Why I’m no longer working for ‘The Man’

Emails have been sent, and contracts are being terminated.

Damn, it feels good.

I have chosen to no longer work with sports apps that underpay teachers, or as we’re calling them in Berlin, platform capitalism.

Although excellent products for their consumers, these apps are not so excellent for the people behind the service. Maybe you weren’t aware?

Just like that super cheap T-shirt is probably not made from ethically-sourced fabric, or by someone earning a decent wage.

Speaking of clothes, (and I’m totally guilty of this), it’s not uncommon for someone to spend 80€ plus on their yoga gear (hello Lululemon (I still love you)), but when it comes to spending their money on the actual yoga, all of a sudden, it’s far too expensive. Interesting.

There is so much free yoga available to the public. I myself offer new, free classes every week. And I’m a little fish in a very big pond of quality yoga, offered for free.

Maybe this is the reason people don’t want to pay? They’ve seen a similar offering for nothing.

So why pay your teachers?

Your yoga teacher is offering a service. They provide you with activity and movement for your body, they might also provide you with some spiritual teachings, and some could even help you resolve issues of the body and mind.

My Lulu’s can’t do that!

(They can, ssshh, I still love you).

Online sports apps have devalued what we do.

Being paid less than half the price of a drop in, and, on average, 30% less than a regular student pass, is just not sustainable.

What they did offer was a platform for loads of students to find and join my classes. And they did. There were lots of new faces in classes every week. And then more new faces the week after. Some would be the same faces, but generally, these apps encouraged an environment of ‘trying it all.’

The reason I’ve finally decided to say no to platform capitalism was because of Corona.

A hugely clarifying time for a lot of us, for me, it was the deal breaker. When Corona hit and studios went down, a certain app changed the rules, and the result was even worse than before.

But not only that – the students that have been coming back into my classes during restricted opening have been regulars of mine from a time before apps. From a studio that appreciated community and offered fair rates for teachers. This studio valued building friendships, and sharing a practice that can be challenging, and rewarding, and that is ultimately about finding connection.

These students, and they know who they are, are badass, anti-capitalist, yoga-rebels, and they are exactly the kind of people I want to attract.

I no longer care that the numbers have dropped, because the people in my classes are my friends, my tribe, and I love them. And I love teaching them new things every week, and watching their practice grow and develop.

If you’ve been in one of my classes via ‘the app,’ it has been so great getting to know you, and I’d love to have you back. I offer discounted 5- or 10-card offers, and that payment directly supports me to support you through your practice.

I’m grateful for the lessons learnt during these ‘special times,’ and mostly grateful for the community that continues to support me either IRL or through the YouTube channel.

Stay rebellious, question capitalism, do yoga.

Why I’m no longer working for ‘The Man’

Emails have been sent, and contracts are being terminated. Damn, it feels good. I have chosen to no longer work ...
Read More

Oops! I chose the wrong Yoga Teaching Training

Choosing a teacher training has to be one of the hardest things a potential yoga teacher needs to do. There ...
Read More

99 Problems, but Cash ain’t one

Money, money, money.Try to read that without singing ABBA. Earning money can be challenging. Keeping it in your bank account ...
Read More

Why I don’t have Instagram (but I do now!)

I started writing a totally different blog this morning. One about why I don’t have Instagram because it’s all so ...
Read More

A Human Experience

There are many shit things that happen all the time. There are many good things that happen all the time ...
Read More

Later, 2010’s

I’ve just finished teaching two classes (with a broken – or fractured – toe. I’m not sure yet) and I’m ...
Read More

Bikram Yoga is Not Hot

The other day I participated in my first Bikram yoga class. I’ve never liked Bikram as a concept, but it ...
Read More

The Yoga of Learning a Language

As someone who comes from a predominantly English-speaking country, I suppose I’m lucky. I can basically travel anywhere in the ...
Read More

Holding Space

Yoga can be a spiritual practice, for others, an exercise routine, and for some, just time away from their regular ...
Read More

Losing Weight

Today I did something that past-me never would have done... I uploaded a video to YouTube, where my belly makes ...
Read More

Oops! I chose the wrong Yoga Teaching Training

Choosing a teacher training has to be one of the hardest things a potential yoga teacher needs to do.

