So You Think You’d Like To Teach School?

Recently I’ve gotten some interest in the hows and whys behind my teaching story. So I started a series called So You Think You Want to Teach School.
I figured you also may be interested or can add your own story or thoughts in the comments.
What made you want to become a school teacher?
My husband is a teacher. While I worked in politics on the exact opposite schedule, I got to see and hear what great fun he was having at work. A bitter pill since I so wasn’t having any fun.I grew up thinking I’d be a teacher of some kind. I definitely wanted to have some life experience under my belt before I got in front of a classroom full of students, so I spent a little more than a decade working in politics. While I was jumping from job to job, office to office, campaign to campaign I completely lost sight of my desire to teach. As in, totally forgot about it.Once it became clear a political life wasn’t for me, I decided to try teaching and while applying to credential programs I discovered my original college entrance essay all about how I wanted to work in politics long enough to have contributed to the world in that way and to have something to contribute to my students.

Clearly I thought (at the time), I’d be teaching high school social studies or government at the community college level. Turns out,  I was made to teach elementary school. {See: Best Part}

Here’s a little interview I did talking about discovering my inner teacher, dining with rock stars and working too much.

Was it scary to change careers?

Absolutely! But the thought of staying where I was scared me even more.

I bridged the money and experience gap through substitute teaching for a year while I was earning my teaching credential. Nothing prepares you for teaching like doing it every day with new kids – not even your credential program.

During that year I learned about classroom management (and how it was the most important part of being able to teach), organization, ages of students I was most interested in teaching, and that yes, I really like kids and wanted to spend my work days with them.

What program/school did you go through to get your credential? Would you recommend the program/school you went through?

I went through the UCDavis/Sac State Collaborative program – an intense 1 year program which has since been dissolved.  Both colleges offered challenging courses and helped me develop my teaching philosophy.

UC Davis professors helped me learn how to teach kids to read (and pass the RICA), how to use a read aloud to develop a community of learners, challenge my students with writing in math, use games to further learning as well as teach me some math fundamentals I never learned.

Who knew multiplication was actually just repeated addition?

You did?

Crap!
Am I the only one who thought it was just a series of step to follow?Sacramento State helped me get over my fear of science (hands on learning and curiosity about how stuff works), look at my biases on race, class and gender and figure out how I’m going to get a room full of kids to do what I need them to do when I need them to do it.What do you love most about teaching?Friends, may I be honest here? I’ve had a LOT of co-workers before and none are even in the ballpark of awesome like my third graders.Seriously. Eight year olds are amazing. They are like super human of the little kids. Smart, funny, kind, generous, willing to try to understand their sarcastic teacher even when they have no idea what she’s talking about.  They usually don’t cry, will try most things and they love recess as much as I do. Also they think I’m the best reader, writer and jump-roper they know.

Can you say that about your co-workers?

What do you like least about teaching?

Hmmmm… the endless meetings for meeting sake? What about paper work for paper work sake? Everyone and their grandma thinking they know how to do your job better than you because they went to school? The national “debate” how my profession is RUINING THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT?

Christ, I may have to start a whole other blog for this one. Since I don’t have time for that, please go read Mrs. Mimi at It’s Not All Flowers and Sausages. She says it better than I do anyway.

Stay tuned for Part 2!

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Do you have any questions about becoming a teacher? Do you have anything to add?

This Is My Happiness: On the Yoga Mat – My Interview with Jenna Francisco Part 2

Teachers.

Don’t you just love them?

I know I do.

There are those that inspire me and those that make me laugh. Some help me solve problems in my classroom and others that help me solve problems in my life.

I’d like to introduce you to some of my favorite teachers here.

Teachers in studios, classrooms and in the world at large. These are the folks you will see featured in my new series of interviews here at Teacher Goes Back to School.

I hope you enjoy these teachers as much as I do!

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Have you met Jenna yet? She’s May’s Featured Teacher, professor, blogger and momma.

In case you missed it, here’s PART 1.

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When did you start practicing yoga?

In 1999 or 2000.

Why did you start?

I was curious.  I also had loved ballet as a child and took dance classes in college, and I wanted to get back in touch with something similar, something body-related and calming.

Where did you practice?

I enrolled in an 8-week series at an Iyengar studio in Iowa City,Iowa.  Then I enrolled in another and another.  I moved to Ohio shortly after that and continued with another Iyengar instructor.  Both of them were amazing, strong women in their fifties who could do crazy stuff with their bodies.  They inspired me to get more active and take care of myself.  At the time I had no idea I was learning a particular style of yoga, but I loved the Iyengar focus on body alignment and progression of poses, and I think it gave me a great foundation.


