How The Grinch Found Yoga (and then found it again!)

Inspired by Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas

PART ONE

Every yogi in Yogaville liked yoga a lot….
But the Grinch, who lived just north of Yogaville, did not!
The Grinch hated yoga! The whole yoga culture!
Now, please don’t ask why. It would only be torture.
It could be his mind was closed a little too tight.
It could be, perhaps, that his breath was too slight.
But I think that the most likely reason could be,
He kept his heart protected, not allowing it to be free.

Whatever the reason, his heart or his mind.
He stood there that evening, not feeling very kind.

Staring into the studio, with the look of displease,
At the warm yoga bodies moving with such ease.
For he knew every yogi was perfecting their pose,
While looking their best in their fancy yoga clothes.
“And they’re standing on their hands,” he said with despair,
“Without a single strand moving, not one! In their hair!”

Their photos, their quotes, their Instagram postings!
The kale and kombucha, the juice cleanse hostings!
And soon, oh so soon, they would be yoga singing!
The sound of their OMs! Well, it would have his ears ringing!

Then he got an idea! A crazy idea!
This “unyogic” Grinch got a crazy idea!
The Grinch held his breath, not knowing what was in store.
He walked up to the studio, and opened the door…

The Grinch came from the outside and found his way in.
Which is often how many of us also begin.
He stepped onto a mat, without expectation.
The evolution was slow, but he found meditation.

And there on the mat, released of all drama.
The Grinch discovered more than only one of the yamas.
It just takes some presence, a trust in the self.
In mindful action, the Grinch found some wealth.

And the Grinch, with his grinch hands touching his toes,
looked around in amazement, thinking, “How could it be so?”

“It came without judgment! It came without goals!”
“It came without challenges, selfies or ‘no’s’!”
And he sat down a few moments, till his breath became longer.
His mind became quiet, his inner voice grew stronger.
“Maybe yoga,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a pose.”
“Maybe yoga… perhaps…is an exercise for the soul.”

And what happened then? Well…in Yogaville they say,
That the Grinch’s trapped heart broke open that day!
And the minute his heart didn’t feel quite such a mess,
His mind opened up too and he found yoga bliss.
And he stepped on his mat. Both feet firmly at home!
And he, he himself! The Grinch sang the last OM!

PART TWO

When last we left off in the Yogaville district,
The Grinch had found yoga; his heart optimistic.
Dedicated yogi he was, trekking to town every day.
Heading straight to the studio, never going astray.
One day in particular as he walked in with his mat,
A new flyer was posted, he stopped in his tracks.
With eyes growing wider, he lost his Grinch cool.
In bold letters, he read: Yoga Teacher School!

Then the teacher strolled in, the breathing started.
The practice began, his effort half-hearted.
His mind so distracted, excitement barely contained.
He remained calm on the outside. The inside he strained.
And the more the Grinch thought of this whole teaching thing,
The more the Grinch knew he must do this TRAINING!
And the longer he pondered, with wheels endlessly turning,
His head grew bigger, his ego mindlessly yearning.
“Why, for two years now I’ve come to this space!
I know I can do it, I can take over this place!
I will be the best teacher this town’s ever known.
From miles they will come, they will build me a throne!”

So with focus and agenda, his journey began.
He studied and practiced, fine-tuned his grinchy plan.
Bought all the books, memorized all the right words.
Practiced the sequence, his goal never deferred.
And the day finally came, his certificate arrived.
He gave his dog a sly smile, and then a high five.
Of course, first on his list, doing what all legit teachers do,
He opened a Twitter account and a Facebook page too.
He took a few selfies; upside down in the snow.
Posted on Instagram with requisite yogic style prose.
He filmed YouTube videos, with his dog Max as his pupil.
It took only one day, and his followers quadrupled!

This was still not enough for his yogi star scheme,
The final touch was added, a completion of his dream.
A new studio he began building on top of Mount Crumpit.
He called it Grinch Yoga. Well, that pretty much summed it.

