I'm not the first person to leave a well-paying job to follow a dream or a nobler path. In fact, this is not even the first time I have done as much. Back in 2009 I stopped working as a researcher to train dogs. I coupled the change in employment with a cross-country move. A series of unfortunate events left me unable to continue along the entrepreneurial path but in an epic re-do, my former employers caught wind of my hard times, sought me out across country and eventually rehired me.
I worked for the same law firm as a researcher from the time I graduated college until April of this year when I fully committed to the path of teaching yoga. What are some of the things I've learned while transitioning from a full-time researcher to a yogi/entrepreneur/part-time construction worker?
1. A steady paycheck can be a double-edged sword. How? Well, for starters, jobs come and go. Second, the "steadiness" of a paycheck is only a reflection of your own internal steadiness not the unchanging nature of the job or employer. You make the decision to show up to work consistently, to budget and spend appropriately and thus the paycheck feels steady. Third, complacency can arise from having more income than is needed to actually care for oneself. Complacency is in direct opposition to compassion. That does not mean that every person that makes more money than he or she needs is complacent and lacking compassion. Many people take all of their extra money and time and give it directly back to community. I am more aware of others needing compassion now that I am having to save every penny. I knew people needed compassion from a conceptual level before. I gave freely of my time and money when I had plenty but I did it as a knee-jerk sense of not wanting to be a part of consumer-culture, not out of compassion.
2. You can always level up your consistency and dedication. Does that mean I am becoming OCD? No. Does that mean that the definitions of consistency and dedication are being modified for me daily? Yes.
Let's take a step back and look at the big picture for just a second then dive into to examining consistency and dedication as I have recently applied them. As a yogi/entrepreneur in Lynchburg, Va I am not only building my own business but helping to establish an entire market. Thankfully James River Yoga and Bikram Yoga Lynchburg have been consistently offering yoga for several years. So, there is some groundwork and yoga is not a totally foreign concept in Lynchburg, Va but in a city of 60,000 people there could be 60,000 yogis versus the few hundred that currently attend the two established studios. That is a lot of room for growth.
The social media realm has been all but completely unrepresented by Lynchburg yogis and that is one way I have identified to help yoga grow in Lynchburg. That brings me back to consistency. I post a picture to Instagram almost every day and also to Facebook. Most of the pictures I post are of yoga happening all over the city. This helps to normalize yoga and tear down preconceived notions that yoga has to happen in a studio. I use #yogaeverydamnday on my pictures because I mean it. That is another way that I am consistent - I post yoga pics every day because I yoga every day. When push comes to shove if you want to see the benefits of a yoga practice it needs to happen...every...day #consistency.
Another transition to greater consistency has been in how I treat my body - by going to bed consistently early and waking up consistently early. My morning class at Toolry is at 6am which means I have to go to bed around 9pm to wake up at 5am. To give my best to my students I need a full night of sleep, consistently. As a work-from-home researcher I used to get up earlyish (when I wanted to). The structure of my classes has forced my hand into greater consistency which could be something that I resent but instead is something that I have decided to embrace - which brings me to dedication...
Dedication means that I am in this for the long haul whether one person or ten people show up to my class. It means that I hold classes rain or shine, so on so forth. But of course, there's more to it. Dedication comes from the latin dedicare: to devote or consecrate and that is the emphasis I want to translate from me to you. I am sharing yoga with this community and to me that is a relationship of significant import. Each day is dedicated to you, my students. Consistency is the tool by which I purify my own existence so that I can offer myself to you in a way that reflects the mindfulness and spirituality of yoga. Your body will develop, your mind will follow suit in a way that is unique to you and likewise your spirituality. I come to class with the intention to help guide you along your own path whether you work in an office, work with your hands, whether you're Christian, Hindu, Atheist, etc. I lead a clean life - plenty of sleep, natural food, I don't drink, I don't smoke. These are choices that I make that directly impact my ability to NOT influence you in any other way than to give you the asanas (poses) and let you do with them as you will.
3. A part-time job is supplemental as more than just a paycheck...otherwise its not worth it. I could not imagine trying to be a yoga teacher in Lynchburg and working a retail job or a service industry job or a desk job. Its not because there is anything wrong with any of those types of jobs. If I had to do any of them full-time or completely apart from teaching yoga I could happily accept any of the aforementioned positions. But the fact as it stands is that I am a yoga teacher and anything the detracts from that is a deal-breaker. I had a moment of feeling a little flustered when I realized I could not envision myself as a waitress or part-time researcher. That moment just so happened to occur while I was happily painting my yoga studio and meditating on my life's choices. In that same moment I realized the answer was literally at hand - I love to work with my body and doing so only supplements my yoga practice.
I've worked on my own houses since I was old enough to hold a hammer but I have never before been employed in construction. By some random stroke of good luck one of my friend's dad's hired me and I've been happily employed working on one of downtown Lynchburg's historic properties every since.
You can take what you want from the rest of this post but if you get nothing else out of it let me underscore the importance of functional movement off the yoga mat, out of the gym and into your everyday movements. As the famous Japanese swordmaster Miyamoto Mushashi once said, "make your combat stance your everyday stance." How many yoga positions can you spot in this video?