How has your practice evolved over time?

After I moved to Sacramento in 2002, I obviously was exposed to a lot more than just the Iyengar classes I’d been in.  I tried other styles and started practicing a lot at home.  My practice went through phases—sometimes very physical and other times less, depending on how I was feeling or who was teaching my regular classes.

In the 3+ years since I became a mom, it’s been all about enjoying myself and being in the moment.  During my last pregnancy, I had to honor the space I needed to deal with some challenges, so I haven’t been practicing much for the past year but will be reuniting with yoga soon.

Do you have a home practice? What is it like? How often? Where? How’d you start and how do you keep at it?

Before I had kids, I had a pretty regular home practice, sometimes all from me, sometimes from books, and sometimes from videos.  A home practice had 2 big advantages for me: it was free and I could do whatever I wanted.

After It’s All Yoga opened, I started going there for the Saturday and Sunday classes and fell in love with the studio.  The focus of my home practice shifted to restorative and regular meditation, but that has been very up and down.  I include yoga readings and related stuff, which have actually made me a much calmer and more focused person the last few years.  For example, Judith Lasater’s Living Your Yoga changed my outlook and made me happier.  Really.

I hope to get some of that back but will have to redefine it since I have no time to myself in my house now.

What’s your favorite pose? Why?

I have a few.  Triangle and Half-Moon are my favorite standing poses.  I practiced Half-Moon all through my other pregnancy despite the constant changes in the front of my body, so I associate that pose with strength and balance.  I love Pigeon and the feeling of backbends and forward bends.  Yummy.

What’s your least favorite pose?

Anything that requires arm or upper-body strength since I don’t have much.  Say Crow or Headstand, and I get nervous!  That has always been my weakness, so I used to work on it and made good progress, but that has all been lost the last few years.  I’d love to get it back someday soon.

What other blogs do your read? Why?

I mix friends’ blogs and other blogs that I feel pulled to.  For instance, I read yours—we have so much in common, so it’s really fun for me, and I love your recipes.  I read Michelle’s (Blogasana) because I love the way she writes and am inspired by her messages.

As far as other blogs, I read Raamdev.com regularly because he is a genuine, beautiful, special person on a real journey.  He always inspires me and makes me want to be a better human.

For fun, I love this San Francisco photographer’s sites: blog.adampaul.com and adampaulphotography.com.

And for food, which is a passion of mine, I read food52.com and Markbittman.com.  He’s a food genius.

My favorite travel blog is uncornernedmarket.com, written by an inspiring, witty, intelligent couple.  I am constantly wowed by their writing and photography.

Who or what inspires you?

That’s a really hard question!  People who are kind, simple, and interested in the betterment of all humans.  People, especially quirky or creative ones, who are 100% comfortable being themselves.  Societies that value slowness, simplicity, and equality.

I’m inspired to be in the moment every day, whether it’s just relaxing, spending time with my sons, or even going to work.  I’m inspired by history and art, and I won’t lie—I love to travel and want to live overseas, (both very outside-of-the-moment!), so I’m inspired to see as much of this world as I can in my short life.

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If you’d like to learn more about Jenna and her travels check out her blog, This Is My Happiness.

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Please leave any questions or comment love below – we’d love to hear from you.

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INTERVIEW ARCHIVES:

April 2010 Amy Estes, Just A Titch

March 2010 Anna Guest-Jelley, Founder Curvy Yoga

February 2011: Jed Brewer, Public School Teacher/Music Executive

December 2010: Madeleine Lohman, Yoga Teacher/Massage Therapist

November 2010: Alicia Herrera – 4th grade teacher/Textile Artist – Spirit House Designs.

October 2010: Ryan Fong – Teaching Assistant/PhD Candidate in English at UC Davis.

September 2010: Michelle Marlahan- Proprietress/Fairy Queen of It’s All Yoga in Sacramento, California.

Teaching All Over the World: An Interview with Jenna Francisco of This Is My Happiness

Teachers.

Don’t you just love them?

I know I do.

There are those that inspire me and those that make me laugh. Some help me solve problems in my classroom and others that help me solve problems in my life.

I’d like to introduce you to some of my favorite teachers here.

Teachers in studios, classrooms and in the world at large. These are the folks you will see featured in my series of interviews here at Teacher Goes Back to School.

I hope you enjoy these teachers as much as I do!

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Have you met Jenna? She’s the writer of the inspiring This Is My Happiness: Reflections on Travels and Day-to-Day Joys, college instructor, yogi and momma.

