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Leading You Gently Back to Yourself by Kate Geresy

 

Written by Former YS Assistant, Kate Geresy

Major life changes are usually marked as “before-said change” and “after-said change.” What it was like before I graduated, what it was like after I graduated. Life before I got married, life after I got married.

For me, there is life before YogaSport (YS) and life after YS.

You know those teenage years when you thought you knew it all? I had “those adult years.” I kept my head down, worked hard, was oft commented on how “mature” I am or told “that girl has her head on straight.” These aren’t bad characteristics, but as Goethe said, “by nature we have no defect that could not become a strength, no strength that could not become a defect.” My strengths, while wonderful for overall life functionality, were limitations for growth within. I had myself figured out. I was of the opinion that this girl (me) had gotten herself pretty far so you can take that life coaching to someone else who was in shambles because that girl ain’t me (said with all the Southern sass you can imagine).

What I wasn’t prepared for was to have my rump handed back to me through bending myself into funky poses and purchasing colorful leggings. I kid—but in all seriousness, I was not prepared for the depths of exploration that yoga, assisting and teacher training call upon. There is certainly much learnt from the basics of alignment and healthy movement, but what is being gifted from those around you and that rectangular piece of foam extends far beyond the basics. I was a resident workshop junkie at YS. This was not because I discovered I actually was a mess in need of dire coaching or because I was not good enough at yoga (can that even be possible?).

I kept attending workshop after workshop because the tools provided for self-inquiry were so plentiful and even more so because finding a community that genuinely encourages this pursuit of growth and betterment is so rare. You could say “the final step” is teacher training. I plunged in because I knew with such veracity that there was no other place I trusted with this education and I wanted to share how deeply I loved what I was learning from others and myself. I wanted to share what was possible with others and have the honor to experience even a portion of their journeys with them.

While it felt like the final step, in reality, it was only the beginning of the realm of possibilities available to me. There are pieces of my personality that long laid dormant until teacher training; there is so much integrity from that rawness. Life has changed all around me and through TT I learned we are always growing, we always begin again. The hope I have is that I greet each new beginning with more grace, humility and mindfulness than ever before.

I didn’t think it could happen twice from such an unsuspecting source but, alas, there is “life before teacher training,” and “life after teacher training.”

“Perhaps love is the process of my leading you gently back to yourself.” –Antoine de Saint-Exupery

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Seeing Past The Stereotype

Written by YS Instructor, Jenny Mizutowicz
Take Jenny’s class on Friday at 5:30 pm.

I haven’t always wanted to be a yoga teacher. To be honest, before I started practicing yoga, I assumed yoga was for skinny vegetarians who were way more flexible than I’d ever be. I thought of yoga teachers as full-time instructors who could contort their bodies into pretzels and loved Kombucha. If this is what it took to be a yogi, I’d never fit in.

Despite my preconceptions, I came to YogaSport via a friend’s suggestion in 2009. I had been casually taking yoga classes for about a year in Austin, and I fell in love with the physical nature of the Baptiste practice. My body craved the workout and I returned several times a week for a powerful, sweaty flow. The more I practiced and got involved within the studio, the larger role yoga started playing in my life. I began to apply the anecdotes and metaphors the teachers talked about in class to my own life. I started to understand the connection between breathing through difficult postures in class and reacting to stressful situations in life. I wanted to stop complaining so much. I wanted to stop being judgmental. I wanted to accept myself and be confident. I loved this practice, and I wanted more of it.

About a year or so into my practice, I began considering teacher training with Angela at YogaSport. I knew I would enjoy teaching yoga, but insecurity was holding me back and making me believe I wasn’t cut out for it. My asana was far from perfect; I could barely get up in crow, much less headstand. I didn’t have the type of body the yogis on the cover of Yoga Journal rocked. I didn’t have a daily mediation practice (Daily? Let’s be honest, I had never meditated). I ate burgers and drank beer; surely yoga teachers wouldn’t be down with that. I wasn’t the stereotypical yoga teacher, and that made me believe I couldn’t be a yoga teacher at all.

Stereotypes are superficial beliefs formed upon an oversimplified idea, and they are oftentimes way wrong. Despite my acknowledgement of this, I had fallen into the trap of using generalizations to make sense of the world. I was allowing a silly stereotype to influence my decision and make me feel insecure.