As he stood on his mountain, looking down at the town.
His shifty eyes landed on his final takedown.
Watching the yogis, the tall and the small,
Bustling to class, this would not do at all!
So just for good measure in the middle of the night,
The Grinch snuck into his old studio and stole everything in sight!
He took all of the mats! The candles for lighting!
The sign on the outside! His emotions delighting!
All the pictures on the wall! All the cubbies in the hall!
All the lights that were hanging! He left nothing installed!
He stole all of the schedules and workshop brochures.
Then he snatched his teacher’s notes, just to be sure!
And then, just in case, all that wasn’t sufficient,
He tweeted cruel words. A clearly grinchish decision.

And before you could say #yogaeverydamnday,
His new home was completed; Grinch Yoga here to stay.
He bounded through the door, new clothes on display.
Prepared to teach his first class, without any delay.
His teacher’s words mastered, his yoga jam cued.
Exuberant and giddy to the utmost magnitude.
With great confidence and ease, he patiently waited.
His ego, of course, ten sizes inflated!

He waited, and waited and waited all day.
But not ONE yoga student came, not ONE,
Through the doorway!
And there the Grinch remained, puzzling for hours.
No sense to be made. Why he had even planted fake flowers!

As he sat on his mat in deep contemplation,
He heard a soft noise, a humming vibration.
He looked out of his window; eyes followed the sound.
He shook in surprise as he gazed down at the crowd.
And he shook, and he shuddered at this most disturbing of views!
In the yoga studio he had emptied, the yoga class grew!
They twisted and turned and chanted away.
Nothing the Grinch did had ruined their day!

“No, it can’t be! I’ve done everything right!
Photos and followers! Hashtags and websites!
New floors and fresh paint, in the perfect location.
Thousands I spent on this yoga education!”

And then what the Grinch did, without even thinking,
He packed up old Max, crept to town, his pride shrinking.
He walked into the studio, well, some would say slunk.
But all would agree his high hopes had been sunk.
He looked at his teacher, Yogi Lyn Lou,
With questioning eyes, heavy heart, feeling blue.

And she tilted her head, raised an eyebrow.
Told him to sit and to get rid of his frown.
And with a slight wink, she proceeded to speak:

You can’t steal yoga, within is what you seek.

It’s not a fancy pose. It’s not rhyming prose.
It’s not a personal platform, for a Cirque du Soleil show.
Not matters the location or the color of the walls.
The flowers planted. The track lights installed.

Doesn’t matter the words strategically placed.
What matters are actions executed with grace.
Followers will follow, and likers will like.
But none of this matters if you behave with dislike.

For students to emerge you must teach from your heart.
It’s inside of you too; it just needs a jumpstart.
The only way out is to go through, the only way through is to go in.
You must do the hard work, stop believing your own spin.
Some days will be easy; others will not.
(On those days two words: tequila shot!)
It’s an on ongoing process this self-study thing,
But in the end, will be discovered the best kind of bling.
The glow from the inside will be quite distinct,
When your intentions and actions are completely in sync.

And the knowledge you search for, you already possess.
At this moment it is there, it just needs to be accessed.
Your purpose discovered. Clearly defined.
It is here my Grinch friend, you will find peace of mind.

And this wisdom you have cannot be shanghaied.
No matter what happens. Though, some will surely try.
Oh, they will try! Oh yes! They will TRY, TRY, TRY, TRY!
But when they go low it will teach you instead how to FLY!
Keep the focus on you and others won’t matter.
Silence you will find, trumps the meaningless chatter.

And it won’t be about selfies or how many likes.
Your followers on Facebook or a playlist contrived.
It won’t be something learned in two hundred hours.
Your silent voice inside contains all your power.
And it won’t be what’s trendy or Instagram fame.
Or the RYT letters you attach to your name.
Find the teacher inside, and the students will appear.
Not always an easy task. Trust yourself and don’t compare.

