I’ve never said ‘STFU’ to anyone.  Mainly because if you were to say, “S-T-F-U” out loud, well, you would just sound stupid.  I’ve also never said, “Shut the f*** up” to anyone… oh, well, there were those mere 102 times but that hardly counts and I’ve never said it to my yoga students.  I’ve never even thought about saying that my yoga students.  Yet, I recently came across an article where a yoga teacher goes on to say, from what I could understand of it, that she sometimes feels like telling her students to: STFU and that she has actually snapped at her students.  Seriously?  I get that we all have ‘limits’, however, my yoga classes are not places where I decide to unleash fury.  Wearing a tank top, yoga pants, and a red angry face don’t really say “yoga” or “om” to me and I’m not sure if my students would have cowered or laughed (I’m thinking the latter).  I like to torture them in other ways like, “ok my yogis and yoginis!  we are going to hold this pose for-EVER”.  This would give me a giggle and give them the chance to unleash their own fury in my general direction.  It’s all good, I can handle it. What became my biggest obstacle with teaching yoga and I haven’t really shared this with everyone… so I might as well share it with EVERYONE, is that I had a hard time finding a ‘place’ for myself.  I would see the other yoga teachers completely high on their om’s and talking as if not a single hateful thought had ever breached the bright light of their 3rd eye.  I would secretly wonder if they went home to kick their dogs. I would show up nearly every morning, shaking, white knuckled over some asshole who’d pulled out in front of me (since I obviously OWN the entire highway) while I was driving recklessly to get to class.  As if!  Imagining that suddenly my car was a tank and I could somehow run this person over for having committed the horrible crime of interrupting my  need for speed.  Breathe.  (I actually own 3 shirts that say, well, they don’t actually speak, t-shirts don’t talk, but ‘read’ “breathe”).   Yet, I watched in awe and listened to my own yoga teachers and their very zen like qualities of speech… how graceful they moved and how almost ‘angelic’ they seemed and it all just made me want to punch a pillow. I’ve bought books on ‘how to be a better yoga teacher’, how to find your inner ‘om’, how to balance your chakras, Buddhism, Buddha, Mudras, Peace, Peace and Love, Peace and Light, Ashtanga Yoga, Yin and Yang yoga (just about any kind of yoga style you can imagine).  I became Reiki certified, although, it still seems odd to me that  I could be “certified” in something so important that could be attained in one afternoon.  This is perhaps where I struggled with my yoga teaching the most.  Teaching yoga seemed like this amazing gift that I could give to others.  I am not a ‘yoga expert’, I can’t bend myself into a pretzel even though I am flexible (depending on the day), and I love each and every one of my students…. With the exception of the one lady who decided to protest my class (in the middle of it) by standing at her mat, arms crossed, glaring at me (I might not love you too much, lady), but, I also didn’t become angry with her.  In fact, what I found to be interesting was this strange ‘pull for power’ that I felt in the immediate students around her.  It was almost as if they weren’t sure what to do and kept looking back and forth between us trying to decide who to follow.  There are some things that I feel fiercely about… making someone participate in class is not one of them.  Plus, she took my class again about 6 months later and came up and told me that it was the best class she’d ever had.  Victory! Yoga teachers are, I don’t want to say ‘required’, but, you definitely sense that you are held to a much, much higher standard than others.  There are rules to follow (being a vegetarian one of them, although, not everyone follows this) and I was constantly beating myself up for eating chicken…. which is practically vegetarian if it only consumes seeds in its lifetime, right??, for feeling the need to play some kind of get-from-my-house-to-yoga-class-faster-than-the-last-time game, for just not attaining some brighter ‘light’.  But the truth is – I’m not really comfortable in the “all Zen” area.  I tend to embrace the Warrior side of yoga a bit more enthusiastically.  Is this a bad thing?  hell no… and if you care to argue with me then I’ve got 4 letters for you “STFU”.  You can make fun of me later for actually saying the letters as opposed to the words (I really don’t like to swear at people) and then, maybe afterwards we can rub our 3rd eyes together and practice our “Oms”.  😀

Every week I think about what challenge we might do… wanting it to be something that is both challenging but still give you the opportunity to have the experience of changing a small part of your life a week at a time.

So, for this week the challenge that kept coming to mind over and over was:  Fear.  We all have those things we fear.  Some of the fears are realized and sometimes unfounded… but, nevertheless, they still keep us from doing things in our life that we might want to.

This weekend, I attended a workshop on inversions (getting upside down) and arm balances (yoga).  One of the fears I’ve always had is falling.  I put what was around 900 lbs. of pressure on my knee when I was skiing once because of this fear and ended up seriously injuring myself.

I’m not sure where my fear of falling originated, but, it kept me from learning to ride a bike until I was almost 10.  That’s something I’m actually quite embarrassed about and now have shared it with the world… yikes ;).  It kept me from getting better at rollerblading and skiing.  Climbing down anything steep (loose rock especially) is almost impossible for me and it’s something I wish didn’t have such a hold on my life.

During the workshop I had a chance to try the pose that has become the hardest (most fearful) for me.  Forearm balance.  I’d fallen on my face a couple of times attempting this pose and never had the chance to try it again (with assistance).  My heart was beating so fast!  I think our teacher sensed my fear (could have been my wild-eyed expression of fear…lol) and walked over to help.  I got one leg up…. then, the other… and…. fell on my face… ungracefully.  He told me to try it again.  I didn’t want to.  I sat adjusting the block in front of me while breathing deeply trying to calm myself.  I made it up in my mind to do the pose and not fall.  I knew that meant adjusting my shoulder placement and really focusing on keeping my arms strong… and… I was up!  Terrified… but up 🙂

The pose still scares me.  I’m not confident with it but it’s something I really want to know how to do.  So, this week, every day… I’m going to attempt to do it.  I reserve the right to quit on a day that I break my nose 🙂

So, what is it that you are afraid of?  And, if your fear truly warranted?  Are you in physical danger?  If not, then, this week’s challenge will be to find that one thing you are afraid of and do it every day.  You can do it once… but, you aren’t going to master it unless you continue to make yourself do it.

Challenge starts Monday.

Also, I am not a doctor so if you have any questions or concerns please contact him or her before doing any challenge.

Love and Happiness, Jen