I struggled with this belief for nearly two years until one day I hastily decided I was going to do it anyway. I apprehensively submitted my application for the Summer 2012 YogaSport Yoga School class, and before I knew it, I was sitting in a room with 11 other yogis, absolutely none of whom I would have considered a stereotypical yoga teacher.

My class consisted of people of different ages, genders and body types. Some had advanced yoga practices, and others were merely beginners. Some could tear up a Meat Lovers pizza, others preferred a veggie option. There was nothing stereotypical about this group of yogis; they were a diverse group of people with one thing in common: they loved yoga. As the summer progressed and I got to know Angela and my classmates, I discovered that the yoga teacher stereotype was a myth. You don’t have to be skinny, flexible or adhere to any particular lifestyle in order to share this practice with others. You just have to be yourself.

Three years after completing teacher training and teaching classes at YogaSport, I can now do headstand, but I’ll probably die before I master forearm stand. I’m not a Size 0 and never will be. I still enjoy burgers and imbibe a sensible amount of beer. I work a full-time government job during the day. I’m still me, but guess what? I’m now a yoga teacher, too.

Since completing teacher training in 2012, I am physically and mentally healthier than before. I am stronger and have a comprehensive understanding of how exercise affects my anatomy. I am more confident and comfortable in my own skin, and I’ve developed a heightened sense of awareness of my reactions and how to control them. Yoga has transformed me into a more present and mature adult, one that can now see past the shallowness of a stereotype.

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How I Became an Imagination Pusher

Written by YS Instructor, Shoshannah Frank

It is interesting how the road begins to twist and turn when you think you are headed on a straight path. My journey into teacher training began solely as a personal journey, I was on a quest for knowledge in my own personal practice and had no intention of ever teaching. I said the same thing when I took assistant training and by the time I signed up for teacher training in 2012, I had been on the floor as an assistant for three years.

You could say that I am a constant work in progress, well aren’t we all, and I have been in therapy the majority of my life. When I started teacher training I knew that I would be able to delve deeper into different aspects of yoga, but I had no idea that the most meaningful and extraordinary take away would be a greater sense of self. Years of negative self talk and feeling of inadequacy had left me broken in many ways. Teacher training provided me with tools to come face to face with those feelings when they begin to creep in, because they will, and discern what is truth and what is a lie I tell myself. For me the training was deep, it was scary, painful at times yet it was the best thing I ever did for myself. My therapist agrees. It is interesting how learning about yourself and being open to new discovery is actually an important part of being a good yoga teacher.

Learning to actually teach was challenging, frustrating at times, but exciting as well. Just like being open to self discovery, it was important for me to be open to feedback from our teachers and other trainees in order for me to grow and move past the self-criticism in my head. I was not great, I was actually pretty boring at first I found that learning to teach yoga does not come naturally to most. Learning to not take it personally and use it as something to work on was a great lesson outside of the studio as well.

One of my favorite take aways from the training is that even though we all seem so different on the outside, we actually have so much in common. We are all full of insecurities, we all have fears and goals, we all have lessons to learn and lesson to teach. You may not like everyone, but you can learn from everyone and every experience. I made some dear friends in my class; people I now celebrate the ups with and lean on in the downs.

I decided to teach because I just thought that it was the next thing to do. It scared the crap out of me and I genuinely do not like being on a stage. Eventually you learn teaching really is not about you. I continue to teach because I think I can provide an interesting point of view. I do not think linearly all the time, I often teach asana using color, shape, rap songs, or food. I am now a firm believer on how things feel as opposed to how things look. My imagination is the key to the deepest part of my practice and I want to enhance the use of imagination in my classes for those who get it and expose it to those who don’t. I was once told that using your imagination to connect your mind and your heart will allow your soul to shine. Who does not want that?! Not everyone is going to like me as a teacher or maybe even as a person but teacher training made me ok with that. Well, it finally sunk in over time. I leave you with something I wrote to the teachers of YS in October of 2013 about a year after I started teaching at YS…

Before I went to Level 1 Teacher Training with Baron Baptiste, people would ask me if I loved teaching yoga. I was hesitant to answer because the answer was “No” but I knew that was not the answer they wanted to hear. I would just reply, “I am still getting used to it.” When I went to level one people asked me why was I there. I had to think about that answer, other than give the quick answer of “I had paid for it moons ago.” Soon my response became “to see if teaching is something I really want to do or is something others want me to do.” Honestly when I got on the plane to go that was not even a developed thought. I did not leave Arizona with an answer.