So, back to his mat went the Grinch and his Self.
Old Max snoozing soundly in his bed on the shelf.
His playlist deleted, his pride feeling cheated.
But the worst part of it all, his spirit depleted.
He got out of his head and started to work in.
It didn’t take long for the transformation to begin.
He found his way back to where he began.
And slowly let go of his grinchy yoga plan.
His ego grew weaker, his monkey mind meager.
His compassion expanded, mindfulness was eager.
His goals disappeared, replaced with intention.
And in this still space, he found his connection.

And what happened then? A revelation some say.
The door opened up, students walked in and stayed.
They laid down their mats, spaced barely an inch.
They all stood together, surrounding the Grinch.
And the Grinch looked around, not believing his eyes.
They finally opened up as he slowly realized…
“This teaching it seems doesn’t come from a book,
Not words that are mimicked or how a studio looks.
It’s not perfect alignment or music that rocks.
Not mastering poses or using five different props.
It’s not how you speak, or the way that you walk.
It’s in owning your truth and walking the talk.”

Then, the Grinch found his voice, and also his heart.
(A bit shaky at first, but an impressive good start.)
He guided the practice; they breathed and they flowed.
Compassion and honesty always in tow.

In unison, they moved. Together sang the last OM….
And there in his Self, the Grinch finally found home.

Love Dr. Seuss? Love yoga? Buy Lyn’s book, Om, the Poses You’ll Do!
Version 2
Available on Amazon.com

Yoga Teachers and Studio Owners: Let’s be sure to practice asteya, when sharing please give credit to the author.

Featured on Elephant Journal:
Read Part One and Part Two

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Truth Not Trends: Why I Teach


For My Dad

“Teach the truth, whether it fills the room or clears it out.”

As a yoga teacher, I have a choice: to give my students what they want or to give them what they need.

Trends or truth?

As a yoga studio owner, I have to find a balance. The teacher in me will give them what they need. The owner in me will give them just enough of what they want to keep them coming back. Well, maybe it won’t keep everyone coming back.

You see, for me, teaching yoga isn’t about instructing poses from the perspective of physical fitness. It’s about using the poses as a tool toward personal growth. There is a difference between leading a student through movements and exercises with impeccable cuing – a technical skill – and guiding them to use these movements and exercises as a path toward self-study and transformation.

In a nutshell, I use the pose as a tool not to get better on the mat, but to become better off the mat.

And just in case no one ever told you, self-study and transformation are not always fun. Which means, inevitably, it will piss off some people.

Of course, the yoga industry as a whole has changed a lot over the years since I first started my own yoga practice.

With the influx of social media sites, the emphasis is more and more about elevating the physical component and less and less about ethics and philosophy. (See #yogisofinstagram on Instagram.) Classes are often just fitness with “yoga” thrown into the title.

And no, I’m #sorrynotsorry, but posting on social media a thoughtful quote about how yoga is not about the pose while demonstrating a ridiculous pose where you practically have your head up your ass does not count. (See #hypocrisy.)

The philosophy has become downgraded. The pose has become upgraded. It’s what I like to call the dumbing down of yoga.

I guess I should backtrack just a bit. To understand where I am coming from, you need to know, well, where I came from. At least when it comes to my yoga background.

After working in the fitness industry for years, which included teaching aerobics, step, and spin classes and running an average of six miles per day, I started to get burned out. Shocking, I know. I lost my desire to run and my passion for teaching fitness classes. All of those things seemed so very…unsubstantial. And that’s when I stumbled upon yoga. My life changed. Or, I guess you could say, I woke up.

There weren’t any yoga studios nearby at the time. At least none teaching ashtanga yoga, which is what I was practicing. Because of this, I had to do a lot of reading and studying on my own, which I now look back on with gratitude. It opened me up to a yoga practice that went beyond the asana (pose). My attitude about everything changed. The way I looked at life, but also how I looked at myself. You know, it helped me be less of an asshole.