Meet Jenna Francisco -May’s TGBTS Featured Teacher.

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What and where do you teach?

I teach ESL (English as a Second Language) at Cosumnes River College in Sacramento, California.  I teach all levels, from false-beginners to very advanced, and all skills (writing, reading, pronunciation, grammar, etc.).  I love the variety of all the levels of our program, but I prefer teaching the most advanced students because we work with literature, research, and other academic subject matter.

The student population is extremely diverse, from all over the world with different religions, languages, cultures, and ages.  All the students have a story of some kind, from being imprisoned in re-education camps or barely surviving as one of the “boat people” from Vietnam, to being the victim of domestic violence or escaping religious persecution.  I love working with them, and it all makes for a job that never gets boring.

What is your teaching history?

I started teaching rather spontaneously in 1996 in the Czech Republic, but I had no idea what I was doing and basically no support (very few books, no computer), so planning lessons was really hard.  In 1997, I returned to the U.S. and went to graduate school to study linguistics.  I was fortunate to get a full-time teaching position when I graduated in 2000.  I’ve been at CRC since 2002 and have learned how to teach mostly through experience.


What brought you to teaching?

I got a B.A. in art history and planned to go to grad school, but I had a year to kill, so I traveled in Europe for 3 months and visited my best friend from college, who was living in the Czech Republic with the Peace Corps.

I was totally entranced by the idea of living abroad for an extended period of time, so I asked her if I could move in with her.  I started teaching English there because that’s the easiest job for Americans living abroad to find.  I had always loved languages, grammar, and writing, and I ended up realizing I could really love doing it if I could just get trained, which is why I went back to school in 1997.

 Tell us about your blog.

My blog, This Is My Happiness, is something I started for fun more than a year ago.  I originally wanted to write about my travel experiences because traveling is one of my great loves in life, and after I had my first child, I felt a strong desire to travel more, I guess because I felt like life was getting shorter.

My blog has evolved into a place where I have fun expressing myself and occasionally write about other life stuff, too.  An unexpected benefit of it is connecting with others; I love reading and responding to people’s comments and now have on-line friends!

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If you’d like to learn more about Jenna and her travels check out her blog, This Is My Happiness, and be sure to stick around for part 2 – coming soon!

For up to the minute news, you can also follow Jenna on Twitter and you can “like” her blog on Facebook.

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Please leave any questions or comment love below – we’d love to hear from you.

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INTERVIEW ARCHIVES:

April 2011 Amy Estes, High School English Teacher and writer of Just A Titch

March 2011 Anna Guest-Jelley Brilliant Mind behind Curvy Yoga

February 2011 Jed Brewer Teacher/Musician/Music Executive/Yogi

December 2010: Madeleine Lohman, Yoga Teacher/Massage Therapist

November 2010: Alicia Herrera – 4th grade teacher/Textile Artist – Spirit House Designs.

October 2010: Ryan Fong – Teaching Assistant/PhD Candidate in English at UC Davis.

September 2010: Michelle Marlahan- Proprietress/Fairy Queen of It’s All Yoga in Sacramento, California.

Just A Titch: On the Mat – An Interview with Amy Estes, Part 2

Teachers.

Don’t you just love them?

I know I do.

There are those that inspire me and those that make me laugh. Some help me solve problems in my classroom and others that help me solve problems in my life.

I’d like to introduce you to some of my favorite teachers here.

Teachers in studios, classrooms and in the world at large. These are the folks you will see featured in my new series of interviews here at Teacher Goes Back to School.

I hope you enjoy these teachers as much as I do!

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Have you met Amy yet? She’s April’s Featured Teacher and kick ass high school teacher.

In case you missed it, here’s PART 1.

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When did you start practicing yoga?

My first yoga class was in 2004. It was a Bikram class and even though it was hot and scary, I loved it.

Why did you start?

True confessions: a girl I worked with told me she knew someone who lost 20 lbs in two months doing Bikram. Since I’d have given my left arm to do that, I thought a yoga class seemed pretty reasonable.

I went a few times and on my third session, I found myself laying in corpse pose crying (and not just from the heat!) [Ed. note: What is up with all the crying in yoga?] and realized that it wasn’t just a physical thing happening. I was hooked and used to get up at 5 AM every single day to go to hot yoga before work.

Where did you practice?

I initially started at Bikram Yoga Granite Bay because I was living in Rocklin. When I moved to Midtown in 2004, I moved to Yoga Loka, where I practiced for nearly two years. I tried out It’s All Yoga because I wanted a break from Bikram and then for a variety of reasons, I stopped coming to IAY and/or doing yoga at all.