There are thousands of options. And so many locations. And varying costs, and lead teachers, and styles, and religious bases! Aaahhh! I’m getting overwhelmed all over again!

So, what happens when you’ve picked one, and it’s not right for you?

Firstly, we could get all yogic and say that there are no wrong decisions, only obstacles to overcome that teach us lessons.

Or I could let you know why it sucks and what you can do to fix it.

I picked the wrong training. Totally.

It was very basic level asana, with the worst anatomy teacher known to yoga. I don’t think she had ever done yoga.

Our philosophy teacher was great, and the other teacher who did some of the asana training was also good, but nothing quite hit the nail on the head.

I did not feel prepared to teach safely or complete adjustments. I did not feel at all confident to put together a sequence that made any sense or followed a theme. I didn’t fully understand the anatomy of a pose, or which muscle groups were being used. I didn’t learn or try out a single new asana. I barely did any of the ones I already knew. I felt robbed.

All my learning came after the training was over.

I learnt that I knew more about yoga than I thought I did. I learnt that the instructor was in me the whole time, I just hadn’t given her a voice. I learnt that I had let my lack of confidence in myself make decisions for me. And that I am not satisfied when I am not challenged. But that I’m scared to challenge myself for fear of not being the best. Catch 22.

I gained confidence. Because I had proven to myself that I actually knew my shit, and my peers in the class were super supportive of me. I’m sure one of them told me my lesson was the best one. (Just going to throw that in there ;-)).

But this isn’t helpful yet. So, here’s some things to think about before choosing a yoga teacher training:

  • Research the teacher. Take lessons with them, email them, learn about them and their style.
  • Find out what students have thought of their previous trainings. I wish I had done more research on this, because although I personally stalked and PM’d a few students, I later found a reviews page that outlined everything I didn’t like about the course. How I wish I’d read that beforehand!
  • Don’t have your heart set on a particular location. This will cloud your opinion.
  • Find out what is included in the price. Maybe it’s cheaper than most, but is accommodation and food covered? I also found this out the hard way.
  • Challenge yourself. I chose a training that didn’t require any prerequisites. For one of the students, it was her first class. Good for her and I loved her, but the training that was right for her was not the same one that was right for me.
  • Know that this is the first of many. Truly, this is the one piece of advice I had to keep telling myself so that I didn’t drown in the guilt of selecting the wrong course. Also, it takes the pressure off. I know there is another training in my future, maybe more than one. I certainly hope so. And it is this knowledge that leaves me lots more room to grow.

Unfortunately, in conclusion, I am going to get all yogic and say that there are no wrong decisions, only obstacles to overcome that teach us lessons. Because in the end, it did teach me a lesson. A few lessons in fact. So maybe it wasn’t the wrong training after all.

(It was).

99 Problems, but Cash ain’t one

Money, money, money.
Try to read that without singing ABBA.

Earning money can be challenging. Keeping it in your bank account can be even more challenging. Somehow, I’ve managed to do both across a variety of jobs ranging from barista to visual merchandiser, and oh so many more.

I thought maybe a pandemic was as good a time as any to share some of my tips with you. And they can apply to you, no matter what you earn, because as I said, I’ve been a student and an office worker, and have managed to get to as many countries, concerts, and classes as I like.

As much as I don’t encourage you to take your financial advice from your friendly, neighbourhood yoga teacher, I have managed to live a financially stress-free life. I have plenty of other stresses, but that’s where the yoga comes in, right?

Here are my top three tips for retaining the money you make, regardless of how much that is.

Tip Number One:

This is the biggest one. Don’t live beyond your means.

I’m going to use housing as an example, but this method could also apply if you’re trying to save for a vacation, or schooling, or whatever.