For me, teaching was a natural evolution. I figured if yoga helped to make me less of an asshole, it would help others be less of an asshole, too. Fewer assholes in the world make it a better place. #winning.

I didn’t put much thought into it. I just started teaching. I wanted to teach the physical part of yoga while incorporating the life-changing elements of it, too.

So, that’s what I did.

I mean, what’s better than that? You can work on a healthy body at the same time as you gain a healthier mind.

It’s interesting to look back at how it all evolved. I didn’t have a grand master plan. I just taught. Opportunities arose. Doors opened. I never had visions of yogi rock stardom (the fact that this is even a “thing” is what’s partly wrong with the industry right now). And even though I never had a desire to own my own yoga studio, here I am, owning my own yoga studio. (That’s a whole other story. You can read it in my upcoming book called Fuck This Shit: A Guide to Surviving the Yoga Business.)

I made a conscious decision to mold the business plan of my yoga studio on the same foundation and principles from which I teach. Rather than envision my studio as a service-based business, I built it on the concepts of growth and learning…a space where I encourage students to stop looking out for themselves and begin looking into themselves. Which is hard work.

Hard work can be a hard sell. Let’s face it, it’s probably not the most revenue friendly business plan.

Which brings me to this whole positivity movement thing that has seeped into some yoga classes and has contributed to the dumbing-down process.

Listen, I’m all in support of trying to keep a positive attitude. But this idea that to live a fulfilling life, we need to be happy all the time, that we should suppress any negative emotions we might have, and nothing but good things will be in store if we do because our positivity will surely keep all the bad things away is, well, f’ing stupid.

As humans, we have a wide range of emotions. We should be allowed to freely embrace them all and be encouraged to work through them. We shouldn’t be made to feel bad because we feel, well, bad. When we don’t work through them, that’s when the problems start. I mean, when I’ve been sad it was because I cared, when I’ve been angry it was often because I had self-respect and values, when I’ve been heartbroken it was because I had the ability to love. I think we can all agree that those are good things. Things that are never easy. But we eventually do move forward, if we allow ourselves to fully feel them.

To me, it is more about redirecting negative emotions into positive energy. We can’t control how others behave or events that happen around us. We do have the power to control how we respond. So perhaps anger does not become hate, sadness does not become depression, with the understanding that we might not be able to just snap our fingers and “let it go.” Moving through the process of feeling these emotions is important, or they will never be resolved and keep coming back. We might have to do some hard work. Some soul searching. Some self-study.

The only way out is through, right?

So, while offering a 60-minute yoga class (and do not get me started on this new trend of shorter yoga classes!) that includes a rocking playlist for you to tune out to with a guaranteed sweat and good time might be better for my business, well, then I would have to ask myself what business am I actually in. A gym or a yoga studio? Performing exercises or transforming the mind? Am I cheerleader or an educator?

I think there is always a time and a place to put life aside and tune out completely. As a matter of fact, I think it’s necessary that we all make time for that. It’s healthy to take a pause in life, and it serves a purpose. But at some point, you have to hit that play button again. Because reality always has a way of catching up to you.

That’s where a yoga practice comes in. And that’s why I teach. Because yoga is not about tuning out. Yoga, by definition, is about tuning in.

When I look back at all the teachers in my life, the ones that stand out are the ones that made me do the work. They were tough but kind. They didn’t coddle me, but I knew I was in a safe and supportive environment. They often said things I didn’t want to hear…hard truths about myself I was trying to avoid.

My father was a teacher. So maybe that’s why I have such a strong opinion about what teaching means and entails, whether it is physics or yoga. He passed away when I was just 21, long before I had discovered that there was a teacher inside of me, too. I came across a tribute to him in the newspaper at the high school where he taught. One of his students said:

“There are two sides to Mr. Gerfin. There was Mr. Gerfin the teacher, and Mr. Gerfin, the friend. Sometimes one side would show more than the other, but for the most part, the two sides would balance one another. Mr. Gerfin the teacher would push you to do your best, make you understand the material and often test your patience. Mr. Gerfin the friend would reassure you with his wit and mild manner. In a chat outside the class, he would put you at ease by throwing aside the teacher and joke around with you. You always got the impression that he was on your side.”