If you had asked me that question this morning, about a year after I started teaching, I would probably still have to give a dodgy response. There was nothing special about my class tonight, it was not full and the energy was not overflowing. My practice, in my body, although beautifully taught by my dear Christopher Roberson, was not mind-blowing. But as I drove home tonight, I heard myself say “I love teaching yoga.” It was in my head but it was so loud I am sure you heard it.

I am sure that this feeling will ebb and flow just like all things in life and that’s ok, but there will never again be the FIRST time I said “I love teaching yoga!” As Baron would say I am **astonished** ( insert spirit fingers.) Thank you for being my support team on and off the mat.

Shannah Frank, Imagination Pusher
YSYS graduate 2012

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The Hot Mess by Christopher Roberson

Written by YS Instructor Alum, Christopher Roberson

My life was a hot mess for most of my 20’s. And when I say ‘hot’,  I don’t mean sweaty vinyasa. My personal, financial and social life were all in a constant state of chaos fueled by impulsive and dramatic decision making. In 2008 I tested positive for HIV. Suddenly life felt more fragile. The consequences of an impulsive life seemed more real and heartfelt than before. The thought of not making it through the next hurdle woke me up and I found a different path. I started eating better. I began reaching for a glass of water instead of another 32 ounces of Dr. Pepper. I went to the gym. I started treating my life like something I wanted, and not just something I had. I began to build confidence in myself. It was at this pivotal nexus in my life that I discovered yoga.

What a discovery it was. Initially I kept going back because it was hard…like…’has this lady has lost her damn mind’ hard. Over the next few months my practice began to shift. Yes, I still worked too hard. And yes, I couldn’t NOT pay attention to what everyone else was doing…but when I got up off my mat, I felt something different. Or maybe a better way to put it is that I felt less. I felt less chaos. Less anxiety. I found myself considering consequences before acting. I felt like there was time to consider my reactions before I let them burn down bridges and spark conflict with the pharmacist at Walgreens (did I mention my impatience?).

For two more years I practiced. I breathed. My life started to take new form. My relationships blossomed. The importance of yoga became clearly realized and at this point it became something I yearned to share. On a whim one day I walked into YogaSport because I saw a sign. Not some metaphorical epiphany…but like…an actual sign. I had driven by the building hundreds of times and never noticed it till this day. The studio owner, Angela, greeted me at the door and I immediately asked about teacher training. I was all in after taking my first Baptiste class with Angela. It worked in my body. It gelled in my brain. THIS. This was what I was missing. I wanted to be able to speak like the instructors here. I wanted to share seemingly trivial parts of my life but in a way that could mean something to others. I wanted to be a part of this community and for the community to be a part of me.

Teacher training started soon after and to be quite honest I thought it would be a walk in the park. I thought I would walk in, be awesome, and go home. Well, it turned out that teaching yoga is hard. It’s hard in all the ways I didn’t expect. It didn’t matter how strong my practice was. My physical strength didn’t show me how to connect with my students. My ego didn’t help me share what frustration feels like on the mat and how to over come it. All of the things that I thought would make me the best didn’t mean a thing if I wasn’t willing to be vulnerable.

The next few months I shared. I opened up my insecurities to my teaching group. I cried more in a week than I had most of my adult life. I began to see people outside of the lens of my own needs and wants. I got better at not being great. The hundreds of little things I learned in teacher training led to the big changes I needed after I thought my life had fallen apart. Today I look back at where I started, and where I see myself now. I scan the room of bodies before each class and I am thankful to be in the studio, surrounded by amazing and unique people who are all willing to be present and ready to sweat and breathe with me. Today when I think to myself: ‘Damn, I’m a hot mess’…it’s because my blue hair die ran down my face during a particularly rewarding yoga class and I forgot to pack extra clothes for the ride home.

…and I wouldn’t change a thing.

