Catching Up with the Runaway Train

School years are like cross-country train journeys.

Both follow a particular route, on a schedule at a fairly predictable pace. 

The typical school year looks like this: 

183 days of work {180 with kids}

New students every August {who you hardly recognize until January}

Professional development trainings {with varying degrees of usefulness}

Staff meetings {no comment}

Refining best practices {making the already good teaching better that is kind of painful in the process, but worth the effort}

A bunch of fun activities at the end-of-the-year {well, fun for the students}

Post high stakes testing, both students and teachers exhale.

Then we continue the job of teaching and learning at a much more relaxed pace until the last bell rings on the final day of school much like a train finally chugging into the last depot at the end of a long journey.

By mid-May, we’re starting to look toward closing out the year:

Completing report cards

Adding some ink to the permanent records 

Spending some time outside {go egg drop, field day, track meet, water play day!}

 Finally learning some science and maybe even doing some art.

I start talking more about how long we’ve been together and how much they’re going to miss me I’m going to miss them when they move to fourth grade.

Except this year was different.

Instead of winding down and closing up shop, we experienced a lot of changes, mostly at the administrative level.

Serious stuff.

Stuff one needed to pay attention to, but I can’t help but feel a bit like my long journey on my predictable train was hijacked my the time bandits and my even-paced end-of-the-year calendar filled up with meeting after important meeting.

I was left feeling quite disoriented.

Today is finally the last day of our long journey.

I’m looking forward to the downtime and battery recharging so necessary at the end of each stressful year. This summer will be filled with some stay-at-home relaxing, some thoughts of how to improve next school year, some traveling with friends and of course, lots and lots of yoga.

How will you recharge your batteries this summer? What will you do to take care of yourself so you can make sure your train stays on the track?

{click image for source}

 

Yoga+Music365 (day41) – The Con by Tegan and Sara – Refinements Edition

This week I’ve thought a lot about this Yoga+Music365 project.

I’ve reached the 40 day milestone, people in real life have talked to me about it (which is such an amazing feeling) and I simply feel different from when I started.

I feel lighter, more clear-headed, more fun.

Maybe it’s the daily yoga.

The biggest indicator that things are shifting in my life came to me yesterday. At school we give HUGE assessments every six weeks and a week or two later get together to discuss the results. We’re looking at data to see how well our instruction is reaching each student and then make a plan how to refine said instruction before the next set of exams.

In the past, testing week was hell. I was very crabby and only worried about results. My stress and results driven ego would essentially ruin everyone’s week.

This time I decided to change my perspective. I would face the assessment results with a sense of curiosity.

Did this last round of instructional refinements make a difference in outcome? Can everyone survive testing week intact?

While testing week isn’t over yet, I am happy to report I have felt a definite lightness in myself. I’ve also seen that lightness translate into encouragement for students working hard and seeing them relax more.

The biggest growth I’ve seen in my students are from my two that struggle the most. I’ve been watching them take their tests this week. Instead of giving up and guessing, each of them is spending time trying to sound out each word and giving their all.

It’s been one big proud teacher moment all week with these two.

So has the refinement in instruction worked?

I would say so.

Has the daily yoga helped me be a better teacher?

Definitely.

+++++++ 

Today’s yoga brought to you by Kim at It’s All Yoga in Sacramento.

Today’s music is The Con by Tegan and Sara.

Don’t forget FREE Fridays at 4:30 with the new It’s All Yoga teachers (21st and X in Sacramento) – you’ve got to sign up online www.itsallyoga.com

I’m teaching 3/5/10 – so mark your calendar.

For the month of February, I’m teaching a Level 1/2 on Mondays at 5:45. Come join me.

Yoga+Music365 (day35) – Live A Little by Pernice Brothers

I have a confession.

I never understood why yoga teachers thank their students for sharing their practice with them. I honestly just thought it was something that they say to end a class. Or they wanted to be polite or whatever. In any case, I just didn’t get it.

Then at the end of my first class, with everyone smiling at me, I felt it.

Gratitude.

Like that welling up, spilling over, where the hell did this come from – gratitude.

They (gulp! WE) truly are humbled and grateful for you sharing your practice.

I thought you’d like to know… we aren’t faking it.

++++++

Today’s yoga brought to you by Madeleine at It’s All Yoga.

