01 August 2012

fat girl does down dog

Bit of blogkeeping: On Monday I joined the big leagues and purchased a custom domain! So if you would all be so kind as to update your links/bookmarks to www.theyearofthephoenix.com. Merci!

Before I begin, let me stress that I love being a librarian. I've been working in libraries since I was seventeen years old, when I started as a page at the Stars Hollow Public Library. I love research and the challenge of finding information. I love assisting the students at my college. I love my college. I love being able to say I used to be a prison librarian; makes me quite popular at parties, let me tell ya. Oh, and did I mention that I have been working in libraries since I was seventeen? It's a bit of a calling, you see.

And, yet, I often wonder if a person can have two callings. Because lately I have flirted with the idea of running away and becoming a yoga instructor.

Wheel or Upward Bow

According to the BMI Chart (and I'll spare you all my rant on this antiquated system of health measurement), I am "obese." Yup, lose 98 pounds and still be obese which tells you how bad it was before (fairly certain that at 311 lbs I was in the "morbidly obese" category). In fact, even when I hit my goal weight of 160 I'll still only be in the "overweight" category. My recommended high-weight is 150 and I honestly picked 160 out of thin air. It seems like a weight I can maintain plus I should still have my curves. Those are my two biggest factors in deciding the right weight for me: Maintainability and curvyliciousness.

True story.

Because, see, I like my curves. I own my curves. And I'm not going to sacrifice them 'cause some stupid chart tells me to.

Learning to own my curves, however, hasn't been easy. Not when you have more than you should and curve in places you don't want to. But one thing that has helped more than anything else has been Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga and The Studio. I'm also fairly certain that weekly yoga classes have defined said curves. Even in high-school when I weighed less or in college when I did Weight Watchers for the first time and got down to 220, I don't ever remember having such a tiny waist that I could feel bone when I put my hands on my hips. 

Bow

You know that feeling when you have friends you've only known for a couple of years, yet you honestly can't remember what your life was like before them? That's how it feels at The Studio. They are like a second family and have always been incredibly supportive of my size, whether it was me at 250 when I took my first Ashtanga class or the me that is slowly shrinking. My weight has never been an issue and all modifications I require are because of flexibility, not size. (Well, except for that whole suffocation thing.)

This was not always the case. About a year ago I visited my first studio and the experience left me feeling disheartened and disappointed. It was nothing overt, but the entire time I got this very, very subtle vibe from the instructor like she was less than thrilled at having a fat girl in her class. As though she didn't know what to do with me. Some of my inherent flexibility seemed to surprise her, even going so far as to say "Wow, you really are flexible!" like she thought I had been lying before when I first mentioned it.

It turned me off from yoga for a few months, until last November when my family was in Las Vegas for my birthday. I started my 30th year at a yoga class at Caesar's Palace that I had dragged Sissy to. I'm so glad I did, though, because it left me feeling energized and elated. The instructor, Swami Ramananda, was welcoming and accepting, which probably comes with the territory in a city like Vegas. I knew that was what yoga was supposed to feel like and I was determined to recapture it, even if it meant visiting every single studio in all the Land of Cleves. Luckily, I only had to visit one.

Wide-Legged Forward Bend

Discovering yoga has helped me rediscover myself. I really don't know how else to put it. Through yoga I have reconnected with my body, hearing it and listening to what it tells me. I have found self-acceptance and self-confidence and have learned that magic can happen on the mat. I love watching and experiencing the positive changes my body produces and proving that you don't have to be thin to be a yogi. I want to take my own personal experiences off the mat and share it with others. If anyone knows what it's like to walk into a yoga studio as a self-conscious fat person, it's me. If anyone knows how necessary it is to have a safe space, it's me. And if anyone knows the transformative power of the poses, it's also me.

I want to be able to share my story and say I know where you are, I know where you've been. I want to let them know that yoga isn't just about exercise or fitness or losing weight. It's about the meeting of mind and body. It's about honoring the body. It's about setting intentions and finding peace. It's about challenging yourself and knowing that having limitations is okay. If nothing else, it's always about at least trying. Who the hell cares if you fall on your ass? Because, seriously, we've all been there. Happened to me this past Saturday, in fact. And you know what I did? I laughed. As my dear friend and fellow practioner John said, "Come, let us not be pretty at it together."

What yoga is not, and has never been, about is the number on the scale. Truthfully I often feel like a curvy yoga ambassador -- proving that size doesn't have to be a barrier to a successful practice. I am fully aware that I don't look like your "typical" yoga follower, yet any ol' time I want to lean over and put my head on the floor I can. So, to get all librarian cliched on you, don't judge a book by its cover. And if there is one sure way to get that message out, it would be by becoming a teacher.

Butterfly or Bound Angle Pose

All of that being said, as much as I really want to embark on this adventure, right now it's not exactly financially feasible. Teacher training costs money, yo. And, as I mentioned in the beginning, I really do love my job and being a librarian (or, as a friend put on Twitter the other day, a "library scientist"). I don't know if doing both would be feasible and I'm not willing to give up my current career just yet.

If nothing else, the fact that I can't currently afford it might be a good thing. Gives me time to figure out a plan and weigh my options. Back in December when I walked into my first Ashtanga class I never would have guessed it would have such a powerful hold on me, enough that I'm considering yoga teacher certification. But now that I have the idea in my head, I just can't let it  go.

Plus, the idea of being required to wear yoga pants to work is rather appealing.

Any yoga instructors (or future instructors) out there have any advice? Am I crazy for considering giving up a profession I love for something completely different?  