10 Questions To Ask When Considering Yoga Teacher Training (And Our Answers)

 

These days there are so many options for yoga teacher training. It can be a confusing decision, and we cannot tell you how many students come to us for training because they are disappointed in the program they chose. Not all programs are created equal, even though you will get the same 200 hour certificate at the end of each. Teacher training is a big investment of your time, money and energy, so it’s important to spend some time researching programs to see which is the right fit for you.

1. How much time do you spend in the classroom with your teacher(s)? Under Yoga Alliance standards, a 200 hour program must have a minimum of 180 classroom hours. Look at the programs you are interested in and do the math on how long you actually meet as a group. We have seen programs that only meet for 100 hours which means you are getting 80 less hours of teaching and coaching. Some programs claim to give you those unlisted hours in practicum form. This is code for non-contact hours which means you aren’t spending this time with your teacher(s). While it might be tempting to go for a program with less hours, trust us when we tell you that you will need and want all 180 + hours in order to feel confident that you can teach when you leave the program. And remember, lunch and dinner breaks don’t count! At YSYS, Angela and her team meet with you for 186 classroom hours.

2. What format is the training? In general, there are three types of formats.
a. Modular – A modular style training allows you to sign up for different modules which eventually add up to a 200 hour cert. Benefits – Financially, it can be easier because you can spread out the payments according to your schedule. You can also do the program over a longer period of time. Challenges – It may take a long time to get certified, the modules you want may not be offered often, and you will not go through the program with a dedicated group of trainees.

b. Intensive – An intensive is usually no longer than four months and can be as short as two weeks. Benefits – You get to know your classmates and create a tight-knit community of support. Also, you will complete your cert fairly quickly. Challenges – You will spend a lot of time reading, studying, and practice teaching throughout the intensive.

c. Extended – This type of training usually meets about once a month. Benefits – Just like the intensive, you get to know your classmates and form a camaraderie. You will have more time to study and complete assignments. Challenges – It will take longer to get your cert, and students can sometimes lose momentum when they don’t meet on a regular basis.

None of these formats are better or worse than another, but it’s important to understand your learning style and what works best for you. YSYS is offered in an intensive format because, in our experience, it helps students stay focused and supported. In our 200 hr program, we have a drop rate of 0%.

3. What type of materials will you receive and use? Does the program offer a comprehensive manual that will guide your training and provide you with a life-long reference? Ask to see the manual (if there is one) and the required reading list before signing up. At YSYS, your training includes Angela’s trademarked manual with photos of each asana and assist, along with guidelines for timing your class and sequencing postures. Come to an informational session to get a sneak peak at our required texts.

4. How much practice teaching will we do? Many trainings talk about how to teach, but don’t actually have their trainees teach very much at all. While it might seem scary to spend a lot of time practice teaching, it is essential to your success as a future teacher. Ask how often you will be practice teaching while receiving feedback from an experienced instructor. At YSYS, you will spend every weekend practice teaching (a lot!), and you will receive personal coaching from Angela and her team as well as voice coaching from a professional voice coach.

5. How much anatomy will I learn? It’s important that your program meet the minimum requirement for anatomy, which is 20 hours (a minimum of 10 in the classroom) with an anatomy expert. We have heard of trainings where there is little to no time spent on learning the anatomy of the body. Find out what anatomy books are used, who teaches this section, and how it is integrated into training to help students understand their bodies. In Angela’s opinion as an experienced teacher, 10 hours is not nearly enough. You need to understand how the human body works in order to teach people how to properly move in yoga. Your students will assume you have vast knowledge in this area.  At YSYS, you will receive 18 hours of expert anatomy training from a specialist and will practice teaching proper alignment and injury prevention. In addition, anatomy principles and alignment are taught during the asana and assisting portions of the program.

6. What style of yoga will I learn? This is one of the most important questions to ask. Go to the director’s classes and see if the style is something you want to learn. Be wary of trainings that don’t clearly define what they are teaching and try to be a training of all styles. You will need to be focused on one style in order to be a strong teacher in that style. Once you complete your 200 hour cert, you can take additional trainings to learn other forms of yoga. At YSYS, you will be trained in Power Flow Yoga by a Baptiste Certified Instructor. 