I know for a fact that I often test my students’ patience and probably on occasion piss them off. I don’t sugarcoat, and I don’t believe in a lot of fluff. Shit, life is hard, and the universe very rarely sugarcoats. But I am also always on their side. Sometimes being supportive means being tough. It also means knowing that sometimes humor is needed to help make it through and lighten the load.

Tuning in is hard work, and I realize there will be those who walk into my class looking for a feel good 60-minute getaway and then walk right back out and never come back. And, that’s ok.

As a yoga teacher, it is my responsibility to create a safe and welcoming environment for my yoga students. But it is also my role to mentally push and challenge them to be their best self. Sometimes it will make them laugh. And sometimes it will make them uncomfortable.

When I step onto my mat to practice, it’s like going home. Going home to a house that’s usually a bit messy. If I don’t clean it up, the mess keeps getting worse. The clutter keeps piling up. And before I know it, I don’t recognize my home. I’m not always in the mood, but I know if I don’t clean it up, no one else will do it for me. The longer I wait to clean it up, the more likely I am to get lost in the mess.

And I know when my students step onto their mats, I do the best I can to help them clean up their own houses. I won’t be able to find what they are looking for or recommend what to throw out. Or even tell them which mess to clean up first, that’s for them to do. But I’ll be satisfied that if nothing else they find me a worthy guide. I might not always do it perfectly, but hopefully I can help them learn to deal with all of life’s ups and downs with a bit more grace and grit. And not lose themselves in the process.

Like that song says, you might not always get what you want. But if you are open to this practice we call yoga, you just might get what you need. And that, my friends, is substantial.

And from me, well, you will always get truth over trends. Purpose over popularity. Transforming over performing.

You in?

___________________________________________________________________________________________

For information about my teacher training program go HERE.
I am currently taking registrations for training that begins in September. Weekday and weekend schedules are available. Early bird discount until August 1.

 

 

 

 

 

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To Serendipity

 

To the telling of the truth.
To stories still untold.
To the uneasiness of honesty. Letting truths slowly unfold.

To the clearing of my closets.
Of people, not just things.
There’s no clarity in clutter, and my house is now scrubbed clean.

To the man behind the curtain,
Manipulating strings.
The ties have since been cut. I’m no longer your plaything.

You worked so hard to bring me down.
My voice you tried to stifle.
But no one tells me who I am. My self is never idle.
These boots have never steered me wrong.
And walking they sure did.
Out the door and far away from bullshit gone unbridled.

To the mess that settled after you.
The debris left in your wake.
I’ve repurposed all the litter. A stronger foundation I have made.

To those that cheered you on.
Kicked when I was down.
Karma is a bitch my friends; tends to slink slowly back around.
Teacher’s just a role you play.
Integrity out of reach.
For character is thinly veiled when you don’t practice what you preach.

To those that mocked my vision.
Popularity your goal.
It’s harder work to look inside and share what’s in one’s soul.

To those that spread the gossip.
The truth you never see.
Your thoughtless words describe you more than ever they will me.

To all the bricks thrown my way.
Mostly from behind.
I turned my bruises into the force that guides my state of mind.

To my fuck it bucket overflowed.
Gifts that kept on giving.
I removed the shackles I freely wore. A new story I have written.

To friends that stood behind me.
Cushioning the fall.
My heart may have been broken, but my spirit never stalled.
To unrelenting loyalty.
To unexpected tribes.
Your faithfulness stood steadfastly with the turning of the tides.

To those that showed me kindness.
No agenda in your thoughts.
My gratitude forever, good vibes cannot be bought.

To the stillness in my practice.
That saw me through the storm.
Embracing transformation over pressure to conform.

