learn and conquer the unknown is an incredible thing to behold. Working with them has been everything and more.

Recently, I worked with a woman who believed that yoga classes for children should be as high energy and entertaining as possible.

“You want your classes to be as upbeat as possible. High energy all the way. Lively music, dancing, singing. Kids love to be entertained.”

“But….what about breathing exercises? And warm-ups? Maintaining strength in their poses?”

“If you go in there with that mentality you’re going to lose them. You need to teach them yoga so that they have no idea they’re even doing yoga!”

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Naturally, I ignored her as politely as possible. Until, out of my own absurd curiosity, I tried it her way just to see what would happen. I had to then watch in horror as my calm and focused students turned into a group of hyperactive monkeys who had no idea how to go from high energy to Shavasana. It was quite the challenge bringing them back to a place where they could focus and find their inner calm. How does someone with this mindset get to teach yoga? I will never understand it.

Needless to say I will now keep my distance from her way of teaching and tell my curiosity to take a hike the next time it wants to change things up.

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“Mommy! There’s a couch on my head … hahahaha!”

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First of all let’s get something straight, kid. It’s not a couch. Okay? Because if you go to any dictionary, it will clearly state that a couch is “a long upholstered piece of furniture for several people to sit on”. This thing is a piece of foam covered with red fuzzy material marketed by Sesame Street so they can keep shoving the most annoying, sonic abomination of a puppet down the throats of disgruntled parents all over the world.

Do I even have to say the puppet’s name? No, I didn’t think so.

And if I sat my son down and explained it to him in these exact words, he’d look at me like I was the one acting strangely according to the rules of conduct in today’s modern society.

Only in the world of children can complete rational thought and proper behavior seem bizarre and incorrect.

Why do kids get to walk around with “couches” on their heads like it’s perfectly normal, but the minute we adults try something silly like that, we’re asked to seek therapy? Or a strait jacket.

When I look at my kids, I feel great envy. They wake up in the morning and stumble around in their wrinkled pajamas, completely unaware of the unnecessarily loud volume of their voices for the morning hours, and sporting what I can only describe as Phyllis Diller hair. And if I have to drive to the store because we are running low on milk for that particular morning’s breakfast, it is perfectly okay for them to get in the car in their said wrinkled pajamas and Phyllis Diller coiffes, and no one around us would say “boo”. Mainly because their children are also exhibiting similarly shocking and bedraggled appearances.

But if we, the adults, step out of line just once…well you can just picture it, can’t you:

You’re in the supermarket singing Coldplay on the top of your lungs and off key. You break down and whine-cry in a tantrum-like fashion for about 15 minutes in the middle of aisle 3 because your favorite Fiber One cereal is out of stock. You get to the checkout line and take all the coupons out of your wrinkled pajama pockets, counting each one in a loud and drawn out fashion, cheering and clapping maniacally when you get to the very last one; your Phyllis Diller hair peeks out in every direction from your Kmart hoodie. And for the grand finale, go ahead and stick a finger up your nose.

Now imagine a child doing this very same thing. Perfectly expected. Perfectly normal.

Kids have all the fun. They get to just be who they really are while we adults have to hide our wrinkled pajamas and bad hair and keep couches away from our heads. It’s just unfair, really.

If only I could walk into a family event, social gathering or one of my yoga classes the way my children leave the house some days.

Then again I teach children, so they’d probably just be thinking, “Hey, she’s really cool and behaving totally normal! Just like us!”

I can outDuranDuran your One Directioness

Teenage yoga. I have come to realize that these two words, when used in combination, are the ultimate oxymoron. And a surefire recipe for evil.

No one warned me that while I’m working hard to de-stress these future adults of society (god help us) that they are working hard to uber-stress me.

My teen yoga classes always begin with breathing exercises and eye rolls. And I’m not talking about yoga eye rolls. I mean those all too frequent glances of cynicism and condescension teenagers expertly use to belittle the rest of us. Because, hey, what the hell do we know that they don’t? I mean we’re just the dumb grown-ups and they know everything about life, right?