7. Who are the teachers and how long have they been teaching/training? Do some research on the teachers of the program and how much experience they have in teaching and training.  Also, be sure that you like the energy and style of the lead teachers because you will be spending a lot of time with them. At YSYS, our director has been teaching since 2002 and training since 2006.  We also have a vetted team of experts including anatomy experts, an OBGYN and voice coach. Get to know our TT staff here. 

8. What else will I learn besides physical asana? Often trainings have additional components such as hands-on assisting, the history of yoga, kids yoga, energy work, voice coaching and personal development. Find out what else the training has to offer and if it’s something you are excited about. YSYS is known for its emphasis on personal development and physical assists. 

9. What is the average class size? Trainings can range from 2-100+ people per class, so it’s important to know what to expect from the training school. Smaller classes allow for more personal attention and coaching, which is invaluable when you are learning a new craft. At YSYS, a typical training has 10-16 participants which means you will interact closely with your teacher and your peers and receive lots of personalized coaching. Because of this, we fill our trainings quickly.

10. What is the price? While important, we suggest that this is the last question you should be asking. 200 hour trainings are generally between $2500-$4200. Don’t just pick the cheapest training because you very often get what you pay for. A quality program with quality teachers will cost more, but the difference in instruction that you will receive is invaluable. If you skimp on your yoga education, you’ll regret it! Weigh the answers to all of the other questions suggested here in addition to cost. At YSYS, we are generally right in the middle of the current pricing trends. Check the TT page for current tuition prices and payment plan options.

How Teacher Training at YS Changed Me For Good

Written by Shannon Sliva
Shannon has been our YS soul sister since 2007. In 2015, she moved to Denver to become a Bad-Ass Professor but she promises to visit often. 

When I signed up for teacher training at YogaSport in the spring of 2012, my goal was to learn more about the tradition of yoga and my personal practice. It is safe to say that the program surpassed my wildest expectations. In truth, teacher training with Angela turned out to be the first major step in a life-changing journey to meet my best self.

Before you quickly click the link below to sign up, let me tell you what teacher training is not. It is not easy. It is hard work, physically, mentally, and emotionally. During some weekends, you will practice for hours on end, coaxing your tired body into yet another wheel to support your classmates in their growth. During others, you will scribble volumes of notes on anatomical terms like flexion, extension, lordosis, and kurtosis, and scratch out diagrams of the individual muscles of the rotator cuff. You will delve into your thought patterns and – sometimes painfully – extract emotional and spiritual roadblocks from your path to personal freedom and authentic relationships with others. While there is joy to be found in each of these processes, it will not always feel joyful and light. The joy comes later, like a blissful savasana at the end of a challenging, gut-wrenching practice.

When I started teacher training, I was mostly unaware of how much my need to be perfect was limiting my growth and development. If you too like to be good at everything, perhaps you can imagine how challenging it was for me to place myself in the shoes of a total beginner when I entered the training. I was frozen by fear and self-doubt. As I identified the roots of my mental blocks and pushed through physical and emotional barriers with the guidance of my teacher and the support of my classmates, my fear of failure was slowly overcome by courage, authenticity, and self-belief. I did not know what to say, but I said something anyway. I did not know how to do it right, but I did something

anyway. For me, this was a gradual but revolutionary shift which awakened a hidden part of myself that I barely knew existed. (Click here to read a blog post I wrote on this subject during training)The magic of this process is that it was not limited to my journey as a yoga teacher. In my work and in my relationships, I am more open, adventurous, and flexible. I speak and interact more authentically. I am less afraid of my mistakes. I feel bold, capable, and connected with what I have to offer. I laugh louder (or so I’m told).

While many things other than my teacher training at YogaSport have contributed to this ongoing transformation, it was through that initial process that I first invited a colorful, resonant tide of energy and movement into my life. If you are seeking a shift of some kind – even if you don’t yet know what it is – I invite you to join me on this beautiful journey.

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Assisting L2 Weekend – What You Need to Know

Welcome !

Shannon & AngelaWe are SO excited you are joining us for Empowered Assisting Level Two! Get ready to have a ton of fun, deepen your Power Vinyasa practice and experience yoga from an entirely different perspective.

Here’s what you need to know for this weekend:

SCHEDULE:
Saturday 9am-6pm
Sunday 9am-6pm
Bottom Line: Get lots of rest!