When you’re choosing a place to rent or buy, first figure out what your essential expenses are. Things like bills, petrol, groceries, etc. You don’t have to make a fancy spreadsheet or anything, just grab a pen and some scrap paper, and quickly jot down how much you roughly spend each week on your essentials. Round up. And because I’m not good at maths, I’m going to use big round numbers for the following example. Let’s say your essential (key word) expenses come to $300 per week.

Then figure out your weekly income, (again, for the sake of easy maths, let’s say $1000), and subtract your expenses from your income. You’ve got $700 left. Do you want to be spending $700 a week on rent or a mortgage? Probably not, because you have a life and want to do other non-essential things like drink wine and go to yoga classes and travel (when we can do all those things again).

That might mean that you don’t live in the nicest, newest house, with shiny silver appliances, but as long as you have a place to sleep and cook, and water that heats up, what are the other things you need in your home?

Which leads me to my next tip.

Tip Number Two:

Does it have to be brand new?

I have bought three brand new household items in my whole life. They are; big TV (because I love TV), a sofa on sale at 50% off, and a mattress. That’s it.

Does my living room look like a Salvation Army thrift shop? No. Because people throw away good shit all the time! Or they sell it super cheap.

You can get appliances that have nothing wrong with them, other than they’ve been scratched on the truck on the way to the store, that are a fraction of their perfect brother and sister’s price.

Second-hand furniture has personality, and generally is of a far higher quality than certain Swedish warehouse furniture (which is also so cheap/free if you can pick it up second hand).

Plus guys, on top of all this, buying second hand is much better for the environment as well as your wallet. Yay for Karma points.

And Tip Number Three:

Don’t ever finance a car. Ever.

Paying interest on an item that always drops in value is just a bad idea.

If cars are your thing, then ignore me and get your dream car.

But if you just need something to move you from one place to another, find a well-maintained, 4-5 year old vehicle that you know is reliable and can be repaired cheap. Japanese cars, for example, are good on fuel and have cheap parts. Save up, and buy it outright. If you must get a loan on a vehicle, pay it off as soon as is humanly possible.

Bonus Tip:

If you’re nailing tips one through three, then amazing, go you! Here’s another one that is much harder to maintain, because money in the bank is like an apple on a magical tree in a mystery land of two naked people.

Have an emergency fund.

It should be at least one month’s expenses, to begin with, and eventually build up to around 3-6 month’s expenses.

An emergency fund is much better off in an account that you don’t use on the daily. Something that requires a passcode and a text message from your bank is usually annoying enough to keep you away from it.



If this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s surely pointed out the things in our lives that we really use and need. Maybe there’s some stuff that, even during the most boring days of our lives, you still didn’t use.

Keep yourself financially stress-free by recognising when you’re going over the limit and seeing the value in what counts. For all other stresses, go to yoga.

Why I don’t have Instagram (but I do now!)

hanna_yoga-79

I started writing a totally different blog this morning. One about why I don’t have Instagram because it’s all so fake and that shit is toxic and blah, blah, blah.
Negative, blame-shifting, self-entitled crap.

But I think I need to share the real reason.

 

I don’t have Instagram because I used to have an eating disorder.

 

I have avoided Instagram for this long, because there is something inside of me that knows I can’t handle it. Even though my intelligent mind tells me it’s fake, and filtered, and not really real, the mind that was obsessed with being perfect – she feeds off of that shit.

She stares at all those pretty pictures and wants it all.

The body, the adoration, the perfect Eka Pada Rajakapotasana. She wants everything her counter-part knows she doesn’t need.

 

And even though she hasn’t been around for a very long time, I can feel her sniffing about.
I feel her every time my YouTube channel subscriber numbers don’t go up. When that post I thought was really funny didn’t get much of a reaction. When my yoga teacher friends tell me they had loads of students in their class that day.

 

She’s a real bitch. I hate her and she hates me.

 

She hates that I do yoga every day to keep her out. She hates that when I meditate or walk through the park, I never even think about her.

She hates it every time I post a new video to the channel where my top falls and you can see my gut. She mostly hates that I don’t care.

I don’t care about her any more.

 

She can tell me that this person is a better yogi than me, has more followers and an even skin tone. She can throw negative bullshit in my face, because I’ve learnt how to block it, I know it doesn’t serve.