I found you and Michelle via Twitter, and decided to come back. I’ve slowly gotten more into it and am trying desperately to make it a weekly, regular thing. I think that yoga is hard for me to commit to, because it’s not just a physical workout, all the emotional stuff comes out, too and that can be a little intense for a Wednesday afternoon, you know?

[Ed.note: Yoga can ruin your life as you know it. - as per Michelle].

How has your practice evolved over time?

I love Bikram, and still go occasionally, but I think that often times, the emphasis in that class is about pushing really hard and finding your max. I often feel insecure in those classes because I’m a curvy girl and I can’t do some of the poses.

I prefer to be a lot more gentle with myself. Yoga isn’t just a “workout” — it’s a time when I feel really connected to my body and all of those feelings I have around it, both positive and negative. Also, my practice has changed — positively — since attending Michelle’s classes because I really do feel safe there to bring all my “stuff” because she’s incredibly nurturing, and also a friend.

The older I get, the more okay I am with myself and my particular body and feelings, and that makes yoga more of a joy and less of a competition or place to push myself.

Do you have a home practice? What is it like? How often? Where? How’d you start and how do you keep at it?

My home practice has increased since I started going to CrossFit, simply because I need to stretch all the time. It’s usually a few poses at night, in my living room, with terrible reality TV on in the background. I know, not very yogi-like, but it’s better than nothing, no?

[Ed.Note: Always].

What’s your favorite pose? Why?

Tree and Warrior make me feel really strong and grounded. I love Pigeon because my hips and low back are always tight. I also look forward to a long Savasana after a good practice.

What’s your least favorite pose?

Downward facing dog is my least favorite. Actually, anything inverted at all. It makes the blood rush to my head and I hate that feeling. This probably means I need to do them more, right?

[Ed. note: Or you could kill the dog and NEVER do it again].

What other blogs do your read? Why?

I read well over 100 blogs, so listing them all would take forever. My absolute favorite blogs are Yes and Yes (because she’s smart, funny, and insightful), Mimi Smartypants (because she makes me laugh out loud) and Caffeinate Me (because the author is one of my best friends, and I think she’s an insanely talented writer). I tend to read blogs that I find inspiring but also real.

I love lifestyle blogs, but I also need to feel like I could have the author over for dinner and they wouldn’t judge my pile of laundry. I like blogs that are funny, well-written and helpful in some way, or blogs that belong to people I hold dear (and usually fall into one of those categories anyways!).

Who or what inspires you?

I think working in a profession where I’m forced to be creative is good for inspiration—teenagers see the world so differently than I do, and also, kids are brutally honest about how they’re feeling, which definitely inspires thoughts. Otherwise, I find inspiration in a good book, a song that makes me want to dance or cry, conversations with my closest friends, a long drive on a sunny day, in cooking or baking, during a long bath or shower and the things that I write off-line, in my paper journal.

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If you’d like to learn more about Amy check out her blog, Just A Titch.

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Please leave any questions or comment love below – we’d love to hear from you.

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INTERVIEW ARCHIVES:

March 2010 Anna Guest-Jelley, Founder Curvy Yoga

February 2011: Jed Brewer, Public School Teacher/Music Executive

December 2010: Madeleine Lohman, Yoga Teacher/Massage Therapist

November 2010: Alicia Herrera – 4th grade teacher/Textile Artist – Spirit House Designs.

October 2010: Ryan Fong – Teaching Assistant/PhD Candidate in English at UC Davis.

September 2010: Michelle Marlahan- Proprietress/Fairy Queen of It’s All Yoga in Sacramento, California.

In Case You Missed It Edition, Volume 20

{via}

Each week I’ll give you links to posts that made me laugh, cry, think or at least raise an eyebrow. Please click the links and check out the posts. You may find something that rocks your world too.

Leave me some feedback in the form of comments below on what you liked, what you hated and what you’d like to see more of. I’m here to help you find the best of what is online.

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My Best Of…

What makes a great teacher? Hint, it’s not the cute pants. A seriously great post about what makes a great yoga teacher, but really the qualities apply to all kinds of teachers.

How NOT to teach a beginning level class. Again, it applies to all kinds of teaching, not just the yoga kind.

Remember how much you wanted to win a scarf from November’s Featured Teacher –  Alicia at Spirit House Designs? Well, she’s doing a purse GIVE AWAY. Go enter friends! You’ve got until March 12th.

EXCITING NEW ALERT!

Teacher Goes Back to School is growing up! In addition to our regularly scheduled fully restorative yoga class at It’s All Yoga, we are in search of a designer to make TGBTS as pretty as she is useful.