CLASSES: We will start the program at 9am on Saturday. From 9-10:30am you will be taking the Empower Flow class. Our assistant Team Lead, Evelyn, and Brian Lam from Boston (master assistant extraordinaire!)  will be assisting so enjoy! After class, quickly change clothes (into more yoga clothes, of course), and meet in the Zen Den for a morning chat session.
Bottom Line: Be prepared to assist and practice a lot.

CLOTHES: Bring LOTS of yoga clothes. You must change clothes after you practice or assist a practice. Each day, bring two extra pairs of yoga clothes in addition to what you wear in the morning and layer so you are prepared for any temperature. Trust us when we say it’s better to have more dry clothes than less, and you will want to change into dry clothes for the drive home.
Bottom Line: DO LAUNDRY tonight!

FOOD: Bring food and snacks throughout the weekend. Please pack your food in a mini-cooler or bag so you can store it in our lobby. We do not have fridge space. You will need to bring lunch and snacks on Saturday and Sunday. You will not have enough time to leave YS for meals. For snacks – bars, nuts, fruit, etc are great options Also, bring lots of water and electrolytes. We sell Ultima and coconut water which are ideal options for hydration.
Bottom Line: You will need to bring nutritious fuel Saturday and Sunday.

MAT/TOWELS/WATER: You will get level two handouts on Saturday. If you have gone through YSYS teacher training and/or Level 1 Empowered Assisting, please bring your previous manual. Bring a pen, your yoga mat, yogitoes (or a large towel) and water each day, in addition to two hand towels for assisting.
Bottom Line: We provide the knowledge, you provide your own equipment.

If you have any questions about the weekend, please don’t hesitate to email our fabulous manager, Nicole Esquino, at nicole@yogasportdallas.com.

Namaste,
Angela

Empowered Assisting Level 1 – What You Need to Know!

Welcome new assistants-in-training!

We are SO excited you are joining us for Empowered Assisting Level One! Get ready to have a ton of fun, deepen your Power Vinyasa practice and experience yoga from an entirely different perspective.

Here’s what you need to know for this weekend:

SCHEDULE:
Friday 5:30-9:30pm
Saturday 9am-6pm
Sunday 9am-6:30pm
Teacher Assistant Program (TAP) Info Meeting 6:30-7:00pm (This meeting is mandatory if you are interested in learning about/becoming a YS Assistant)
Bottom Line: Get lots of rest!

CLASSES: We will start the program at 5:30pm on Friday. From 5:30-6:30pm you will be taking the Hour of Power class. Three of our lovely assistants will be assisting so pay attention to them as this will be your first introduction to assisting! After class, quickly change clothes (into more yoga clothes, of course), bring your dinner into the studio and be ready for anything! On Saturday, you will take one of the morning classes and assist the training group during the other. You will also assist and/or practice Sunday at 9am and 4pm.
Bottom Line: Be prepared to assist and practice a lot.

CLOTHES: Bring LOTS of yoga clothes. You must change clothes after you practice or assist a practice. Each day, bring two extra pairs of yoga clothes in addition to what you wear in the morning and layer so you are prepared for any temperature. Trust us when we say it’s better to have more dry clothes than less, and you will want to change into dry clothes for the drive home.
Bottom Line: DO LAUNDRY tonight!

FOOD: Bring food and snacks throughout the weekend. Please pack your food in a mini-cooler or bag so you can store it in our lobby. We do not have fridge space. We suggest bringing dinner Friday night, lunch on Saturday and lots of snacks on Sunday. You will not have enough time to leave YS for meals. For snacks – bars, nuts, fruit, etc are great options Also, bring lots of water and electrolytes. We sell Ultima and coconut water which are ideal options for hydration.
Bottom Line: You will need to bring nutritious fuel Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

MAT/TOWELS/WATER: You will get a fancy manual on Friday. If you are in teacher training, the assisting manual is part of your manual so bring it with you. Bring a pen, your yoga mat, yogitoes (or a large towel) and water each day, in addition to two hand towels for assisting.
Bottom Line: We provide the knowledge, you provide your own equipment.

If you have any questions about the weekend, please don’t hesitate to email us at info@yogasportdallas.com.

Namaste,
Team YS

My Life as a Carnival Mirror

By YS Instructor, Christopher Roberson

 

There is this version of ourselves that we see when we look into a mirror. What we see reflected back at us can range from strictly superficial things like hair, skin, and smile, to a deeper, more personal view of ourselves as human beings.

