Teaching Yoga After Graduation

Taught my first yoga class since being Yoga Alliance certified!

I worked on this lesson for most of Monday, which was a holiday in Canada. My class was focused on twisting – I titled it “Twisty Tuesday” – with wrist warm-ups and ladder vinyasa flow that included revolved side angle as the pinnacle pose.

In our program and at our studio, we don’t teach chaturanga dandasana anymore (refer to Kathryn Bruni-Young’s Instagram if you’d like to know more); often, we will end a vinyasa with plank to knees, lowering to belly, baby cobra, rest on the belly, full push up into plank and then finish in downward dog. I definitely made my 3 students sweat! One of them had glistening arms!

Right now, I’m covering the 6:30am Tuesdays for August. It’s a trade position, which means that I do not get paid. Instead, I can take one class for free if I teach one. I’m very appreciative of this, especially after L., whom I met up with in Oregon, told me it’s rare to see your own studio hire you, especially considering how many graduates come out of one. I’m glad to have this foot in the door, as it’ll be one of the first non-volunteer positions that I can put down on my resume (something that I haven’t worked on yet).

Long term, I haven’t figured things out yet. I’ll each one more trade class in October, but I will have to figure out other work options. I’m not sweating it right now; things will work themselves out.

Happy Tuesday!

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July Updates

Yoga in the Park: Went 3 times to get my YTT hours in. Outdoor yoga isn’t my favourite, but we have to complete at least 50 hours of practice/observation in the studio. Yes, finally got this done in the first week of July!

Moving: My move to my new place has been delayed until the middle of the month. Since I’m paying half a month’s rent, I’m not in a position to argue, but it was just annoying that the landlord dropped this on me last minute. Brother-in-law will help me with his company truck.

Turtle tank: My red-earred slider, Honu, will eventually move to Kitchener, once I’m settled in. He’s been stuck in a tank that he has outgrown, but last week I picked up a slightly larger tank and a cabinet/stand for $120 off Kijiji. It’s 30 gallons and not as big as I was hoping to get, but this is what I can afford right now and at least it’s deeper so that he can have a better swim. Many of the other options were a) too large and/or b) overpriced. Just a couple more weeks until he gets a new home! I’m also hoping to throw in some guppies too for stimulation too (don’t worry, he probably will be horrid at chasing them).

Bartering: Did half a dozen trades on Bunz the past month, including some transactions that involved the BTZ cryptocurrency. In terms of my biggest trades, I gave away my FitBit Aria scale* for an old Samsung phone. I wanted a second phone to act as a back up and to use it for traveling to Oregon later this month.

The highlight, earlier this week, was that I picked up a nice pair of cute yellow wedges!** They fit perfectly and will be great for date night!

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*I got sick at looking at my body fat percentage. I’ve come to terms that this number probably isn’t going down to what it was a few years ago, but I’m healthy, so why make myself miserable with a stupid number?
**Still going strong on my one-year long clothing shopping ban.

Avoiding Homework

I’ve been doing fairly well with my yoga teacher training homework until April. I’m behind on my last assignment, which was due over a week ago. I’ve not been motivated to keep up lately, possibly because we are reading the Bhagavad Gita, which brings back strong memories of a terrible experience with a first-year university philosophy course.

I’m not the only one who’s fallen behind, but I don’t a justifiable excuse. Of course, graduation being less than 3 months away, so with the pressure of time, I know I need to do some catching up.

Thankfully, I have a bit of flexibility at work. When I’m substitute teaching, I occasionally have to watch a class study for a test. Especially when it’s not a course I’m familiar with (*cough* *cough* physics), then I am stuck with time on my hands. I usually carry a paperback with me – currently Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist: Essays – and work on layouts in my bullet journal. If I’m carrying my laptop, I will do some journaling or catch up on the news.

Today I managed to tackle a portion of my homework assignment. We had to choose 3 pinnacle pose and find 5 asanas – yoga poses – that are related or good preparation for each of these pinnacle poses. I decided to do this part of the assignment on Padlet, which I’ve used for teaching math and setting up concept maps.

This took me less than 20 minutes and was much more fun than I thought. Perhaps I just need a way to make my assignments more interesting to myself? Draw on some more fun tech tools? As a teacher, I have experiencing dealing with students who struggle with motivation and completing work on their own. As a human being, it’s not unusual when I go through this myself!

Headed to the library tonight to tackle a bit more after dinner.

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(More) April Updates

Library Course: I previously had mentioned that I completed my course in the first week of January. Got my OCT certification upgraded. This means that I can receive calls for this subject area!