If you know someone or are someone who would like to work on this small-budget project, please send them my way via comment or email TGBTSblog (at) gmail dot com.

Speaking of pretty and useful blogs – have you checked out Charlotte’s Fancy? Love this victory garden post.

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Curvy Yogis update – save the date for the last weekend of March for photo shoot. Details to follow. Our photographer is traveling and we’re coordinating schedules the best we can.

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That is the In Case You Missed It Edition for this week, folks.

Remember to click the links and leave some comments. This is a conversation, you know.

In Case You Missed Edition Archives -click it to see them all.


Teacher/President of Lather Records: An Interview with Jed Brewer

Teachers.

Don’t you just love them?

I know I do.

There are those that inspire me and those that make me laugh. Some help me solve problems in my classroom and others that help me solve problems in my life.

I’d like to introduce you to some of my favorite teachers here.

Teachers in studios, classrooms and in the world at large. These are the folks you will see featured in my new series of interviews here at Teacher Goes Back to School.

I hope you enjoy these teachers as much as I do!

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Jed Brewer is February’s Featured Teacher. Public school teacher by day and musician/executive by night. Oh and a yogi too!

Did I mention he totally rocks?

Lucky guy, he’s my husband too!

{Happy Valentine’s Day!}

What and where do you teach?

I teach 2nd grade at Theodore Judah in Sacramento by McKinley Park.

What is your teaching history?

My previous 11 years of full-time teaching was at Oak Ridge in Oak Park, Sacramento.  I taught mostly 4th grade, but also a little 3rd grade.  I also worked as a substitute for over 6 years during my “starving artist” period.  I subbed K-12.

Originally, I was going to sub for one year, but I was having such a good time with music that it lasted longer.  I learned a lot from subbing because you really have to have your classroom management together.  It’s never “your class.”  You also get to see how hundreds of teachers set up their classroom and what different grade levels are like – from elaborate 3rd grade rooms to lazy football coaches who “teach history.”

I discovered early on that I really like teaching diverse student populations.  You learn a lot from the kids and it’s great to see them take off and do great things once they have the opportunity and tools to do it.  I also like the feeling of contributing to the country/world.

What brought you to teaching?

It’s kind of cliché, but the excitement of learning is a big part of it.  There’s also the ego-feeding part of it.  You get to be up on stage and explain things.  Plus, all the opportunities to tell jokes and be a dork.  It’s such a hard job, if you’re not going to enjoy the fun parts, why even do it?  Kids are usually the best comedians, even when they’re not trying to be funny.

I hate the expression, “Those who can’t, teach.”  That said, I have met a few teachers that fall into that category.  I think some of us just wouldn’t feel right doing something corporate and being driven by the need to make more dough than the next guy.  It’s too bad that there is a corporate element to the current reform movement in education.  Some people just don’t get it.  They think teaching kids is the same as selling flat screen televisions.

Tell us about your blog -

I just started the Lather Records blog a couple of months ago.  It’s mainly an easier way to update the news portion of Lather Records.  It’s not meant to be an everyday posting factory.  So far it’s been fun.  I just did my first non-Lather post about the Jandek show I went to.  I’ve been running my little coop label for around 20 years, and occasionally I do something like this to catch up with the times.

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If you’d like to learn more about Jed check out his new blog!

Would you like a FREE DOWNLOAD from Jed’s solo EP?

You can also “like” Jed’s bands on Facebook: San Kazakgascar and Harvester

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Stay tuned for Part 2 – Teacher, Music Executive, Yogi

Please leave any questions or comment love below – we’d love to hear from you.

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INTERVIEW ARCHIVES:

December 2010: Madeleine Lohman, Yoga Teacher/Massage Therapist

November 2010: Alicia Herrera – 4th grade teacher/Textile Artist – Spirit House Designs.

October 2010: Ryan Fong – Teaching Assistant/PhD Candidate in English at UC Davis.

September 2010: Michelle Marlahan- Proprietress/Fairy Queen of It’s All Yoga in Sacramento, California.

MadYoga Debuts: An Interview with Madeleine Lohman

Teachers.

Don’t you just love them?

I know I do.

There are those that inspire me and those that make me laugh. Some help me solve problems in my classroom and others that help me solve problems in my life.

I’d like to introduce you to some of my favorite teachers here.

Teachers in studios, classrooms and in the world at large. These are the folks you will see featured in my new series of interviews here at Teacher Goes Back to School.

I hope you enjoy these teachers as much as I do!

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I’m so excited for this month’s interview!

Have you met Madeleine yet?