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

23 comments:

  1. Don't give up your profession for yoga. I am a yoga teacher and it can be very hard to make ends meet & there is a lot of politics in teaching yoga as well. Best to slowly inch your way into it. Loved the blog. Good luck.

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    1. And that was my other concern -- finances *after* becoming a teacher. I don't know if I could entirely give up being a librarian, but your comment certainly confirms that I need to really think about this!

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  2. Library Scientist - love it! I think it's good that you take more time to consider it. I've always wanted to do it, but like you, I don't have the funds. What studio do you go to? xo

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    1. I do wish I could take credit for the Library Scientist, but it was someone much cleverer than myself ;)

      And I go to The Studio Cleveland, East Bank of the Flats.

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  3. "Discovering yoga has helped me rediscover myself. I really don't know how else to put it." YES! To me, this is the whole thing in a nutshell. Love it!

    As for becoming a teacher, I don't think that's a crazy idea at all! Like one of the commenters suggested above, I do think it's a great idea to start it off as a side gig and then see how it goes from there. That might be an awesome way to keep doing both things you love -- librarian and yoga teacher! Also, many programs offer payment plans so you can spread the financial commitment out. It's still a commitment for sure, but paying over the course of 6 months (or however long) definitely makes it more feasible than it might otherwise be.

    Yay for being a Curvy Yoga ambassador! LOVE these pics!

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    1. One of the programs in my area I was looking at actually did mention a payment plan, so that might be more manageable.

      And the pictures were probably my favorite part of writing this post :)

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  4. Have you ever considered starting a "Yoga for Round Bodies" sort of class? The lady who started that in Toronto is doing WILDLY well, because it's accessible to women who wouldn't normally feel comfortable doing Yoga, and there are a LOT of those women (including me! If I could afford Yoga for Round Bodies, I'd be there!).

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    1. That's actually the mission behind Anna (comment above you) and Curvy Yoga :) You should check out her website and blog, www.curvyyoga.com, there is a ton of info on there!

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    2. I will definitely check that out! Do you find that it stretches your legs well?

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    3. Yoga? Ohmygosh yes. For me it's mostly in my thighs, after that first class my legs ached for days. But, in a good way, y'know? Even now, if I miss more than one or two weeks in a row, when I go back I get that ache again after.

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  5. You rock, friend! I think you'd be an awesome yoga instructor and that people would LOVE coming to a class led by you. :)

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  6. So I updated my blog roll, but it has an x next to your URL, so something isn't happy. I'll try again tomorrow. Just didn't want you to be offended if you didn't see your link on our blog.

    I think you would be a fantastic yoga instructor. But I don't think you should quit your day job just yet (in my humble opinion). We have a yoga school up the street from us and I looked into taking classes there to become an instructor as well. They make it manageable payment wise, but I as I was looking and digging around for more info on becoming an RYT, I got a lot of people who said that until you really build up your credibility and popularity as an instructor, it's hard to do it full time. I'm sure you'd gain popularity quickly with your enthusiasm and story though. :-)

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    1. Oh, I wouldn't quit. It was more just the idea of going from one career to something totally different. Like, once I became a librarian I kind of thought Okay, this is it. The idea of venturing into something totally new never ever crossed my mind. Yet now I really can't get the idea out of my head!

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  7. To go along with what others have indicated, being a yoga teacher can be an excellent way counterpart to your current career. But I know many people that go through TT for the experience - not to become a certified teacher. I would recommend it to anyone if they have the time and funds.

    Most TTs have payment plans. You just have to ask the management about the details of theirs.

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    1. Several schools mentioned that, actually: taking the class for the experience, not necessarily to teach.

      But I will definitely look into payment plans. Thank you!

      Delete
  8. I think you'd be great at it! Seriously. I'd take your class. ;-)

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  9. Well, you should definitely get certified. You don't have to open your own studio with the certification. My yoga instructor is a graphic designer by day but works with several studios and YMCAs in the mornings and evenings to make a good living teaching classes as well as her day job. I think people would REALLY want to take your class, but many of the people who would be inspired by story also have day jobs and would take morning or evening classes. Best of both worlds. Then, if you LOVE it, you can take the plunge and open your own studio. Most Y's and studios would let you bill your class as you wanted at their facility, though.

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    1. Somehow the idea of "moonlighting" or being a freelance yoga instructor never occurred to me, but the more people suggest it the more it makes perfect sense.

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  10. Oh, and said instructor also gets a few free vacations a year by being a yoga instructor for a major cruise line and committed to a few cruises per year. ;-)

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  11. Okay, first I just want to tell you that I was just visiting from Tricia's (Mama Marchand's) blog, and found that I LOVE THIS PLACE!!! (!!!!) I think that we may be kindred spirits...
    I can weigh-in on this topic (no pun intended.) About 6 years ago I began a journey where I dropped 80 lbs by changing my habits. My fitness drug of choice is Zumba Fitness. I loved it so much, in fact, that after a few years I became a certified instructor. Like many have said here, I do not recommend quitting your day job, but rather getting certified and then "moonlighting" in someone else's studio to see where it takes you. If it continues to grow, then by all means you may want to make that your primary occupation.
    Personally, I am an engineer by day and a Zumba Fitness instructor by night. For me it's a great combo. :-)
    If you'd like to chat about some of the things I've learned along the way, or tips for how to start your own class, I'd by happy to chat!
    tiff(dot)r(dot)brand(at)gmail(dot)com

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