I own her ass. And she can’t do anything to me that I don’t allow.

 

So, we’re going on Instagram. And I’m going to post about yoga, and my dogs, and life and learning.

 

She might show up.

She will show up.

 

But you can be damn sure that I’m gonna cut that bitch down!

 

Wanna see what I’m up to?
@_realyoga

 

A Human Experience

There are many shit things that happen all the time.

There are many good things that happen all the time.

It’s called balance, right?

 

But in all seriousness, doesn’t it feel like we only hear about yucky stuff always?!

 

So, I’m here to share with you a great human experience I had (on the train, of all places!) just the other day.

 

I hardly ever take public transport, but recently I’ve been subbing for a class that’s way out east, and my bike-riding legs just ain’t that capable. So, train it is.

 

After a long ride out, and a great class, I was on my way home, reading my book. I choose to be one of those people who looks deeply like they are doing something in order to definitely NOT have a human interaction.

 

As I sat there, reading my book, just one guy opposite me, we stopped at a station where another man sat down next to me. The kind of guy who would definitely be pulled aside for a ‘random security check’ at the airport (unjustifiably, of course, but that’s part of the shit things that happen). He started to speak to the man across from me, who had headphones in, because, like me, who the hell wants to talk to random strangers on the train?!

I just assumed they knew each other, but something about the interaction felt like maybe they did not. The headphones guy got off at the next stop, and then said random friendly stranger started talking to me.

 

He said that my book looked interesting and what was it about?

I am reading Yoga Beyond Belief, one of the recommended readings for my upcoming YTT. I told him it was about yoga’s place in the Western world. I’m only a couple of chapters in, and I had just read about how you never reach an end goal in yoga – that there’s always something more to learn. There are no ‘expert’ yogis.

 

He told me he was a Sikh, and they have a similar story. In the Sikh religion, there are these hymns, or pieces of music called Ragas. And there is this great singer/musician who knows many songs, and he was asked if he knew the Ragas. He took out his sword and placed it in the lake. He pulled out the sword and watched all the water drain back into the lake until there was only one drop left, and he said, this is how much I know.

 

I apologise if someone reads that and it’s totally wrong, but that’s how it was told to me, and that’s what I can remember. I loved how it was so similar to yoga. You can know so much about a pose, for example, and then one day you’ll do that same pose that you’ve done over and over, and it will feel completely different. You can never really ‘know’ yoga, and I guess you can never really know the Ragas, either.

 

My Sikh friend had to get off at the next stop, and replacing him across my seat was a mother and daughter.

 

The little girl had been a bit grizzly on the train, I had heard her before, but she seemed better now.

 

I was sitting with one of my legs crossed under the other, and she went to sit the same way. I could see she was copying me. But then her mother grabbed her leg and put her foot on top of the other, so I did the same. “Better,” I said. And she smiled.

 

Then I grabbed my top foot and brought it up to my head. And so did she.

And I stretched my leg into the air, and she did too.

We were playing yoga.

 

The people that know me know that I’m not so fond of kids, but I guess something about a random stranger starting a conversation with me in a non-conversational atmosphere, made me feel like interacting with humanity.

 

We played this yogi-Simon-says until her mom just about missed their stop.

 

I came home and told Alex I had just had the most wonderful human experience on the train. The train!

 

So, when shit happens, and it does, remember that good stuff happens too.

It doesn’t take much to connect us, because essentially, we are.

Later, 2010’s

I’ve just finished teaching two classes (with a broken – or fractured – toe. I’m not sure yet) and I’m having a shower and washing away 2019.

Scrubbing, exfoliating, pumice-stoning, deep-rinsing the year away, and applying 2020’s moisturiser ALL over my body. Night cream, night serum, eye cream, (Oh, I am so 32!), putting on fluffy socks (over my bandaged toe 🙁 ) and making a cheese board.

It’s not that 2019 has been a bad year, but for some reason it feels really good to clean it away. Start 2020 fresh.