Love her.

Madeleine Lohman is December’s Featured Teacher. She teaches Yoga Basics, Gentle and Level 1-2 yoga at It’s All Yoga and she is also part of the IAY Teacher Training faculty. Plus she does massage and private yoga sessions/parties.

Did I mention she also totally rocks?

When did you start practicing yoga? Why?

Sometime in the late-mid nineties, I returned to Seattle after going to school in Montreal. I had my degree in English Literature which naturally led me to work at a toy store. (The coolest toy store ever, Archie Mcphee, but that’s another story…)

I had free time and brain space on my hands, and needed something new to think about. My friend was taking classes at a community center, so I went along.

It was a beginner’s class, but an accelerated one intended for folks who were already “in shape.” I don’t know what led me to believe that described me. I’ll never forget the teacher kneeling beside me trying to encourage me to roll back into plough pose. All my efforts produced almost no movement, only grunting.

I do remember that I did my first handstand in that class. I actually cried out: “Jeezus!!!”

The teacher didn’t find it funny.

How has your yoga practice evolved over time?

It has definitely moved out of the realm of competition and into the realm of kindness. It took a long time. It’s still happening.

I mean, I was never going to be a super-power-vinyasa yogi, but that doesn’t mean I couldn’t mistake yoga as just another way to “improve” my body.

Old habits die hard.

When you spend your teen years dieting and exercising in a punishing way, yoga can quite neatly fit into that regimen. Yoga can either change your bad habits or just give you another tool to cement them with.

Now, the asanas (poses) are a way to lavish attention on this body just as it is. And to make meditation, breathing, and just generally living a little easier.

How long have you been a yoga teacher?

Since 2003 or so. My first certification, ironically enough, was through “YogaFit.” They do trainings which take place over one weekend, which certainly opens them up to a lot of criticism in the yoga community.

And no, you can’t learn to be a yoga teacher in a weekend.

But it’s a very useful starting point for students like me, who were being nudged in the direction of teaching by a lot of sources, but were afraid of the full, Yoga Alliance approved, hundreds of hours type of commitment. It lets you know if you’re moving in the right direction.

And then I felt ready to jump in to the hundreds of hours of training I’ve done since then, knowing I liked what I was experiencing.

Truly, though, the only thing that prepares you for teaching is teaching.

Lots of it. As much as you can. Especially, when you’re starting out, offering your teaching freely to groups that might not ordinarily have access to the practice.

Do you have a home practice? What’s it like?

I believe if you don’t have a consistent home practice, you got nothing to teach.

My home practice finally started because it had to, it was a requirement of my second teacher training. There’s nothing like having to turn in a report that makes you get your practice in gear.

Since then, it’s faltered now and then, but for the most part, that’s how I teach, by making sure I practice and then teaching what I’ve found.

After confidently telling students for years that it’s more beneficial to have a shorter home practice that’s more frequent, I’ve completely changed my mind.

I do practice every morning, but by that I mean a sitting meditation and some very simple stretching.

In terms of the whiz-bang, full-on, get-down-on-it asana practice, I do that Monday/Wednesday/Friday, because I’m regimented like that. I discovered that shorter asana practices every day made me feel like I was reading a bunch of short stories, when what I wanted was to read a novel.

For me, taking a class definitely does not take the place of a home practice. Home practice is the work, class is the vacation. And as anyone who’s read my blog knows, I have a little trouble taking enough vacations.

Favorite pose?

Everyone gets a free pass or two in yoga, the poses and body parts that generally give you no complaints and are a lot of fun to wallow in. For me, that’s hips and hamstrings. So, give me a forward fold or a pigeon and I’m happy. The one pose I do every day, though, is downward dog.

Least favorite pose?

I’m not sure what you would call the opposite of your “free pass” – but for me it’s anything that requires upper body flexibility or strength. Chaturanga is the first that comes to mind, but any pose where you bind your arms (clasping hands together in a complicated way behind your torso) will find me cursing and looking for a strap.

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If you’d like to learn more about Madeleine check out her new website and blog!

Stay tuned for Part 2 – MadYoga Goes Online!

Please leave any questions or comment love below – we’d love to hear from you.

INTERVIEW ARCHIVES:

November 2010: Alicia Herrera – 4th grade teacher/Textile Artist – Spirit House Designs.

October 2010: Ryan Fong – Teaching Assistant/PhD Candidate in English at UC Davis.

September 2010: Michelle Marlahan- Proprietress/Fairy Queen of It’s All Yoga in Sacramento, California.


Yoga+Music365 (day55) – Outer South by Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band – The Negatron Edition

Let’s just say the grumpy teacher has been visiting my classroom this week.