To the grace in waiting patiently.
For time to heal all wounds.
Forgiveness never guaranteed, so best to not assume.

To the power in a purpose.
Teaching truth and not the trends.
A harder path to follow when means matter more than ends.

To outcomes not expected.
Misfortunes turned to gifts.
They led me to this home I found; old dramas are not missed.
This story mine to tell.
The ending up to me.
To bridges burned, lessons learned and serendipity.

To the pages not yet written, I look forward to the tales.
To peace uninterrupted when my truth inside prevails.

To old acquaintance now forgotten.
To flames that long since died.
I raise a glass of kindness to moving on and days gone by.

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How The Grinch Found Yoga (Again!)

How The Grinch Found Yoga (Again!)

Inspired by Dr. Seuss, a true yogi.
Featured on elephant journal.

When last we left off in the Yogaville district,
The Grinch had found yoga; his heart optimistic.
Dedicated yogi he was, trekking to town every day.
Heading straight to the studio, never going astray.
One day in particular as he walked in with his mat,
A new flyer was posted, he stopped in his tracks.
With eyes growing wider, he lost his Grinch cool.
In bold letters, he read: Yoga Teacher School!

Then the teacher strolled in, the breathing started.
The practice began, his effort half-hearted.
His mind so distracted, excitement barely contained.
He remained calm on the outside. The inside he strained.
And the more the Grinch thought of this whole teaching thing,
The more the Grinch knew he must do this TRAINING!
And the longer he pondered, with wheels endlessly turning,
His head grew bigger, his ego mindlessly yearning.
“Why, for two years now I’ve come to this space!
I know I can do it, I can take over this place!
I will be the best teacher this town’s ever known.
From miles they will come, they will build me a throne!”

So with focus and agenda, his journey began.
He studied and practiced, fine-tuned his grinchy plan.
Bought all the books, memorized all the right words.
Practiced the sequence, his goal never deferred.
And the day finally came, his certificate arrived.
He gave his dog a sly smile, and then a high five.
Of course, first on his list, doing what all legit teachers do,
He opened a Twitter account and a Facebook page too.
He took a few selfies; upside down in the snow.
Posted on Instagram with requisite yogic style prose.
He filmed YouTube videos, with his dog Max as his pupil.
It took only one day, and his followers quadrupled!

This was still not enough for his yogi star scheme,
The final touch was added, a completion of his dream.
A new studio he began building on top of Mount Crumpit.
He called it Grinch Yoga. Well, that pretty much summed it.

As he stood on his mountain, looking down at the town.
His shifty eyes landed on his final takedown.
Watching the yogis, the tall and the small,
Bustling to class, this would not do at all!
So just for good measure in the middle of the night,
The Grinch snuck into his old studio and stole everything in sight!
He took all of the mats! The candles for lighting!
The sign on the outside! His emotions delighting!
All the pictures on the wall! All the cubbies in the hall!
All the lights that were hanging! He left nothing installed!
He stole all of the schedules and workshop brochures.
Then he snatched his teacher’s notes, just to be sure!
And then, just in case, all that wasn’t sufficient,
He tweeted cruel words. A clearly grinchish decision.

And before you could say #yogaeverydamnday,
His new home was completed; Grinch Yoga here to stay.
He bounded through the door, new clothes on display.
Prepared to teach his first class, without any delay.
His teacher’s words mastered, his yoga jam cued.
Exuberant and giddy to the utmost magnitude.
With great confidence and ease, he patiently waited.
His ego, of course, ten sizes inflated!

He waited, and waited and waited all day.
But not ONE yoga student came, not ONE,
Through the doorway!
And there the Grinch remained, puzzling for hours.
No sense to be made. Why he had even planted fake flowers!

As he sat on his mat in deep contemplation,
He heard a soft noise, a humming vibration.
He looked out of his window; eyes followed the sound.
He shook in surprise as he gazed down at the crowd.
And he shook, and he shuddered at this most disturbing of views!
In the yoga studio he had emptied, the yoga class grew!
They twisted and turned and chanted away.
Nothing the Grinch did had ruined their day!