Today’s music is Live A Little by Pernice Brothers.

Don’t forget FREE Fridays at 4:30 with the new It’s All Yoga teachers (21st and X in Sacramento) – you’ve got to sign up online www.itsallyoga.com

I’m teaching 3/5/10 – so mark your calendar.

For the month of February, I’m teaching a Level 1/2 on Mondays at 5:45. Come join me.

Yoga+Music365 (day34) – Human Like a House by The Finches – My First Class Edition

Monday night I taught my very first solo yoga class.

Despite all my hand wringing nervousness before the class, I absolutely loved it!

It finally clicked why I wanted to do this in the first place: to share something I love with people.

The following is from Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living by Pema Chodron:

We already have everything we need. There is no need for self-improvement.

These words sum up why I love yoga.

Oh yeah, I also really like the laying down with your eyes closed part too!

+++++

Don’t forget FREE Fridays at 4:30 with the new It’s All Yoga teachers (21st and X in Sacramento) – you’ve got to sign up online www.itsallyoga.com

I’m teaching 3/5/10 – so mark your calendar.

For the month of February, I’m teaching a Level 1/2 on Mondays at 5:45. Come join me.

Yoga+Music365 (day32) – Blame It On Gravity by Old97s- The Blindfolded Yoga Edition!

Blindfolded yoga?

I so didn’t make this up.

That would be Michelle.

She’s a fancy yoga teacher who is taking a month off from teaching. She’s been doing this for years, so she can get away with that wackiness. She knows what she’s doing and people trust her. They know she’s driving and so they follow her lead.

She’s pretty much a genius.

And she’s trusting me to sub for her during her time off.

DUDE!

That’s a lot of pressure.

I’ve talked to my Monsters and we’ve come to an agreement.

I’ve practiced my class at home, taught it to my wonderfully patient dude, and I promise to remember to breathe during the class.

I’ll also keep in mind that everyone there isn’t expecting Michelle because they all read her blog about her February Recess.

But back to the Blindfolded Yoga…

As soon as I put the blindfold on, I was filled with a sense of peaceful euphoria. All the striving and ego I fight against in the higher level classes just disappeared.  I was free to practice with all my focus internally. I was able to really let go of the anxiety I had been feeling about teaching and settle into concentrating on being in the moment. Of course all those moments included trying not to fall over myself or my props.

For a few minutes I was able to really live in the moment and that’s what yoga is all about.

Today’s yoga brought to you by the home practice! I’ve got to contain my nervous energy somehow.

Today’s music is Blame It on Gravity by Old97s.

Don’t forget FREE Fridays at 4:30 with the new It’s All Yoga teachers (21st and X in Sacramento) – you’ve got to sign up online www.itsallyoga.com

I’m teaching 3/5/10 – so mark your calendar.

For the month of February, I’m teaching a Level 1/2 on Mondays at 5:45. Come join me.

There Are Monsters All Up In There!

At 4:30 am I woke up from an awful dream. I was scheduled to teach a yoga class and it was at the house where I grew up. The room where I was to be teaching was longer and more narrow than I remembered, so I switched to another room only to find it stuffed full of furniture and people waiting.

There were couches and coffee table after coffee table after coffee table, and dining room tables. A bar had been set up and needed to be moved and even coffee and Danish.

And did I mention all the people?

Even my dad was there. He said he wanted to try yoga. He’d heard from someone it’s really good for you and since I’m teaching now, he was there for my class.

Are you effing kidding me?

My dad?

The people just kept coming. They didn’t have their mats or their clothes or any of their yoga stuff. There was a sense of anticipation.The time kept ticking and the furniture moving was going at a snail’s pace.

When would we start? How would we ever begin with all the talking, milling about, furniture moving? How would we fit everyone there?

Everyone kept asking me questions…. thinking I was in charge. Like I knew what to do in these strange circumstances. Like I WAS IN CHARGE….

I kept reminding myself to breathe and that it would be ok.

Except I didn’t even believe myself.

I guess my Monsters are trying to tell me something.

It’s now 5am, I’m blogging and I’ve got heartburn.

I guess you could say I’m losing my freaking marbles about subbing for Michelle (my badass, seemingly perfect, rock star teacher) .

I guess you could say that I’m feeling like I need to plan the perfect class and prepare for everything that may happen.