And with those big, round, even, very-much-satisfying-my-OCD numbers, comes the realisation that we’re entering a new decade.

I have been alive for three and a bit so far, and it’s not beyond me that this new decade will see me into my forties :-O

New Years is an interesting time. We’re staying in this year because New Year’s in Berlin is like a war zone (don’t believe me? Google that shit) and my baby Baloo is very scared. Felix is chilling and getting leftover cheese.

Some people find celebrating a New Year very overrated, and some don’t.

I think you like NYE if you have plans, and then you pretend that it doesn’t matter when you’re at home watching Netflix and washing your hair and eating cheese, and… wait.

This year, the beginning of 2020 is exciting to me. I am genuinely looking forward to all the amazing and maybe not so amazing things this next decade has in store. I have a LOT of things I want to achieve and I’m becoming more aware of the importance of doing them NOW.

One of my favourite Chinese Proverbs, is;

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”

And Oh God am I feeling that!

I made a list of all the things I achieved over the past decade. Imma share them with you now. They started off in order and then very quickly went out of order and all over the place.

They are both good and bad things. Just the things that happened that I remembered. In absolutely no order and completely unedited…

– Finished Colour Cosmetica
– Went to Cambodia
– Bought a house
– Got Felix
– Made new friends with Ryan and Nat
– Got Married/Got Engaged
– Went to America
– Went to Disneyland and Disney World
– Took up yoga for real
– VM (Visual Merchandiser) at Forever New and Cotton On
– Loads of gigs
– Got Baloo
– Sarah had Lij
– Stopped talking to Dad
– Saw loads of friends get married
– Got my tattoo sleeve
– Entered Miss Ink
– Made redundant as VM
– Worked at St Peter’s and loved it
– Became a yoga teacher
– Moved to Berlin
– Worked full time as a yoga teacher
– Had another nephew, Henny
– Travelled lots and lots
– Turned 30
– Did a headstand
– Met my yoga hero, Jess Rose
– Spain, Cruise (New Caledonia), Luxembourg
– Germany, Prague, Italy, Portugal
– Croatia, Slovenia
– Met my other yoga idol, Adriene Mischler
– Started my own Youtube channel
– Belgium, Amsterdam
– Saw snow
– Game of Thrones
– Bali, France
– Met new people, made new friends
– Stronger, better relationship with Alex
– Mended relationship with Dad
– Found out Dad is very sick
– Pop died
– Nanna died
– Saw Ricky Gervais
– Did the splits
– Rock climbed
– Rode a bike everywhere
– Most orgasms

There are lots more things, both good, bad and somewhere indifferently in between, but my hand was hurting and ending on an orgasm seemed appropriate.

There are so many things I wish I had started 10 years ago, instead, I’m going to start them now.

Happy New Year.
Happy New Decade.

Bikram Yoga is Not Hot

The other day I participated in my first Bikram yoga class.

 

I’ve never liked Bikram as a concept, but it did sort of put yoga on the map, at least that was my experience in Australia.

 

So, what is Bikram and how is it different? It’s a series of postures, they are the same 26 every class, that you do in 40-degree heat, sweat your ass off, feel like you might pass out, and then leave thinking you’ve had a really great workout.

 

Instinctively, I knew it was bad. But now I know it’s bad.

 

I was nervous about doing this class, but as the only 10am time slot in my suburban area, I thought; ‘maybe it’s time.’

 

On entry, the teacher is nice, the drop-in price is too high, and it’s not scary yet.

 

Then I enter the room.

 

Whoosh! The heat hits you like a sauna. But unlike a sauna, I’m not planning on sitting around with my eyes closed and grabbing a cocktail afterwards. I have to move in this heat!

 

The room is massive and looks more like a gym than a yoga shala. There’s a mirrored wall, which I really hate in yoga studios anyway, but in Bikram, they use the mirror a lot. The teacher has a stage and a microphone, and the room has a decent number of students for a 10am weekday class.

 

We start with a pranayama technique requiring the head and neck to go “back, back, back!” and already it starts to hurt. I remind myself that I know what I’m doing and what my body is capable of, and not to push it.