Nobody likes when she is around.

In reflecting on my (ugh, I mean her) general state of prickly-ness, it dawned on me why the shift in attitude.

We just started our MONEY unit at school. Kids earn classroom money for doing work and behaving and pay fines for not. I’ve noticed I’m back to focusing on the behavior I don’t want to see and levying fines instead of looking for students that are earning their keep.

Must change focus – today.

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Today’s yoga brought to you by the home practice! It’s a staff meeting today. You know you’re jealous.

Today’s music is Outer South by Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band.

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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.

My Yoga Manifesto – PART III- All People Can Do Yoga

iay awesomeness - photo credit: vanessa vichit-vadakan

Manifesto: a public declaration of intentions, opinions, objectives, or motives, as one issued by a government, sovereign, or organization (or in this case, yoga teacher).

I believe all people can do yoga.

Yes, even you.

Some folks may be put off by yoga because they may think it’s about twisting their bodies into impossible poses usually found in a bag of pretzels.

Some people may be put off yoga because they think they are too ( chubby, old, young, busy, injured, poor, sad, happy, stressed out, tired, cool…)

Other may be put off yoga because they think they aren’t (flexible, strong, rich, fashionable, knowledgable…) enough.

Still others don’t do yoga because they think yoga is too (weird, out there, religious, trendy, bendy, slow, foreign).

I’m positive people that can find 1,001 reasons not to practice yoga.

I’d like to change all that.

You’ve just got to find the right teacher for your kind of yoga. The right teacher for you.

The right kind of teacher for you, right now, in the body you live in.

The right teacher for you will give modifications, work with the body you have, not have expectations of you, not judge you, not push you, not laugh at you. Generally not make you feel bad about yourself.

The right kind of teacher for you will explain what you are doing, help you move in and out of poses safely, show you how to use props to help you go places you can’t go on your own and maybe even make you giggle on occasion.

The right kind of teacher for you will help you see that yoga isn’t about perfecting poses, but about living in the body you have right now.

The right kind of teacher for you will help you find some stillness in the over-scheduled life we all seem to be living these days.

The right kind of teacher for you will help you see the beauty in the world.

The right kind of teacher for you will help you see the beauty in you.

If any of this sounds good to you, come take a class with me. Right now, I’m on the rotating new teacher schedule at It’s All Yoga in Sacramento. We’ve got a free class on Friday afternoons.

FREE Fridays at 4:30 with the new It’s All Yoga teachers (21st and X in Sacramento) –  sign up online www.itsallyoga.com.

If you are looking for a restorative class in Sacramento, we’ve got one of those too.

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What do you think makes a teacher right for you?

My Yoga Manifesto – PART II- Kindness

Like most people who come to yoga, I was first drawn to what I needed least from a yoga practice.

  • heat
  • intensity
  • power
  • competition

Too much heat and intensity for my already intense personality burnt me out quickly.  So I stopped going.

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Manifesto – a public declaration of intentions, opinions, objectives, or motives, as one issued by a government, sovereign, or organization (or in this case yoga teacher).

II. KINDNESS

Eventually I found what I really need from a yoga practice – kindness.

You may be scratching your head wondering what the hell kindness has to do with stretching and contorting your body into funny shapes.

As it turns out, a lot.

Let me explain.

When I first started taking classes with Michelle at It’s All Yoga (Sacramento), I was struck by her warmth and friendliness. She’d always greet me with a hug – and by hug I mean a full body embrace (she gives the best hugs)– and welcome me to class like we were long-lost best friends.

kindness

Then before we’d begin class, Michelle would remind us to work somewhere between effort and ease. She’d invite us to explore how we felt in our bodies in the different poses and listen to what we needed to feel good in that moment.

Admittedly, at first I thought this was crazy talk.

Why would I come to yoga class and not do my best poses?

Why wouldn’t I push myself harder than I had the day before?

How would I ever get better at yoga?

In these early days with Michelle, she’d walk by my mat and lovingly put her hand on my shoulder and say “For you my friend, 70 percent.”

I tried to do what she said, but it felt so foreign.

Who was this person that didn’t want to see the best that I had to offer?

Didn’t she see that I could do more?

What did she know that I didn’t?

Over time, what I learned from Michelle is that yoga isn’t a performance.

It’s isn’t a competition – even with yourself.

That what you could do yesterday doesn’t really matter. Every time you do a pose it’s different because this moment is different from the last.

The only thing that really matters is the now.

Michelle’s kind reminders of “70 percent” were exactly what I needed to hear. I needed someone to teach me to be kinder to myself.

