Saturday, February 9, 2013

A Yoga Teacher's Mid-Life Crisis

Hello Again!

It's been a busy beginning to the New Year (incidentally, today is the beginning of the Chinese New Year - Year of the Snake!) and I've taken a little hiatus from blogging over the holiday season. There have been a few developments that lead to this; I find the holiday season stressful, I get S.A.D during the darkest days of the year and need to regenerate energy by self-focus, meditation (this involves a lot of cooking of stews and soups, burning candles, long, hot detox baths, spending any time I have with family and good friends and not blogging ;). Today is a beautiful winter day, we received the gift of at least three feet of soft, white snow over the last 24 hours, and the sun is shining down making everything diamonds. It's breath-taking! I'll be out there soon, skiing by the river, but I'm inspired and wanted to share!

One of the developments that took me off-line for awhile was that I have stopped teaching yoga. This is not really a big deal, and it's happened before (I stopped teaching when I had my first child, through my pregnancy and until 8 months post-partum) but, for the most part, I've taught yoga in studios across the GTA for the past ten years. The 'crisis' part is that I don't think I'm going back. Ever.

And here is why...

I love Yoga. I believe yoga is for everyone; small, big, thick, thin, able of body, working with challenges... Everybody deserves yoga. I also have been confronted (again) with the fact that yoga as a capitalist system does not work. I've always put this behind me, as though it was not my business because, ultimately, it was, well, not my business! My attitude was that I was merely a contract teacher working under the umbrella of a studio. My recent experience challenged this perspective through rather emotional measures, and that is good. I was essentially 'fired' from a yoga studio. The reason I was given was that, "I'd created reactivity and tension" in the studio. Okay, fine.

The development leading up to receiving the email that told me I was no longer needed to teach my three classes a week, 48 hours before I was expected to teach them, was that I had not received a pay cheque for over two months. I'll preface this by saying that teaching (yoga) is not my main source of income and so I did not starve or miss credit card payments. I should also say, that after several emails expressing my discontent, I was eventually paid in-full for my services. I was made to wait, and to pursue my payments... And I was vocal about how disrespectful I felt this was. Employers have a responsibility to their employees to pay them for their services, timely and based upon contractual terms.

I was vocal, also, about my commitment to my discipline and training in yoga. I had been asked to not teach my style of yoga by the owners of this studio several months early. I suppose it was not considered 'marketable' (though the classes, at roughly ten dollars per student per class, were always full - an average of 25 people per class, so one would think there was a fair profit/expense margin) and I did try my best to comply to the wishes of the owners, without denying my basis understanding of yoga, as taught in my teachers training course and through my ten year relationship with my discipline.  Ultimately, my understanding of yoga was not a good fit for this studio, and I was let go in an email that sited my attitude as the reason for my removal from the studio, stating, "you to have the potential to be an outstanding teacher, but your attitude at the studio and around business decisions" has effectively lead to your termination. I was also encouraged never to return.

I'm not here to air my dirty laundry, but the description above will help with the argument I am developing. It seems obvious to me that a person who is good at their job should not be 'let go' because they do not share the same attitude as their employers. Similarly, a person who is committed to their 'practice', does not need money to have a continued relationship with said practice. I'm in an interesting position at the beginning of the Year of the Snake, where both of my jobs, and (unfortunately) my entire income, are deeply rooted in my passions. Some people are never so lucky! There is not a day that passes where I pine for another life, another moment, other than the one I am in. I don't check my seniority or my retirement date because I am happy; right here, right now... But, when your making money from your passions an interesting thing happens. Your passions are suddenly controlled by your pay check and vice versa... And that IS a tricky business indeed.

(to be continued)...