YTT Weekend: Just finished a wonderful weekend We had a lovely day with Carly Stong, from Kingston, Ontario. She is a fat activist and yogi who has been teaching us about body positivity and explained why the word fat is not an insult. If you’d like to hear more about Carly, check out this podcast interview with her from Kathryn Bruni-Young. Here’s a shot of my lovely studio while it’s empty on the lunch break:

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Kids’ Yoga: I’m now volunteering to teach an hour of kids’ yoga at a local elementary school. I’ve blocked off my Wednesdays for work. Good to add to my resume if I do decide to apply for yoga teaching jobs in the future. So far, I’ve completed two sessions.

Walking: I’m pretty much afraid to show people my pedometer; it is an embarrassing mess and I’m nowhere near 10,000 steps a day.* Thankfully, I can be motivated by friends and am in an online step challenge with high school friends on the Canadian-funded Carrot Rewards app. Yup, sometimes shaming works! It has helped a lot since I check the app everyday and if my steps are low, I’ll take a walk at the end of the day to hit my goal.

Here’s a shot of the beautiful Victoria Park in Kitchener, Ontario.

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Health: Earlier last month, I got a local family doctor, which is hard to come by in Kitchener-Waterloo. I got a general blood test and it appears I have healthy levels of vitamin B12 but low levels of iron storage. Currently trying to find a brand of iron supplements.

Also, I recently discovered this amazing chia seed pudding at Freshii, which is a Canadian fast food restaurant chain. OMG – sprinkled with mango, strawberries and coconut, this healthy dessert is soooo delicious!

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*I do try to set down my cellphone, which is what is tracking my steps, when I’m at home. This likely reduces my step count. I’m waiting to get a FitBit off of Bunz. The trade has been negotiated but the original swap got canceled due to the great ice storm last weekend.

Monthly Goals – March

Health and Fitness
  • Catch up on YTT class hours (3/5): I need to attend 30 more classes before end of June, as part of my homework. That means I need about 10 classes each month, before July In March, so far I’ve had 7 classes. Need to keep attending more!
  • Try a new studio (4/5): Did this on the last day of March! Part of my yoga teacher training homework. Now have to fill out my participation worksheet.
  • Start a spreadsheet to start claiming medical expenses (4/5): While doing taxes, we realized I will need this for 2018 taxes. Got this started but need to revisit the exact dollar mounts through my receipts. Carry this over to next month
  • Go climbing (3/5): Went climbing twice – once at GRR and once at The Core
  • Order a Squatty Potty (5/5): This has been a goal I totally forgot about for at least a year. Just did it last week. It should come in by April. As Bowman says, #stackyourlife!
Teaching
  • Start using Twitter again (3/5): Share math resources and get active again.
  • Be amazing at practice teaching (3/5): Didn’t do as much full yoga class practice teaching with friends and family. Practiced with P., N., J. and Liz. Also did the glute/hip/quad work with two people, including my sister.
  • Get feedback for YTT classes (2/5): Developed a Google Form to received feedback. Only used it once as I didn’t do many full yoga classes.
Finance / Professional Development
  • File taxes (5/5): Mom helped me do most of the work and even got my return back! Last year that I get to enjoy the benefits of Northern Residents Deduction. Sigh.
  • Apply for EI (3/5): Applied a bit late but yeaaaahhhh, not eligible because my last school board has not officially sent off my paperwork to the government. GRRRRRR.
  • Send in certification rating to Human Resources (5/5): Oops. Forgot to do this earlier and only completed it in the last week. This took a few months as I had to send off all the transcripts to OSSTF. I’m currently ranked in Group 3.

End of March Update

It’s been a great few three days in Toronto, but it’s also a huge relief that, as I was cruising up Highway 85 on Saturday afternoon, I am headed back to my home.

Toronto can feel like home in some ways and it always will, but honestly I find it stressful to be there for more than 3 days at a time. Traffic definitely contributes to it! Kitchener-Waterloo is where I live now, year-round and these days, I don’t “go home” for the summer. I finally have a place where I’ve got my own social life and independence as an adult and it’s not in the middle nowhere (sorry, Waskaganish)! My introverted self is very happy to have my own space where I can enjoy my solitude.