I need to find the perfect story/poem to start the class.

I need to come up with the perfect sequence for every single person in the class.

I need to know every modification and prop to support every person in every pose.

I need to say the perfect words for every pose and have witty, but not too witty banter between poses.

Simply put, I need ME to be perfect.

Can someone talk to my MONSTERS for me?

I am having trouble getting through.

Michelle said she felt better after she let hers rant and rave for a while.

Me?

I’ve just got heartburn.

Yoga+Music365 (day7) – Here We Stand by The Fratellis

I love January.

Most people think of January as the beginning of the year, the time of year for resolutions and self-improvement. But as a teacher, it is pretty much the midpoint.

I spend the first half of the year filling them up with information, procedures and expectations. Some kids can keep up with the quick pace from the start. Some kids can’t.

But then I send them home for winter break and it finally all sinks in.

My students are finally mine.

Every year in January I’m surprised how much my class comes together. I’m surprised how much we’ve become a real community. We’ve finally learned how to work well together, how to get our work finished and what behavior works and what doesn’t.

By this time of the year, I always feel connected to my students and I am proud of their accomplishments. It’s so nice to see them become more independent learners and to really start to take charge of their learning.

It’s my hope that one day, I will finally remember that my class really becomes mine, in January.

Today’s yoga brought to you by Madeleine at It’s All Yoga, Sacramento. <ROCKS>

Today’s music is Here We Stand by The Fratellis.

Looking for a few good students.

We are officially in the student teaching part of our yoga teacher training at It’s All Yoga. Now we just need students. If you have been wanting to try yoga, this is your chance. Please join us.

December 18, 4:30-5:30pm ~ Free Class! Join us, the teacher trainees, for a free all-level class.

21st and X Street, Midtown, Sacramento.

www.itsallyoga.com for more information

Worry list

I thought I would share a current list of things that are weighing on my brain. Maybe getting them out of my head will help sort them out and give me some perspective.

1. Our adoption. I’m worried it’s not actually going to happen. In the words of Tom Petty, “The waiting is the hardest part.” Indeed.

2. Next school year…. Will I be teaching? Where will I be teaching? What grade will I be teaching?

Seems some changes may be happening and if I’m going to be teaching I’d like to know now who, what and where. Not so much on the last minute changes by other people. Just sayin.

3. If our adoption does go through in the next few months, how will I survive the travel? 

Jet lag + humidity + extreme heat + anxiety = bad news for Tami.

4. How will I handle the transition to parenthood? Will we really be able to live on one income?

5. Will I teach yoga? Where will that take me?

6. Ok, the thinking about the extreme Thailand heat got me thinking about the summer weather here. Will I ever get used to the heat in Sacramento? I really hate it. Seriously. Once it starts, sometimes I feel like it’s never going to stop and that freaks me out.

Will yoga help with…?

The short answer I’ve got for the question “Will yoga help with my….?”  is YES!!!

Here’s what yoga has helped me with so far.

This is by no means a complete list.

1. Touching my toes.

2. Getting the knot the size of Idaho out from under of my shoulder-blade which had been implanted there at birth.

3. Quieting the symphony of critics, judges, voices, whatever you want to call them – you know that thing that keeps you feeling bad about yourself.

4. Breathing more deeply.

5. Letting shit go.

6. Feeling better in my body.

7. Not thinking I’m fat anymore despite being heavier than I’ve ever been.

8. Lightening the hell up.

9. Judging less.

10. Laughing more.

11. Singing more.

12. Trying more.

13. Quitting less.

14. Taking more healthy risks. Hello, inversions!

15. Taking less unhealthy risks. Bourbon? Not never, but not so much.

16. Smiling more.

17. Interacting with strangers more.

18. Liking strangers more.

19. Liking people in general more.

20. Slowing down.

21. Beating myself up less.

22. Sleeping better.

23. Less PMS.

24. More hugs.

25. Letting go of the past.

26. Embracing the now.

27. Not agonizing about the future.

28. Finding, recognizing, and admiring kindness in myself and others.

29. Cracking open my heart.

30. Crying more.

31. Props are there to support you.

32. Support feels good.

33. I live for corpse pose!

34. Feeling like I’ve had a massage.

If you’d like to feel one of the above things, please try some yoga. I’d really recommend coming to It’s All Yoga in Sacramento because it’s through the loving kindness that I’ve received from my teachers I’ve learned all these lessons and have been inspired to teach them to others.