 

We continue through the series of Bikram postures. The teacher doesn’t move with the class, she doesn’t really have to, but she also offers no adjustments and certainly no alternative options for poses.

 

Even when that pose is a standing forward fold, where she has asked us to grab our heels and “lock out the knees, lock out the knees, lock out the knees!”

 

Huh?!

 

‘Round your spine, push your knees back, keep your eyes open.’

 

All the cues you would never hear in a yoga class. Not a safe one.

 

Not a class where someone who doesn’t have a lot of practice time under their belt, and therefore not so flexible or strong, could find the right option for them.

 

Plus the heat. Oh my goodness, it’s stifling.

 

One girl has left, I don’t blame her. Sure, it can get hot in India and Bali and all these other places we do yoga, but with no fresh air, there’s no relief.

 

The series of postures continue, each being completed twice, because that’s a thing too. When we finally make it to the floor, each break between poses requires you to get into savasana, head facing the opposite way, have a break, and then roll up “fast” into a forward fold, turn around, and do it again. Mostly this was just boring and frustrating.

 

The series finishes with Kapalabhati breathing, or breath of fire, because, you know, we aren’t hot enough. And then the strangest savasana ever.

 

We lie on the floor, the teacher says thanks and have a good day, and then exits stage left, leaving us there for as long as we want. Some get up immediately after, some take a little more time, but even this felt really odd, and not like we had completed the class collectively. One of the reasons I like going to group classes is to absorb the energy of the class, share the space and the practice together, but this was not like that. No savasana-yoga-bliss-bubble.

 

I get up and head straight for the shower. I am so completely drenched in sweat and mostly feel gross.

 

I guess I can see how students think they’ve had an amazing work out, but this isn’t sweat that you’ve built up from movement. Doing these moves in another class of normal temperature probably would’ve made me warm, but not sweaty. This sweat is just water, not workout sweat. I make sure I drink plenty of fluids for the rest of the day.

 

Even with the awareness I brought to that class, knowing what my body was capable of in normal temperatures, and trying not to fold myself up like a book even though I definitely could, my muscles being so warm, I was still sore the next day. My hamstrings! Damn that ego in forward folds!

 

Maybe by now some of you have also seen the Netflix documentary about Bikram, and who he was. A sleazy, guru-wannabe who would yell abuse at his students and they would soak it up. A sexual deviant. This blog isn’t about that, although I do recommend watching the documentary if you’re interested.

 

This blog is about my experience of Bikram yoga. After watching the doco, I’m annoyed that I gave money to the franchise that he benefits from. But I am glad to have experienced the class and am now able to form my own opinion of what it entails.

 

Like I said earlier, I didn’t agree with Bikram yoga as a concept, and now I can disagree with it as a practitioner.

 

It’s not for me.

 

And if you disagree with misogyny and sexual abuse, maybe it’s not for you either.

The Yoga of Learning a Language

As someone who comes from a predominantly English-speaking country, I suppose I’m lucky. I can basically travel anywhere in the world and someone there understands my language.

 

I remember being embarrassed as a child when I would go shopping with my grandmother, (or Baka, as we call her) who doesn’t speak much English. She was born in Croatia and immigrated to Australia sometime in her 30’s.

 

The age I am now.

 

I would get frustrated and sheepish when I saw other people treating her differently because she didn’t speak the language. Treating her like she was stupid.

 

I would sometimes agree with them.

 

Because I didn’t realise how hard it was. She had, by the time I was in the picture at least, been living in Australia for over 20 years. Come on, Baka!

 

But now I totally get it.

 

Learning a new language with absolutely no background in having to learn a language is hard.

 

So hard.

 

I feel stupid almost every day.

 

Taking lessons, and I do, drains every ounce of energy out of me. I can feel myself getting cranky and stubborn, and my face starts to squish up like I’ve smelt something bad, and I go home and sink into a deep, low place. It literally makes me feel depressed.