“No, it can’t be! I’ve done everything right!
Photos and followers! Hashtags and websites!
New floors and fresh paint, in perfect location.
Thousands I spent on this yoga education!”

And then what the Grinch did, without even thinking,
He packed up old Max, crept to town, his pride shrinking.
He walked into the studio, well, some would say slunk.
But all would agree his high hopes had been sunk.
He looked at his teacher, Yogi Lyn Lou,
With questioning eyes, heavy heart, feeling blue.

And she tilted her head, raised an eyebrow.
Told him to sit and to get rid of his frown.
And with a slight wink, she proceeded to speak:

You can’t steal yoga, within is what you seek.

It’s not a fancy pose. It’s not rhyming prose.
It’s not a personal platform, for a Cirque du Soleil show.
Not matters the location or the color of the walls.
The flowers planted. The track lights installed.

Doesn’t matter the words strategically placed.
What matters are actions executed with grace.
Followers will follow, and likers will like.
But none of this matters if you behave with dislike.

For students to emerge you must teach from your heart.
It’s inside of you too; it just needs a jumpstart.
The only way out is to go through, the only way through is to go in.
You must do the hard work, stop believing your own spin.
Some days will be easy; others will not.
(On those days two words: tequila shot!)
It’s an on ongoing process this self-study thing,
But in the end, will be discovered the best kind of bling.
The glow from the inside will be quite distinct,
When your intentions and actions are completely in sync.

And the knowledge you search for, you already possess.
At this moment it is there, it just needs to be accessed.
Your purpose discovered. Clearly defined.
It is here my Grinch friend, you will find peace of mind.

And this wisdom you have cannot be shanghaied.
No matter what happens. Though, some will surely try.
Oh, they will try! Oh yes! They will TRY, TRY, TRY, TRY!
But when they go low it will teach you instead how to FLY!
Keep the focus on you and others won’t matter.
Silence you will find, trumps the meaningless chatter.

And it won’t be about selfies or how many likes.
Your followers on Facebook or a playlist contrived.
It won’t be something learned in two hundred hours.
Your silent voice inside contains all your power.
And it won’t be what’s trendy or Instagram fame.
Or the RYT letters you attach to your name.
Find the teacher inside, and the students will appear.
Not always an easy task. Trust yourself and don’t compare.

So, back to his mat went the Grinch and his Self.
Old Max snoozing soundly in his bed on the shelf.
His playlist deleted, his pride feeling cheated.
But the worst part of it all, his spirit depleted.
He got out of his head and started to work in.
It didn’t take long for the transformation to begin.
He found his way back to where he began.
And slowly let go of his grinchy yoga plan.
His ego grew weaker, his monkey mind meager.
His compassion expanded, mindfulness was eager.
His goals disappeared, replaced with intention.
And in this still space, he found his connection.

And what happened then? A revelation some say.
The door opened up, students walked in and stayed.
They laid down their mats, spaced barely an inch.
They all stood together, surrounding the Grinch.
And the Grinch looked around, not believing his eyes.
They finally opened up as he slowly realized…
“This teaching it seems doesn’t come from a book,
Not words that are mimicked or how a studio looks.
It’s not perfect alignment or music that rocks.
Not mastering poses or using five different props.
It’s not how you speak, or the way that you walk.
It’s in owning your truth and walking the talk.”

Then, the Grinch found his voice, and also his heart.
(A bit shaky at first, but an impressive good start.)
He guided the practice; they breathed and they flowed.
Compassion and honesty always in tow.

In unison, they moved. Together sang the last OM….
And there in his Self, the Grinch finally found home.

Love Dr. Seuss? Love Yoga? Buy Lyn’s book, Om, the Poses You’ll Do!
Version 2
Available on Amazon.com

Yoga Teachers and Studio Owners: Let’s be sure to practice asteya, when sharing please give credit to the author.
Photo Credit: Sarah_Ackerman/Flickr

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The Practice of Teaching: 3 more things every yoga teacher should know

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Read the Elephant Journal version HERE!