As it turns out, being kinder to myself is my yoga.

Michelle’s kindness is one of the reasons I’ve decided I want to teach yoga. I hope to touch the hearts of other people the way she has touched mine.

Make Way for Ducklings

In third grade we read a story called Make Way for Duckings by Robert McCloskey. MWFD is the story of the Mallard family. The Mallards are trying to find a safe place to raise their babies in the Public Garden in Boston. A friendly policeman named Michael stops traffic to help the family cross the busy city street. The big lesson I teach my class about this story is that people have a responsiblity to protect wildlife.

Recently I have been thinking about a different part of the story.

Once the Mallards find a suitable home, Mr. Mallard takes a weeklong trip up the river leaving Mrs. Mallard on her own with their eight ducklings. During this time, Mrs Mallard teaches her babies all about life. The ducklings learned to swim, come when they are called and walk in a single file line.

Essentially Mrs. Mallard taught her ducklings how to be ducks.

My students are very much like the ducklings in the story.

They watch their parents’  every move and learn how to be in the world. Even when it seems like they aren’t paying attention, they are. 

Trust me.

They come to school and tell me that your family has moved into an apartment because your mortgage got too expensive. They also tell me when you’ve been arguing with your spouse. And they even tell me when you are in jail.

It makes me sad that my students and their families are having a rough go of it.

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.

A home practice? Are you crazy?!?

We’ve been asked to begin a home practice. I know, huh? Why on Earth would we start a home practice when our studio practice is so delicious? You go to class, roll out your mat and some super knowledgeable yogi gives up the goods. You’ve got some exercise, mental clarity and fulfilled a commitment. You feel better because you’ve “done” yoga and you didn’t have to think about it.

I finally got it today. Our job as teachers is to help students become independent learners… (Geez, where have I heard that before?). A yoga class can be likened to excellent tier one (whole group) instruction. Teachers guide students through poses giving corrective feedback and modeling poses. Students that need a little remediation, get it. Those that don’t,  just do some guided practice under the teacher’s supervision.  Under this scenario, what is the student’s proving behavior? It’s not until students are left to their own devices do we as teachers know they learned what we taught.

In the end, to truly know your student is making progress is when they can do it on their own. Think of it as grown up homework.

Yoga is like falling in love. It’s hard to explain to people that haven’t experienced it themselves.

In the interest of self-care, today I’m reposting my first ever post. 

Many of you haven’t seen this yet. It’s where the story began.

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Today was the first day of my 200 hour yoga teacher training.  My first thoughts are that I’m so glad I’m doing this now and with these people. I have been working the front desk and practicing regularly at the studio for more than a year now. Looking around the room I saw mostly familiar people I’ve practiced with many times.  I’m looking forward to practicing and learning from everyone – not just Michelle and the IAY gals. 

Why here?

It’s All Yoga is the closest slice of yoga heaven I’ve ever experienced. The teachers, without exception, exhibit kindness, generosity of spirit, humor and wisdom beyond their years.  The space itself is an inspiration in green living and the studio’s commitment to the environment is evident. I spend all my spare time trying to drag everyone I know into the studio to share in the goodness.

Why now?

I’ve been flirting with a regular yoga practice for years. I took my first class more than 10 years ago and thought I’d never experience anything so amazing. Fast forward to summer 2006 when I did my first “summer school” (3 unlimited months of yoga) at IAY and I discovered that amazing feeling only compounded with regularity. School years take an obscene amount of energy the first few years of a teacher’s career and so my regular practice suffered when “real life” returned after the summer break.

Last summer I started “Desk Diva-ing” and the rest is history. Instead of exclusively focusing on my teaching job this last school year, I devoted several days a week to my yoga practice. Working the desk committed me to two days a week and sometimes that is all I could do. Other weeks I found myself on my mat many more – sometimes even at home! 

Over this past year, my mat became my friend and sometimes my enemy. I spent a lot of time crying on my mat – frustration at my body’s limitations, envious of other people’s strength and flexibility, sadness because of some fertility issues, grief because of past trauma, family illnesses and deaths.

It wasn’t all tears (although sometimes it felt that way). Connection, joy, self acceptance, love, dare I say – divinity have also been present on my mat. Had those been there all along? Had I missed them always living in the past and the future? Would I keep experiencing them if I continue to practice?

This new regular practice helped me take my yoga (non-competitiveness, loving-kindness, openheartedness) into my classroom as well. I am looking forward to seeing what this deeper self exploration means for me and my students over the next few months as I delve deeper into a practice I’m falling in love with.