Here are a few end of March updates:

Financial literacy: Zipped back to North York on Wednesday night to see Dan Bortolotti, of Canadian Couch Potato fame, speak at the Fairview Library. It was pretty cool and I’m glad I was able to catch the talk as I missed it last year while living in the far north. I need to go over some of his podcasts and look at my portfolio again. Thinking of shutting down Questrade as I want to consolidate what I’ve got to just two brokerages or roboadvisors. Speaking of money …

Transferring my pension to Ontario: Trying to transfer my Quebec pension over to Ontario Teacher’s Pension Plan. Argh, I got a rejection as my last school board has still not filed that I resigned. Super annoying. Will have to reapply in July.

Bartering and clothing ban: Still going strong 3 months into my clothing ban. I’m actually doing quite well as I’m managing to get new pieces every few weeks or so. Yes, it’s bit more effort to set up the trades, coordinate and run around for them, but I feel much better knowing that my carbon footprint is smaller. It’s also cool to meet other Torontonians that I might not normally cross paths with!

On Friday, I picked up an Old Navy plaid shirt that I’m head over heels with. My only complaint is that shoes are harder to find, but I’ve got a pair of boots waiting for me next month. I’ve made about half a dozen trades in the Kitchener-Waterloo area, but still mainly bartering, mainly in Toronto. Got myself a beautiful metal teapot and a lidded bucket to handwash some laundry (now I can stop using my salad bowl to wash my bras). Picked up a pair of Sailor Moon leggings for a friend.

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Shopping:
Bartering has become the equivalent of shopping. I don’t buy much these days but I love locally-produced sticker art. They’re affordable for a few dollars and this is a great way to support local artists. I picked up two stickers from Cry Wolf Clothing on Ossington, between Dundas and Queen West. One is a racoon, a.k.a, “trash panda”, sitting in a garbage can that says “City of Toronto”; I adhered it to my very banged-up Macbook Air. The second is “Turonno” in Blue Jays font, which I happily stuck to my bullet journal. You can take the girl out of Toronto, but you can’t take the Toronto out of the girl!

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Practice teaching: Still need to practice teaching a full yoga class. Hard for people to commit the time … sigh. Mainly been doing short lessons on hips, glutes and quads with friends and family. Last night, I even did a Skype session with my friend. It was a little awkward but hey, I wanna pass on what I can as I care about my friends’ health!

Not needing my therapist: If you followed me on Instagram earlier in the fall, you’ll know that I took on a counsellor/therapist. I was seeing her about once a month and we had a lot to discuss and sort out, especially how I approach my relationships. At this time, I’ve decided not to return to her. Our last session was good, but it made me realize how much more mentally strong I am since October. I don’t really have many stressors these days. I haven’t “broken up” with her or anything, but I haven’t booked any future appointments.

Family time: I made sure to spend some time with each of my family members. On Friday, my mom had lunch together. We do this about once a month. Took her to Golden Turtle off Ossington. I enjoyed some vegan bánh xèo, which is a Vietnamese crepe served as an appetizer. Looks like egg, but it’s not!

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First Yoga Class and Teacher Training Feedback

Taught my first yoga class last night at Queen Street Yoga, Kitchener, Ontario!

I had a 60-minute scripted class that I split with another colleague, L. She and I had met up twice over the past week and discussed our approaches. On Wednesday, we brought three friends together to practice our entire sequence in the studio and it helped us immensely. Our $5 Intro to Yoga class was a hit last night.

Normally, we could pack 12 people in the room but we were busting at the seems with 15 enthusiastic yogis. There were also 4 classmates, who wanted to come and support us. It was so nice to be embraced by the community. So much love!

Also, I’ve been working on a Google Form for teaching feedback. I asked a friend to fill it out when I went over my lesson on Wednesday. I had been planning on doing this early, but oh well …better late than never. Here’s a chunk of the form:

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If you’re interested in trying a (free) lesson with me, please let me know. I do need practice and I appreciate anyone who is willing to give me the energy and the time.

Becoming an Expert Yoga Teacher

I am in the fourth month of my yoga teacher training. Things are going well so far and I am trying to finish up some homework that’s due this weekend.

While browsing for some tips on wrist stretches, I accidentally came across this on YouTube. You may have heard of JP Sears; he is – in real live – an actual yoga teacher but has made his name as a comedian on YouTube. This video had me in stitches!!

November Update

Lots of life updates. Here we go ….

Yoga Teacher Training: I won’t write so much here. I tend to microblog important notes on Cody, since that’s where other people discuss anatomy and yoga with me. Otherwise, this is the third weekend and it’s going well. The studio director, L., spoke with me privately yesterday. She knows that I have been feeling going through an emotional rough patch (still dealing with my break-up), but at the end of the night, she told me that she’s very glad to have me in the program and in Waterloo. It was really sweet and it meant a lot to me.