It’s not like I can’t fit right in with a group of teens considering the majority of them stand at least a foot taller than I do. “I’m hip. I’m with it,” I say to them in my best Dr. Evil voice as they stare at one another, shrugging cluelessly. But that is beside the point. It simply astounds me how quickly a yoga session with a bunch of juvenile, team Edward loving ninnies can go from “Om” to “O-m-g”.

And I’m sorry, but Jacob was the way better choice for Bella. Sooo, whatevz peeps.

Alas, adults of the world, marvel at my loose grasp of grammar after only 30 minutes in their presence. But I digress.

“What song is that? Omg, that’s so last year.”

“But… it’s Katy Perry,” I respond meekly as though I’m back in my sophomore year and my Aqua Net hairdo just fell flat. “Isn’t she, like, super awesome, totally, like, and stuff?”

It is at this moment I realize that I clearly have no idea how to converse with the young adults of today which frustrates the hell out of me since I used to be one. What happens to us that we become so disconnected to those feelings of rebellion and angst that teens display on a daily basis? Maybe it’s because we realize they have nothing to complain about now that most of us are juggling families, jobs, and bills that never stop piling up. Teenage jerks.

Forgetting my momentary sympathy and becoming more annoyed by the second, I say, “Never mind the music. Just try and find your focus so we can begin our sun salutation with mountain pose.”

“Mountain pose isn’t even a pose. We’re just standing here.”

Never have I wanted to twist someone into a yoga pretzel more and then not tell them how to untangle themselves.

And then a memory came back to me: my bedroom literally wallpapered with pictures of Duran Duran, my father angrily coming in to take them down because there were “too many”, and how furious I was with him for days after that. In my eyes, he wasn’t just taking down images of this band that meant so much to me at the time. He was tearing a piece of me down with them. And just like that, my inner teen kicked in.

“Okay, let’s just sit for a moment and take some time to regroup. Music, boys, parents. Talk.”

I hadn’t even finished that sentence before they were all trying to babble their gripes at me all at once. And after about 15 minutes of this impromptu release of emotions, I think they started to see me in a different light as well.

Plus it helps that I taped this image to each of their mats:

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And this one on mine:

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And we all connected after that, momentarily bonded. Standing as tall as mountains.

Ah, Life.

No, not the real one. The important one. You know…the board game. Which, if you ask me, is truly the ideal way to live. Because at the end of the game, at least you get to give the kids back.

Amid our varied and often hectic schedules, my husband and I strive to find ways to ensure that we are spending quality time with our two boys. Board games are one of our favorite go-to options. But let’s face it: sitting at a table, facing one another in close proximity, and working together to bring something to a fun conclusion is quite the challenge when children are involved.

The first battle is trying to agree on a board game that is age-appropriate for everyone. How we wound up playing LIFE with a 4-year-old in the mix is beyond me. After the four of us scanned the closet shelf filled with everything from RISK to Pop the Pig, we let our youngest (I’ll be referring to him as Scamp from this point on) choose.

“WE CAN PLAY LIFE BECAUSE IT’S ABOUT A FAMILY!!!” And who can argue that logic?

My husband, myself and my oldest son (and we’ll just call him Moody from this point on) all agreed that we would just let Scamp “think” he was playing. Don’t feel too badly for him. He usually wins anyway and we have no idea how it even happens.

So we head to our family table with game in hand, consenting to hand him money, random playing cards, and insurance papers so he’ll feel super important. The game begins and we let him spin the spinner and drive his car around the board so we can proceed without fuss.

If you’re familiar with the game, you know that your first decision needs to be whether you’d like to start your career or head for college.  Naturally, my husband and I opted for the college route, while Moody leaned back in his chair and smirked, “You guys are soooo going to lose,” as he breezed past the college option without hesitation and immediately headed toward the career path.

Scamp is now filling his vehicle with little blue and pink pegs and heading for the hills of Millionaire Estates. His ‘vroom vroom’ sounds are just obnoxious enough that I’m already rethinking this.

The game progresses and halfway through it I hear myself saying through gritted teeth, “So help me God, I will take all your money and run you and your entire family off the road.”

That is exactly what I told Moody after we had switched salaries for the second time. This is, I believe, a completely mature and rational reaction after one has been living in a log cabin with a leaky roof as a doctor with a measly 20,000 dollar pay check trying to feed four stupid kids in the backseat.

