I just read the monthly e-letter from Betsy Rippentrop, PhD, a yoga teacher and psychologist with a studio and practice in Iowa City called Heartland Yoga, from whom I’ve had the pleasure of learning a couple of times. She is just finishing up a six-week break that she gave herself permission to take. (Wait, what?!)
And it’s funny – just this morning I awoke with the urge to write. Writing blog posts, poetry and other musings is something I used to do a lot of, an exercise of skill and emotion that I really miss as it seems to take a back seat to everything else in my life. And I wanted to focus on the little break I’ve given myself this summer – one that doesn’t compare to six weeks, but still….
For the past four years, I’ve been teaching yoga five, six, seven times a week – gladly and with great joy. Well, gladly and joyfully nearly all the time; I’m human after all. Now, teaching a yoga class may seem like just an hour out of your day, right? As any teacher of any skill or passion will tell you, there is ohsomuchmore that goes into the teaching of just one hour - at least an hour, and often more, prep time per class. Since completing my R.Y.T. in early 2013, I’ve taught over 1,000 hours, plus taken additional training which adds up to a heckuvalotta time, well, working.
Maybe what brought this to the front of my mind this morning is the opportunity we’re giving to one of our students – one currently enrolled in yoga teacher training – to teach a few classes at Your Core Being. Practice teaching is an important part of any yoga teacher training program, and I am happy to be able to provide the studio, the students and maybe a little guidance, to this student. It is also front of mind, perhaps, because we will be following up on the YogaFit (an international teacher training organization) Level 1 yoga teacher training by hosting Level 2 training early next year which gives a couple of our teachers and regional community members the opportunity to study and train “in the neighborhood”.
And so, I’ve been mentally waxing philosophic and nostalgic on what it means to teach yoga – and further, what it means to train in the art and science, theory and philosophy of yoga. As I look back over the last ten years or so, I see that I have devoted many, many, many hours of time and energy to the practice of yoga. Hours learning for myself and hours learning to lead others. Hours reading, pondering, questioning and understanding. Hours and hours moving my body, challenging my physical and emotional senses, learning what works and what doesn’t for me and how that might apply to others. And still more hours of study, in meditation, in silent contemplation, of the texts of the Yoga Sutras and of the Bhagavad Gita, of yoga’s eight limbs, of what yoga really is. (nope, it isn’t just those poses!)
Since about April or May of this year, I have found myself with the blues too often – low energy, listlessness, poor sleeping (OK, that’s sorta normal for me!), feeling weepy and alone. And it seemed to me that maybe I was sapping a lotta my own good juicy mojo by offering up so much of it in classes and private lessons. Maybe it was time for me to take a break and get the juices flowing again.
Have you noticed? I’m down to two to four classes per week, and of late, even fewer with vacation time and other schedule conflicts. I have been blessed with teachers who have willingly taken on some of my classes for the summer, and I’m beginning to feel my head rising above the anxious clouds into sunshine and blue skies. I notice I’ve been spending more time thinking of new ways to teach, new ideas to bring to the studio, new offerings to present that don’t rely on my physical presence in the studio but rather draws in other talents and passions. In the long run, that’ll be good for all of us. Teacher, and students.
But I’ve also felt this nagging sense of being out of place – I sit so gladly on the teacher’s mat that now that I’m there much less, I am missing it terribly – missing the students, the challenges met, the emotion released, the solitude felt, the peace attained. Missing how I feel when, after Savasana, I recite an evocative poem or passage from one of my favorite books, bringing everyone back to their own mind, body and spirit. I miss the movement – my body has needed a physical break to be sure – but it’s been nudging me to get back on the mat and move!
My schedule will continue to evolve, as will the studio and the Sangha we’ve created. I think it’s a great truism that rest is necessary for growth, for healing, for insights. I’m gaining a little of each of those in this bit of rest I’ve given myself this summer. A six-week break? Well, that might be a ways off yet!