Over the last few years I have begun to realize that the image I see in the mirror, where I brush my teeth and comb my hair, feels more like a carnival mirror. In this reflection, proportions are exaggerated, distorted, and any semblance to myself is nearly absent.

The carnival mirror has become a metaphor for my social behavior and the way in which I replicate and exaggerate the behavior of others.

I recall waking up many a morning overwhelmed with a heavy feeling of regret sitting on my chest. Who was that guy last night? He put on my clothes, wore my face, but didn’t represent the values and standards that I want for myself.

In an effort to fit in, I worked too hard to reflect the thoughts, energy, and attitudes of those around me. But in true “Christopher” form, I took what I experienced in others and exaggerated it three-fold. Throw me in a room with a slightly narcissistic and hedonistic variety of people, and suddenly, I became an “If you don’t have something nice to say, come stand by me” kind of guy.

I wasn’t content simply following the lead of others, and I often found myself disproportionately mirroring the energy and flaws of the people around me. This way of being became a mask I wore to absolve myself of responsibility for my behavior, as well as the effect this behavior has on others.

In the moment, it was hilarious to be rude, to make fun of my friends, and to talk shit about people who under any other circumstance I held in high regard. I justified that being catty and sarcastic was part of my cultural connection and sociological response to those around me.

This realization was a necessary step towards redefining who I see when I take a long hard look at myself, and how I can sometimes behave. Part of this process of growth was saturating myself in a community whose values I admire. Thus, emerging myself in the yoga community helped me find ways to create the change I needed for myself.

YogaSport, primarily, has been a welcoming community where smiles and honest connections are in no short supply. I have been fortunate enough to surround myself with people whom I admire, and strive daily to adopt traits that I appreciate in the people around me. It’s in this transition that I have realized that I am the company that I keep, so keeping better company has become a necessity to living the life I want to live.

My struggle is still constant, and I acknowledge that this process of growth is always in a state of flux, but now when I look at who I am, I like what I see.

Lost… Destination, Discover…

By YS Teacher, Morgan Martindale

Have you ever heard of the term boomerang? A boomerang is someone who leaves a job, only to come back to it later. I have a friend who is a boomerang. He started a new job, didn’t like it; went back to his old job and is now miserable.

My friend works in marketing; he has worked in marketing pretty much since graduating college. He believes you have to follow a certain path, ultimately leading to a “big brand” – the pinnacle of what it is to be a marketer. Working for a big brand means you get to work on “big” budgets and “big” projects and “big” ad agencies…that is the goal. Ultimately, my friend who got his one shot to work for a big “brand” didn’t like what he was doing, quit and went back to his old job. Now he is lost; he doesn’t know where to go from here. He feels he made a major mistake and is struggling to find out how to get back on track. He continually looks for jobs, hoping to get that shot again. I keep telling him that he is where he is supposed to be. He is supposed to be in his current job…he isn’t supposed to be in the job he quit. He never believes me when I tell him this. He believes he made a huge mistake and feels like the chances of getting another shot will be few and far between.

This brings us to what Melody Bettie wrote in her book, Journey to the Heart:
“You are where you need to be, on your path, guided, in just the right place for you today. We have a path, a map, even if our eyes and conscious mind can’t see it, can’t figure it out, or aren’t certain it’s there.” That is tough to hear, in such a raw and vulnerable state, but these feelings are part of being alive.

My friend is now trying new things. He is opening his eyes to experiencing life in a new way. Sometimes you just have to say “YES”! When you feel lost, the best thing to do is try different things, improve yourself and shift your vision. My friend noticed when riding his bike outdoors, he could escape his feelings. Also, he is now taking yoga and that is something he would never, ever have done before!

Yoga can be a good workout, but getting to the mat and practicing can be so much more if you are willing to be open to the opportunity for more. Our practice allows us to face our feelings head on. Be open to what the Universe holds. Open your eyes in a new way, a better way, to begin shedding the layers to your best, truest self.

Yes, boomerangs are objects that come back to their initial starting point. And though my friend is still unhappy with the outcome of his decision, he understands that just like a boomerang this gives him another opportunity to start over, and try again, and be better now and in the future.