(Note: When I created this blog, I wanted it to be not only a place to share my strengths, but most importantly, a place to share my struggles. It’s easy to think that the teacher has it all together, that he/she is living the Yoga without any inner conflict whatsoever. Part of my path as a teacher is to be honest and share my struggles, so that it will hopefully help someone else who is wrestling with all of this, too. It would have been a huge help for me to read of others’ processes as they move through this work of deep transformation, rather than reading only the strengths or only the insights that came from the conflict. In this light, I’m sharing an experience I had yesterday. Love and peace, Carie)
Today was the worst morning I have had in quite a long time. I arrived for my third Saturday morning class at the new yoga studio, excited to share my love of Freedom Style Yoga, and looking forward to a spirit-filled experience of being in a room full of people courageously following their inner guidance. Ah, it’s such an exquisite feeling to be immersed in a room full of that. It’s inspiring, renewing, and deeply healing. As the minutes ticked down toward 9:30, no one walked through the door of Studio 1 where I was. 9:35…nobody. Zero people showed up to my class. There were 20 in the studio on the other side of the wall, and there were 18 in the class after mine. For me? Absolutely zero.
And an absolute zero is exactly what I felt like. My autopilot pattern is to spin something like this into evidence of my worth as a teacher: I suck and nobody on the planet is interested in what I have to share. I closed the door and sat on my mat, looking out through the frosted window walls as silhouettes with mat bags made their way toward the building, for another class besides mine, and just let the tears flow. I’ve learned over the years that this work of living the Yoga isn’t work I do alone and in moments like these I have a choice: I can thrash around in an eddy of this or I can reach out for a lifeline to help get myself back into calm waters. So, I texted one of my closest friends in Virginia for help in getting out of this quickly spinning whirlpool. Thank God for my friends, who remind me who I am when I so easily forget.
I got a Kleenex and began rolling up my mat when the image hit me: The Island of Misfit Toys. This was a scene from that old children’s TV Christmas classic, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. The Island of Misfit Toys was an island where all the toys nobody wanted went; toys that were not perfect, toys that were discarded in favor of newer and fancier ones, toys that didn’t fit in, toys that other people didn’t understand…like a cowboy who rides an ostrich instead of a horse, and a “Charlie-in the-box” instead of the usual “Jack-in-the-box.”
I feel like a toy on that island. More accurately, I feel like a yogi on the island of misfit yogis, except it seems that I’m the only yogi on the island. I wish I had a dollar for every time someone asked me what Freedom Style Yoga was; very few people in this region, except my already-established students, have even heard of it. Someone even suggested to me a couple of weeks ago that I change the name of my class to vinyasa flow, since nobody knows what Freedom Style Yoga is.
Today I seriously wondered about that. What else would I call it, anyway? FSY is what it is. And why should I call it something else – or worse, a something else that it’s not even remotely close to what I do? Freedom Style Yoga is what I do. It’s who I am. This style of yoga in which you cultivate the skill of inner listening and let yourself look for the feelings of rightness in the pose is all that I know. It’s a practice of giving expression to your deepest impulses and inner nudgings on the mat, so that it translates into living your life that way. Because we let the energy of Creation move through us and animate us, it’s a highly creative practice.This is what I have studied and practiced, and this is what I teach and how I live. I am definitely a “Carie-out-of the-box” and if I were a cowgirl, I think riding an eagle would be pretty cool.
Maybe this is the curse of being a creative person: that mantra of “nobody gets me.” It’s definitely my mantra on a day like today when zero people come to my class. Because what I’m teaching is new and different, it’s so easy to let “nobody gets me” be the banner over me as I eddy in the whirlpool of isolation. But I know it’s not true and I know I’m really not a misfit yogi on my own island. My friends get me. My regular students in already-established classes at another studio love practicing in a way that gives expression to their Truth. When I’m blessed enough to teach in different cities or states, those folks get it, too. The idea of Freedom Style Yoga is completely new to lots of people, I’m discovering; but it’s growing. 50 people or zero people in these new classes, I’m pressing on and I’m pioneering forward, come what may. I’m blessed to share what I am so passionate about with anyone who is interested, whenever they’re interested.
Time for this cowgirl to get back on her…eagle…and fly. Yee haw!