I’m back. For realsies. Promise. 

I realised a few days ago that I have taken yet another massive hiatus from this blog. Oy vey. 
I’m not going to apologise, though, because the lack of writing was mainly due to the fact that I started a new job at a wedding website where I write A LOT about random shit about weddings… which I’m good at because I know way too much random shit about weddings anyway so it’s great to have a place to word-vom all of it.

But this new job has also been a catalyst for me making a couple of resolutions to myself (even though we’re half way through the year now but shhhh). The first is that, because I have to write so much for work now, I will write more for myself. Which isn’t something I’ve really done in a long time – especially fiction writing – so rebooting this blog is part of that initiative.
The second is that I need to get my shit together and finally do the Whole30, which I have been umming and aahing over for a couple of months. Now that my Uveitis is back and I’ve returned to pummelling my body with drugs (and not the fun kind), I have to start taking better care of myself. The Whole30 was first brought to my attention by my friend Bobbi as a way to help some awful stomach cramps I’d been having which I couldn’t understand the cause of. I went ahead and bought the book and did a load of research… and then didn’t start it. I realised this was stupid of me, so 7 days ago I cut the crap and went full speed ahead.

I’ll talk more about Whole30 in the coming days and weeks, keeping you updated on my progress, how much I’m craving Phish Food ice cream, and what my fave Whole30 compliant recipes are. And if you don’t give a shit, well, don’t read my blog until July I guess. (Only do because I love you!) I am going to need all the moral support and cheerleading I can get because tbh I just really love pasta and sugar and I’m dreading going to the cinema this weekend to see Wonder Woman and not being allowed my precious pick ‘n’ mix. Pray for me. 

Anyway, back to the topic of the new job. If you were wondering whether this means I’ve stopped teaching yoga, the answer is FUCK NO. I still teach at Bikram Yoga Bristol and I still love every moment of what I do. I just basically needed some more money. Because, y’know, food… and bills… 
Actually, though, I’ve discovered that teaching less has made me enjoy it more. Now that my opportunities to teach are rarer, I take more advantage of them, and I feel I can give more to my students. 

Not that I don’t miss teaching more; I totally do. But at least I know that, for the moment, whenever I walk into the hot room to lead a class, I am going in with complete presence of mind and excitement to see how my students have progressed, as opposed to slumping in thinking, “Oh not this shit again.” 
And believe me, if you’re a Bikram teacher, you have definitely thought that more often than not. If you haven’t, you’re lying to yourself. 
I must admit that this job has sent me down a bit of a rabbit hole, though, where I cannot figure out for the actual life of me what I actually want to do. Like, with my life. Do I want to have my own studio? Do I want to try to be a writer? Do I want to drop everything and go to law school so I can do my best to be an advocate and catalyst for change in this seriously messed up world? (Yes, this is something I am seriously considering.)
I’m at a serious crossroads here. And no, sadly I’m not referring to the Britney Spears film which was a masterpiece of our times. I mean I feel very confused and really quite lost. 

But hey, I got no time for feeling down about that right now because I have 23 days left of not being allowed pizza, which is definitely taking priority as a bigger problem in my head at this moment. 
God I just want some damn cheese.

  • Just before I started my new job, I ended up getting corralled onto a Mindfulness retreat in Essaouira, Morocco with Jackie of Sky Garden Retreat. Essaouira is now my fave place and Jackie and I are soulmates. I also made friends with a lovely man there who makes shoes (because of course I did). You need this retreat. Learn more here.
  • Thanks to the aforementioned Bobbi, I’m now part of a book club in Brizzle where we read cool books and then talk about them whilst eating lots of food. Our most recent book was My Name is Leon by Kit De Waal. Not my favourite, but still a striking read.
  • I am the MOST pumped to be taking part in Inferno Hot Pilates’ first ever UK teacher training in Warwick next month! I’ll be teaching IHP around Bath and Bristol post-training, so I’m very excited to share the class with you and to share my teaching experiences here.
  • I am still traumatised over Valentina getting kicked off RuPaul’s Drag Race 2 weeks ago, but this interview with Bob the Drag Queen made me feel slightly better about it. I am also SO glad Alexis and Nina have gone the fuck home. It was about damn time. Still can’t decide whether I’m on Team Sasha or Team Shea, though. Bear with.
  • Re: RPDR. This:  

You can’t please all of the people all of the time

So I hit a teaching milestone last week. I had my first complaint filed against me by a student.