If you don’t live in Sacramento, then search for a place that feels like home. Don’t settle for yoga-cize or the competitive “no pain, no gain” classes at the gym or high fashion studio. It’s worth it to find your yoga home.

I have found mine.

Letting go a little improves life. Letting go a lot brings happiness and joy. — Jim McGregor

Letting go for me is a relatively recent phenomenon. Up until about a year ago, I was your go-to gal for righting the wrongs in life - big and small. You could hardly find a fight where I didn’t have a dog in the ready or a sword to fall on. However, I realized I was exhausted from carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders. As a result, I’ve been practicing letting things go.

In the beginning it was really hard to let things go. I definitely had to practice. In fact, it was a serious fake it, til you make it kind of a deal. Someone would do or say something stupid and I’d have to make a choice on how to react. Most times I’d mutter to myself through clenched teeth, “Whatevs” or “Look at me, letting it go…”

You know what I learned from letting things go? The world kept revolving, the sun came up, the seasons changed and life just kept on going. I also learned I felt better about the world. I slept better. My face started to clear up and my back muscles were more relaxed. I laughed more and I had more fun.

I thought I had this beast tamed until I started this program. The anxiety around teaching and the pressure to get all the work done — and failing miserably despite my efforts not to —  was really wearing me down. It was coming out in how I was treating myself and dredging up all those yucky feelings of not being good enough.  Not fun.

I talked to my teacher about my feelings and she gave me some really good perspective. She reminded me that we aren’t working in the emergency room, so no one’s life is at stake. I was glad for the reminder that we’re not saving babies here. She offered loving words of encouragement, told me that I didn’t sound nearly as maniacal as I felt and that over time I’d feel more comfortable teaching.

So rather than grip to those anxious feelings and let them keep me from teaching, I decided to jump back in. Yesterday I opened a small class with some other TTs. I spent my 15 minutes guiding my students through some gentle movements and offering a reading as a theme for our practice. While I was in the front of the group I decided to just do what felt good and to breathe. A lot. Admittedly, there may have been too many audible sighs, but I suppose that’s better than not enough.

The point being, I taught yoga without freaking out!

Lighten up, Francis.  –words to live by.

I’ve got issues.

The actual teaching part of the teacher training is kicking my butt. When it’s my turn to teach a pose or two for my fellow tts or during this weekend, our new mamas-to-be, I feel light-headed and I have a hard time hearing anything besides my heart pounding in my ears and my inner critics. Plural. There is so much internal chatter going on that I can’t even really hear exactly what is being said, however I know none of it is complimentary.

Time slows down and I’m no longer able to judge how long we’ve held each pose or if I’m talking too much or too little. Do I sound like I know what I’m talking about? Does my imagery make sense? Is my nervous energy oozing out of every pore or does it just feel like it?  Are they having fun? Why aren’t I? I have fun when I take class. I love yoga so much when other people teach it, why do I struggle so much to enjoy teaching it?

Even when I’m watching the teachers before and after my poses, I have a hard time being in the moment. I’m too focused on what I feel like I’ve done well and beating myself up for anything I feel I didn’t.

To say I experience great anxiety, self-doubt and anxiety would be putting it lightly. I experience something close to dread when it’s time to teach yoga. It’s “funny” given that I teach as my chosen profession and that I truly love the teaching part of my job.

I’m watching my fellow It’s All Yoga Teacher Trainees find their teaching footing and I’m in awe. So many of them are developing their voice and confidence, taking all opportunities to teach with grace and confidence. It’s like watching a bunch of flowers sprout from bulbs in the spring.

I’m feeling the opposite about myself. The crazy thing is that the further into the teacher training, the more my anxiety grows. I feel less ready to take the reins than I did the first day when I felt my teaching experience really benefitted me. Now I feel that experience is so different that it isnt’ as applicable as I first thought it would be. In theory they are very alike, but in practice, I’m finding much less so.

I am having a hard time figuring out exactly where this all comes from. A list of possibilities include: general perfectionist tendencies, feeling like I don’t have the expertise of my teachers (or fellow tts) so why am I in the front of the room? – hello, self-doubt!, not enough time to prepare, etc.