If practicing yoga is about more than just the pose, then so is teaching yoga.

And while we can be given tools to help us learn to instruct, teaching is something that will come from knowledge that is already inside of us.

When we first start teaching, it’s easy to get lost in the instructing and forego the teaching.

Instructing requires us to have a strong working knowledge of the body and a firm grip on proper alignment. The surface elements of the practice. All very important.

Teaching comes from the wisdom we have gained from our own personal experiences and our willingness to break open enough to be willing to share. It is not something that can be learned.

Instructing comes from the head. Teaching comes from the heart.

Often in my classes after giving detailed alignment of a pose, I then tell my students to just let all of that go. Stop trying to do the pose and allow yourself to just be in the pose.

When we step into the classroom to lead a class, it’s not much different than stepping onto our own mat to practice. Try not to get lost in the doing….

1. Don’t Compromise Your Foundation:

I constantly tell my students in class that the pose will only be as strong as the foundation they build it on. And nothing is worth sacrificing a calm, steady foundation. The same is true for teaching.

In asana practice it might start with a smooth, flowing breath. A stable, sturdy connection to the ground.

Our teaching foundation develops from what keeps us personally coming back to the mat. Day after day. That which we connect to.

There can be an overwhelming amount of information to be absorbed, and then expected to be applied during the training process. One of my first teachers told us to take what makes sense and throw the rest away. I hold onto that to this day. I stopped trying to teach the right way, and began teaching my way. The way that feels right for me.

This is found deep inside, an intuitive nature that speaks from the heart. Our truth.

Our teaching is only as strong as the foundation we build it on. Nothing is worth compromising this. No class, no studio, no job. And the fact is, when we let our authenticity shine through, all of those things will come.

Find your truth, the students will hear.

2. Focus more on the In and less on the Out:

One of the most challenging things I still find to this day when teaching, is to get students to let go of the outward focus of the practice (pose), and put more effort to understanding and beginning with the inward focus (breath). I try to emphasize if they trust the inner process, the outer process will begin to happen.

And as a newer teacher, it’s sometimes easy to get caught up with the same thing. Fearful of boring our students, we end up spending large amounts of time creating new sequences, interesting transitions or finding more challenging poses. Instructing begins to trump teaching.

The reality is, holding a student’s attention and keeping it interesting comes from teaching what is inside of us. Speaking directly from our hearts, our experiences. Channeling those experiences to make them relevant to our students, without making it about ourselves.

At my lowest points, I have been able to make the greatest connections with my students. I have walked into a classroom more times than I would like to remember thinking “how can I possibly hold my students up, when I can barely hold myself up?” At those times the only thing I had was my own practice. I had to be so firmly grounded, focused and present that only my truth at that moment could come out.

When we awaken our own inner teacher and let it free, our students will begin to find theirs too. This will not come from our sequence, but it will come from our words. Headstand and arm balances are not required. Raw honesty and continuous self study are. If we never stop working on the inside, guaranteed the outside will start to fall into place.

Find your inner teacher, and the students will follow.

3. It’s About the Process, Not the Destination:

There will always be three more things you need to know. And two years from now, five years from now and 10 years from now there will still be three, five, 10 more things you need to know….and that’s ok. I have been teaching for almost 20 years, and I hope I never get to a place where I feel there is nothing left to learn. I mean, if we are living how can we not be learning?

Just like our practice on the mat, teaching yoga is a process as well.  Each day it will be different and it always will be changing. It will never be perfect. And not always easy.

Give yourself a break in striving for the perfection of instructing. Allow yourself the imperfectness and freedom to teach.

Do less. Be more.

Instruct to exercise the body. But teach to exercise the soul.

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Lyn’s power yoga school is located in Ridgefield, CT where she offers mentoring and a 200 HR yoga teacher certification.