Also, can you spot which one I am?

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Accepting compliments: I used to struggle with accepting compliments and brush them off / deny / deflect. Over the years, as I spotted this behaviour, I worked on it. I am better at receiving them, which includes simply looking at the person who said it, smiling and saying thank you.

As I’d mentioned above, the director gave me a HUGE compliment last night. Today, I also got several compliments. 1) The (same) yoga director said that she liked my pineapple tank top, which was nice on a cloudy and dreary day, 2) a classmate that I ate lunch with said that I was smart, attractive and charming and lastly, 3) another peer said that my teaching instructions were spot on and that I was a natural at it! Internally, I can still have difficulty accepting these as truths, but I want to embrace that this means I am valued and worthy, which isn’t a feeling that’s consistent when you are living in a new place and still trying to make new friends.

Occasional Teaching: Hard to believe but I’ve already hit the minimum 20 days I need to apply for the LTO list next year. So far, I’ve worked about 30 days. I took this week off as a much needed mental health break. I only worked a 0.5 on Thursday. And that’s fine. No need to shame myself for taking a break.

Career options: On Friday, I went to EdTalent, which is an annual job conference held in Toronto by Apply to Education. I got a chance to say hello to the Cree School Board and chat with my friend, E., who is now a vice-principal. We gabbed for 15 minutes and it was really nice just to say hi to a friend. But I still have wanderlust that will never ever die, and after sticking around Canada for 5 years – yes, I did travel during the holidays – I still want to go somewhere. I spoke with a few UK agencies. They will do anything as short as one month but I was considering a 2-month term.

Reading: One of the optional books to read for Yoga Teacher Training, is The Gifts of ImperfectionBe compassionate with yourself, according to Brene Brown. As I’d mention above, shaming myself for taking a mental health break is not productive. I used to do it but I don’t anymore. Over the past 4 years while working in the north, I took days if I wasn’t physically sick but was emotionally overwhelmed and needed a recharge.

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Employment Insurance: I need to apply for EI for Christmas! My classmate, N., tipped me off as she also works for the same school board. She said you can often get more money from EI than a summer job.

Financing my car: I paid off my car in 52 months, instead of 5 years! This is 8 months ahead of schedule as I threw several years of tax returns at the balance. I am feeling very proud about this! It helps too as I’m not making very much money right now.

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Meditations on the Mat

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One of my favourite bedtime books is Meditations on the Mat, by Rolf Gates. It was gifted to me by Sarah last year. This passage really spoke to me recently, as I’ve been struggling to find a consistent yoga practice over the past couple of months. I’m coming back to it already, as the sun comes out more often and the weather is warming up.

Enjoy.

Day 88

Each step forward in her practice is a step inward. To practice yoga is to draw ever closer to the truth. As we learn to relax into our truth, moment by moment, breath by breath, posture by posture, the need for pretense starts to fall away. We find out we are shedding the layers of armor we’ve created to protect the false self we present to the world. But as the armor falls away, we are confronted by the old fears that create the armor in the first place and that has held it in position for so long.

Chances are we will be unaware of the moment when we shed a layer of armor. We may simply wake up one day to find that an old fear has reared its head, or that it seems harder to get to our mat, and harder still to attend to the other aspects of our practice. Suddenly, chocolate chip cookies and Haagen-Dazs are on the menu, gossip fills an hour of the day, and an unhealthy relationship appears more attractive. At such times it’s important to understand that a resurgence of old behavior often accompanies growth, that such regressions are, in fact, signs that we are drawing near to the truth. We see this in the stories of Jesus and the Buddha. Both men were beset by their demons even as they moved unerringly towards their Dharma. And both were able to meet their challenges and move on. Their lives are universal examples of the human potential for growth. We all share this potential, and we awaken it each time we practice. Confronting the fears we encounter along the way is an aspect of the practice itself. As a darkness of our fears is dispelled, we become like the angel in Paulo Coelho’s tale. Our eyes are filled with the light of love, the love that is ever-present beneath all the temporal, earthly loves.

When we do feel lost or uncertain drifting away from our practice, blocked from our own truth, it helps to remember that darkness and confusion, too, are part of the path. The hero’s journey is a journey inward. Yoga is not a work out, it is a work in. In the Tao Te Ching, we read that the only real movement is return. And this is the point of spiritual practice: to make us teachable, to open our hearts and focus our awareness so that we can know what we already know, and be who we already are.