 

Yoga has always helped me cope with depression in the past, and it has absolutely been necessary for me to maintain a steady practice during my lessons, adding even more time in meditation. These tools I’ve given myself have helped me move from feeling dumb, to still feeling dumb, but knowing that it can only get better from here.

 

What my practice has taught me, is that if I stop, that’s as far as I’m going to get.

 

Whereas if I keep going, and keep messing up, and getting so many things wrong, but having some guidance on how to correct them, eventually, I’ll make some progress.

 

And maybe it won’t be epic strides of sentence-long progression, maybe I’ll just learn three new words a day, but they will be three words that I didn’t know yesterday.

 

If I give up, those are the only three words I’ll ever know.

 

There was once a time when standing on my head was completely never going to happen. Ever. I kept practicing. And then it did happen.

 

Not giving up meant I found progress and I hit my goal.

 

Doing the work, every day, even just for a bit, just three words. I have to put in the work and the rest will come.

 

Yeah, it’ll be hard. It’s going to suck and I’m going to keep feeling stupid.

 

But then one day maybe I’ll put a sentence together. It won’t be perfect but they will basically know what I mean. Progress. Headstand.

 

Just have to put in the work.

 

Practice, and all is coming.

 

Holding Space

Yoga can be a spiritual practice, for others, an exercise routine, and for some, just time away from their regular life events, where they can focus purely on themselves.

 

For each student, the teacher must hold the space. Creating an environment free from the distractions of the mind, where the concepts of yoga, as interpreted by the instructor, can be delivered in a non-judgemental, loving environment.

 

This is easy enough when all your students arrive in a great mood, ready to absorb whatever you have to offer.

 

But this isn’t always the case.

 

Students are humans, with human emotions, and there are many reasons why someone can show up to your class and shift the vibe. Bad day, bad mood, bad traffic.

 

I recently taught a class where the tense energy hit me immediately.

 

I teach yoga in English, in a country where English is not the native language. This, for the most part, has rarely been an issue. I’ve always admired how Europeans can switch between two, (or more) languages, like it ain’t no thang.

 

On this occasion though, I was subbing for a German-speaking teacher. This wasn’t regarded by the studio as such a big deal, since everyone else there teaches in English, and students are aware of this fact. I had one regular show up, she was fun and full of (way too much) energy for 7am. And then a couple arrives. I say hello and introduce myself, and that I’m subbing today. This is their first time at the studio. They ask the other student if this class is in German and she says, usually yes, but the regular teacher is away. Cue tension.

 

I don’t blame them. They’ve shown up to a yoga class in their country, one would expect it to be taught in their language. It was incredible how palpable the energy shift was.

 

Then from my end, these guys brought their own mats, so my initial thoughts are; they’re advanced yogis. The guy has a ponytail resembling David Life of Jivamukti yoga, and I’m immediately scared that not only have they got a teacher who speaks only English, but they are also in a class that isn’t advanced enough for their ponytail-wielding practice. Cue panic.

 

We roll out the mats and I say hi and welcome everyone (all three, it is 7am), and explain how this class works. It’s a ‘different’ kind of studio, so things don’t run quite like a normal yoga class. I’m nervous about their reaction to this too. I jump out of the class to close the gate, (something we do while the students have a chat and get to know each other’s practice), and I use this moment to collect my thoughts.

 

I feel nervous. I’m subbing for another teacher who’s style I don’t know. The regular has told me she usually goes to Thursday morning classes, which are harder, advanced classes, taught by one of the most incredible teachers. Plus, I’ve got these two newbies who speak little English and I’m convinced are advanced yogis (because of the ponytail).

 

I breathe.

 

I decide I’m going to teach the class I had planned. A grounding, balanced practice, perfect to start the day. I’m going to teach the way I do it. With playfulness, humour, and lots of alignment cues. Which maybe no one will understand. I walk back into the class.

 

The ponytail guy says it’s like a yoga and English class in one. I’m not sure if he’s happy or annoyed about this. I begin.

 

I start with simple pranayama to come into the space, and also because it’s 7am. (And also because I kinda needed it). I notice eyes open every time I give the next instruction, which I totally expected since words alone wouldn’t quite be enough this time.