“I told you….you shouldn’t have gone to college,” Moody says smugly. Sure, kid. That’s easy for you to say since you’re living in my mansion with a 100,000 dollar salary as a musician and no kids in your car! Who plays LIFE and manages to skip over all the kid tiles? WHO?

“I’m sick of this game. I don’t want to play anymore,” Scamp whines, as he throws his car, family and all, into the middle of the board and proceeds to forcefully hand me all his money and cards. This transpires just as I’m rounding the corner to retirement and I can swear the little blue husband peg has just jumped out of my front passenger seat on purpose.

At this point I was tempted to flip the board and call it a day.

So thanks for nothing Hasbro. Because these happy smiling people on the cover of your game…

Life

Yeah, them. Well, they’re a bunch of liars.

If we play Monopoly next, there had better be Free Parking.

Hell no, we won’t go!

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You know when you wake up one sunny weekend in the Fall and think: Hey this will be a great day for apple picking with the kids!

Please. I am begging you. Just go back to bed. Save yourselves.

First you have to deal with the parents who make the rest of us look bad by having the otherworldly ability to actually do things in a timely fashion with their families. They go apple picking on September 1st and leave nothing for the rest of us slackers.

Then there’s the issue of what’s known as Indian Summer here in the lovely Northern Hemisphere. This morning you left the house in jeans and sweatshirts because it was 45 degrees, but it’s now close to noon and the sun is blazing like you just transported your entire brood to the Sahara instead.

Your sweatshirts are now wrapped around your waists, fathers are irritated, mothers are frustrated and children are whining that they want to go home. You trek miles through an empty orchard because you missed the wagon ride only to find one good apple left and it’s wayyyyyy up at the very top of the tree and completely not in the mood to fall into your stupid apple net.

The apple net which cost 33 dollars to rent, by the way.

You are now shouting at your loved ones to scour the ground under the tree hoping to find any apples that seem semi-decent because you refuse to leave until you have 33 dollars worth of apples, even if it kills all of you.

Did I mention the worms, the smell of the rotten apples, and the onslaught of bees?

And now your youngest refuses to walk one more step because the heat has him suddenly staring accusingly like you planned this whole fiasco of a day. (Well technically we did, but that’s beside the point)

Take it from me. You can soak up all those rich, leafy autumn colors by looking out any window in your home, head to the nearest bakery for a fresh baked pie, and get your apples at the nearest supermarket. And all for way less than 33 dollars.

I promise.

“Press to Click This.” Really?

I was going to start my very first blog with a nerdy introduction as to who I am and why I’ve decided to start up a blog in the first place. Then I slowly scrolled down my WordPress dashboard as I was setting up my account and read the four words I’ve enclosed in quotes up in my title.

Hmmm.

If you’re on your PC, laptop or iPad, pressing something will most likely always lead to clicking. Right? I feel like this is a trick question. Or maybe a cutesy way of hazing me as I start on this new venture. Which just led me to think: Well, clearly WordPress needs me to point these things out, so sign me up! 

Give me time, people. I’m new to this “pressing” business.

Now, how can I briefly describe what my blogs will contain? Let’s see…

This morning, as I was running here and there getting the family fed, dressed, and ready for our daily school/work routines, my husband “accidentally” locked me out of the house while I was walking our dog. When he finally stopped laughing and let me back in, I tripped right over the cat who, when hungry, has perfected the art of performing his “crazy-8” walk right under my feet. There is a “Crazy-8” agility skill certificate out there somewhere with his name on it, I can promise you.

Then my 10-year-old decides we can’t move the car until we relocate the frog who is sleeping in the middle of our driveway, while my 4-year-old announces that no one is going anywhere until we find his blue police car. All I could think was: Oh they’ll find a police car alright. In front of our house hauling me away after I dunk their little faces into their cereal bowls. 

So you don’t need an introduction, okay? And you’re not getting one. All I will add is that I practice and teach yoga and it is my passion. Otherwise these monsters I call a family would have needed to institutionalize me a long time ago.

On that note, thanks for reading my non-intro and I hope you’ll press to click this blog on a regular basis. Namaste!

Or whatever.