“Hi. My name is Jodeen and I am a recovering yoga teacher.”
It started innocently enough, 24 years ago in Los Angeles. I was working at Paramount Studios, and saw a flyer promoting an employee yoga class.
I was 31. I had never taken a yoga class. It was $5.00. I went.
It was a hard-core vinyasa class, taught in an unventilated storage room, on wafer-thin, biohazard yoga mats placed end to end, occupied by over 20 people. The teacher was an impressive combination of strong attention to alignment and Joseph Campbell soul musings.
It was one of the hardest activities I had ever engaged in, and as I lay in a pool of my own sweat on that shitty little mat, I wept, as if something had been cracked open inside of me. I walked back to my office high as a kite.
Never had the sky been so blue, the clouds so white. My first fix.
Yoga for me was Meta: The Most Effective Tactic Available to navigate life as a human on this planet. It was a way of being in my skin and aligned with my breath that had never crossed my mind. Finding the stillness in the movement and the dynamism in repose. The simplicity and the power of that changed my life.
I have often said, “Yoga will f*** you up,” and it does. Marriages and relationships unravel, jobs change, priorities shift.
Once you lift up the rock and look underneath, you cannot un-see what is there.
There is an evangelical glee we yogis have. You want to tell anyone who will listen or even pretend to listen, how it has been a life raft for you. Kind of like someone who is newly sober, or a born-again Christian. Or a vegetarian. Often we want to teach in order to spread the gospel.
You teach six classes of your own a week, and sub classes, and take classes, and you can hardly believe how lucky you are to get paid to tend to your physical and emotional well-being and help others. Amazing! Students tell you how your classes have moved them and given them strength. This explodes your heart. You are so grateful to be part of that experience. Not responsible for it, but witness to it. You make yourself available to coffees, lunches, mentoring, and you feel like it is your job to be endlessly available to everyone, because look how amazing your life is, you need to share the goodness. You owe it to everyone because you are so lucky.
Then it starts to feel like you have opened a vein.
This has nothing to do with your students and everything to do with your inability to draw boundaries. You clearly have some work to do.
You begin to feel spread too thin, vibrating at too high a frequency. And then you get cancer. Again. For the third time, and you think…hmm? Ironic coincidence?
Although there are centrifugal tree rings of reasons behind my stepping away from teaching yoga (other stories), this is the big one. It didn’t feel healthy to continue. I listened.
I inhale. I exhale. I say, “Thank you.”
My yoga practice allowed me to be able to sit quietly and let my cancer treatment be my job. I don’t know how I would have done it without the foundation my practice laid for me.
I still do yoga every day, all of the time. Just not on a mat.