And then we start to move, start to flow.

 

Ponytail isn’t advanced at all. Neither is the regular. I got it all wrong!

 

I slip my first joke in. Couple of laughs. Ok. *Nodding head in happily surprised way.

 

The vibe begins to change. The students smile as I ask them to come into a tricky balance, they take deep breaths when I cue them. I’m also enjoying this.

 

We come to the end where we sit in gratitude for our practice, and after Namasté, they sit peacefully, absorbing the effects of what preceded.

 

I apologised at the end, in German, for only speaking English, and they brushed it off like it wasn’t even an issue. Huh? This is a change.

 

After pouring some tea, the woman tells me that she really enjoyed the class and asks me when is my usual time? She even takes one of my business cards. Ponytail gives me the double thumbs up, and they both ask for a hug on the way out. I was beaming!

 

At the beginning of the class, I wasn’t feeling good about teaching to this group. I had made a judgement (which turned out to be wrong), and based on that judgement, I was scared.

 

The reason, I believe, that the energy of the class was completely different in the end, was because I acknowledged that I felt that way. I knew I didn’t feel comfortable, so I had to figure out a way that I would be able to hold the space for students that maybe entered their practice in a not-so-great state of mind either.

 

I taught the way I always do. Authentically me.

 

I didn’t try to change who I was and how I instructed to try to appeal to what I thought was the attitude of the group, but instead, I taught a yoga class. I did what I know how to do. I didn’t let the mood of my students (or myself) affect how I taught that day.

 

Through breath, and movement, and laughter, we shifted nervous energy into a warm, genuine connection. And it is only through controlling our own thoughts and taking ownership of our feelings, that we’re able to move that energy into something different. Like hugs.

Losing Weight

Today I did something that past-me never would have done…

 

I uploaded a video to YouTube, where my belly makes quite the appearance.

 

I don’t ever put much thought into my outfits, and I just bought these new, comfy, amazing pants that I wanted to wear, which I paired with one of my favourite crops.

 

This meant a bit of skin was on display. And then once I started moving around, a lot more skin.

 

This is something today-me did do… She didn’t care.

 

I’ve been thinking lately about my body. It’s had a rough ride. Haven’t they all? But the strange this is, I’m definitely the heaviest I’ve ever been (although I don’t get on the scales, I can just tell) yet I’m also the most comfortable I’ve ever been in my skin.

 

I love that meme, where it says; I wish I was as fat as the first time I thought I was fat. Ha! How I wasted my skinny days wanting to be thinner!

 

If I could swallow a magic pill and transform into Elle Macpherson circa 1999 (jeez, circa now probably!) I would. But no magic pill exists and instead I have the body I’m in.

 

A body that likes wine and chocolate and must have a biscuit with every cup of tea.

 

Maybe some folks back home will look at this video and say; “Hmm, Hanna’s put on a bit of weight.” Maybe I have.

 

But what about the weight that I’ve lost?

 

The weight of trying to be a certain size. To look a certain way.

 

The weight of worrying about how other people see me. Of what they think. I’ve lost this weight.

 

I’ve completely lost the weight of caring if my stomach is sticking out. Because that same stomach is strong. Underneath those rolls is a core that lets me stand on my head and hold plank for a really long time (if I wanted to). I work on my core so I have a strong back, and good posture, not because I care if my skin offends you.

 

Those hips that have a bit of extra meat on them are super flexible, and the shoulders that have thickened out are helping me practice handstands.

 

The butt is perkier. All those warrior poses have paid off.

 

Sometimes I wish my rolls wouldn’t go over my yoga pants, but to be honest, I don’t really care.

 

One day I’ll tell you about the version of me that never would’ve said this stuff, and never would have put that video on YouTube. That’s a hell of a story and imperative to why I came to yoga in the first place, but for now, the celebration.

 

Of not giving a fuck that I don’t have a 15-year-old body. I don’t want one! This body is strong, and flexible, and likes chocolate and wine a little too much. But it’s mine, and I love it for all the things it CAN do.

 

How much weight could you lose?