Well, maybe that’s the wrong phrasing. It wasn’t filed against me, as such. The student in question wrote a very long, detailed email to the general studio email address that was addressed directly to me. And it didn’t exactly say complimentary things. He evidently has issues with almost every aspect of my class and my teaching style, and felt that I needed to know he was unhappy with me. And not only that, but that some aspects of my teaching are, to him, just plain wrong.

To clarify, the student has been coming to the studio where I teach for a very long time and has, himself, been to Bikram Teacher Training (although he has never taught), and he feels he knows a great deal about the practice. Evidently, he also felt he needed to take it upon himself to right my teaching wrongs, by essentially writing me an essay on everything I’m doing incorrectly.

Now don’t get me wrong. I do not consider myself a perfect teacher, by any means. I am far from it. I still stumble over the occasional line, I make lots of awkward jokes, and I’m still not totally comfortable in my skin whilst standing on that podium. And I am always looking for constructive criticism from my fellow teachers. I have learnt that teaching is as much of a lifetime practice as a yoga practice. Every class I teach teaches me something new, and I don’t think I will ever stop learning. So had this student’s email been a few points on how to make my classes better (or had he spoken to me directly instead of emailing the studio), I might have been a little less thrown off.

But that’s not what the email was. What it was was a direct assault on everything I do and everything I say whilst teaching. From my occasional jokes, to the fact that I like to offer a few personal stories of how the practice helped me… He wasn’t down with any of it.

And at first, I was insulted. Then I was angry. I ended up sobbing at home later that night, fuming to my other half. “How DARE this pompous ass who’s never even had the balls to teach try to tell me how to do my job?!” It felt like my worst teaching nightmare had actually come true. Because when you get up on the podium to teach, you’re totally putting yourself out there for your students to see, warts and all. There’s no act to hide behind. It’s just you, in a sports bra and leggings, trying to help a room full of people achieve their best in their practice whilst simultaneously wearing your heart on your sleeve. And I already second-guess every damn move I make and word I say when I’m teaching, so having someone confirm those criticisms completely tipped me over the edge.

I wish I were about to tell you that I had a sudden yogic epiphany at that point that made me see the light about the situation and calm down, but I totally didn’t. I’m still kind of mad. I guess I have a ways to go to reach my enlightenment. Hey, I never said I was perfect.

BUT what I have realised (and the reason I’m writing this blog post) is that his whole email is actually not my damn problem.

So, my teaching isn’t perfect. I know it isn’t. I’m still a baby in the teaching world, it shouldn’t be! But I do know that I have students who really like my classes and who turn up to the studio especially to be taught by me. I have students who laugh at my stupid jokes and thank me for class on their way out of the studio. I also have a lot of students who are totally ambivalent to me, and that’s great too! As long as they’re turning up to practice for themselves and for the love of yoga, I am more than happy to teach them. I’m not there for them to love me, or even like me, I’m there to facilitate their practice and help them improve. And as for my teaching? I’m fine with the way it is right now, but I always look to get better, which is something I will do with time and experience.

I was also reminded by the freesia tattoo on my arm (long story) of something my favourite teacher once said to me when I was an emo 13 year-old getting bullied at school. “If you ever change yourself to please somebody else, I will be severely disappointed in you.” I am not about to change my teaching style to suit this student. Plenty of people like it, and if he doesn’t, then that’s too bad. You can’t please all of the people all of the time. The fact that he feels the need to assert superiority over me and try to make me feel belittled or lesser-than is about his own insecurities and issues. It has nothing to do with me. So I’ll keep teaching my classes the way I have since I left training; by being myself, and learning from my mistakes.