March 27, 2006

There's No Escape

I’m not sure if I believe in destiny. I’m more of a free will kind of gal. But I do believe in the laws of karma – as in, I have been born into a certain set of circumstances in my life and the challenges and opportunities that will arise out of the circumstances are all part of the this karma and I can’t escape it. But I have the free will to work with and through and over and around the karma I’ve been given so that I don’t have to keep repeating it in the future. That said, I’m not quite sure where bad habits fall into the picture, as there are certainly some I can’t escape (like coffee) and new ones are always cropping up (like my recent addiction to internet gossip sites) but I digress…

Well apparently at this moment in my life teaching yoga is part of my karma that I can’t escape. And I’m not entirely sure what to do with it. When I left New York and the yoga schools I really didn’t have much interest in teaching. At least not anytime soon. I didn’t even think it would be something I would have to decide due to the language barrier. But when we got here, and sure enough a friend had a friend who knew the owner of a big yoga school, and while I understood about 25% of the conversations on the topic, this friend got involved and phone numbers were exchanged and invitations were extended and I was brought about like a puppy on a string – the Americana, the professora de yoga de Nova Iorque, o-la-la. I took a few classes at the school. The folks were nice, the classes good – lightweight compared to the smorgasbord of fabulous classes in NYC, but solid and intelligent. Then next thing I know my mat is being drug to the front of the class and I’m being instructed to teach. I tried to pretend I didn’t understand (really I didn’t, how often does it happen that you show up to take a class and you are immediately told to teach it. Further more how often does that happen when you can barely speak your telephone number in the language everyone is expecting you to teach in?) but there was no stopping this karma.

That was September and now I find myself very involved with the Shakti Yoga Center. I teach, I’ve cleaned up their administrative systems, and doled out all kinds of advice on workshop programming, events, advertising, etc., etc. I teach three classes only, plus one more pre-natal that I am desperate to escape from (they terrify me those pregnant women…), and they would have me teaching more, but seriously, the language is a problem. Patricia and Cadu, the owners keep telling me it isn’t and to just speak in English if I can’t say it in Portuguese, which is all fine and well, except no one understands me. I agonize and totally stress out before each class and nitpick over all my mistakes after. It’s so humbling to have your main vehicle for expression taken away. I have maybe 1% of the vocabulary I used when teaching in English. And I’ve now realized how egotistical I was as a teacher in English. I loved to throw around my words, paint the class with my metaphors. I got such a high out of it. And now I’m a baby learning to walk all over again. Anyway, I had no ambition to teach here, and it seems I can’t get away from it.

This past weekend the Shakti’s hosted a workshop by an American yoga teacher named Joseph LePage. He lives here in Brazil, and his wife Lillian is also a teacher. The two of them together run the
Enchanted Mountain yoga retreat in the South of Brazil, and teach a training program Integrative Yoga Therapy both there and in the US. I believe he came out of the Kripalu tradition, among other paths and studies. Anyway, they’re both very experienced and knowledgeable yogis – sweet and humble with a lot to offer. They’ve really pioneered teacher training here in Brazil, and seems that nearly every yogi I’ve met so far has done their training with him. The workshop Shakti hosted was a huge hit. Nearly 30 people showed up and paid good $ to attend. I helped out of course and sat in on it. You might notice that the hotel conference room that they school rented bears a little resemblance to the old Movement Arts Center.

At the close of the workshop Joseph and C and myself led a little kirtan. And afterwards he and I spoke a little and he invited me to come to his center and attend his next training program for free, with the idea that once I know his approach and he knows me better and all goes well, that I could work with him in future trainings as an asana teacher.

These things keep falling in my lap. Apparently no one is noticing my indifference to being a yoga teacher, which seems to be serving me well. And after the hustle you have to have to make it in New York -- as a yoga teacher or anything else - it's kind of a relief to just stand back and let things happen on their own. I guess the universe is pushing me in this direction, so I better deal with my karma. Could be worse I suppose. Now if I could only figure out how to quit coffee.

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