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CHUGGA CHUGGA

Cindy Maddera

Yesterday morning, I went out to start my car and the engine went "whir whir whir.....clickety clickety...ugh ugh ugh." I had a moment of panic before turning the key in the ignition again. Finally, on the third try, the engine puttered to life. My car is paid off in March (or April...something like that). My plan is to drive this car until the wheels fall off, but my plans and Murphy's Law don't always match up. So when there's a moment of starting hesitation, I get a little bit nauseous. Really, the only reason the engine struggled is because it is so awfully horribly cold outside. It really is the worst and I just go on and on about how one day I will retire to some place warm. I don't even care if it ends up being Florida. 

Once the car warmed up to a drivable temperature, I headed off to teach my first yoga class of the new year. I've been dreaming about teaching yoga. Really...not figuratively. I told you about the dream where I was teaching yoga in a room that had a potato bar (I still think Yogatado would be a great studio/restaurant idea). A few nights later I dreamed that I was teaching yoga in a space that was also hosting a birthday party. It was very loud and I had to shout. There were kids running around in between yoga mats. This dream turned out to be not too far off of reality. The space where I am teaching is an open space that also holds the free weights. A partial wall separates the room from the rest of the gym. You can hear everything from the work out area and people walk into the class area to get weights or just wander around. I totally had to yell to my students. 

When I first started teaching yoga to my coworkers at my old job, we had a hard time finding a class space. We ended up in stairwell. You opened the door and immediately to your left was a staircase but to the right of that staircase there was a closet/storage space. It mostly held a stack of folding chairs that fit under the stairs, leaving the rest of the floor area open for yoga mats. It was drafty or steamy depending on outside temperatures and occasionally someone would walk in to actually use the stairs or more likely hoping to use that space to make a personal phone call. I made a little sign to place on the doorknob outside whenever we were having class to warn people that yoga was happening in that room. Later on, I would end up teaching in real classrooms and yoga studios, but I never gave up the stairwell space for my coworker classes. 

I've been nervous and apprehensive about teaching yoga again after all this time of not teaching. The new teaching environment to most yoga teachers does not sound ideal, but to me, it's perfectly normal. In fact it was almost comforting to teach my first class of the new year after a five year hiatus in this noisy open space. It is familiar, which I know sounds crazy. One doesn't really link noisy open spaces with yoga. I see it as the perfect environment for teaching a student to be fully present on their mat and to guard their senses for relaxation. Because outside, in our every day lives, our environment is not ideal. I don't just mean the temperature, though saying the current temps are not ideal is being polite. Our world is busy with sights and sounds and things that make us uncomfortable. I don't necessarily want to teach people how to ignore all of this. Some times we need to be uncomfortable. I do want to teach people how to approach all of it with calmness though. This is a lesson that I needed to be reminded of, the practice of taking our yoga off the mat and into our daily life.

It is one thing to do yoga, but quite another to be yoga.