Don’t forget the little joys

Hello from Torino, Italy!

I took some time off blogging as we transitioned from Asia to Europe to soak in the new lifestyle and surroundings and to gather info/make decisions about what comes after this round-the-world trip. Decisions, decisions…

Anyway, I read this thoughtful piece about taking time each day to appreciate what’s around you, specifically the pieces of nature, big or small. I found it relevant and grounding as both M and I are looking to the future, beyond this amazing trip that we’ve taken. As we think about what and where our next step will be, we’ve both found stillness in meditation and walks through Italian streets.

The pace of life here in Europe is one we both appreciate; work to live, don’t live to work. Even though our next year may take us back to the US, this year has given us invaluable insight into being present, appreciating what we have, and enjoying what’s in front of us.

As Herman Hesse writes,

All things have their vivid aspects, even the uninteresting or ugly; one must only want to see.

Image Credit: Sydney Smith


SoyeeYoga is now live!

Hey guys, my website Soyee Yoga is now live! There I have more about my journey as a yogi, photos and a map of where I am in my round-the-world trip, and where I’ll be next! There are also lots of great ways to connect with me, virtually and in person. I’m excited to share my travels and wanderings with you all in one site. I’ll continue to blog about my experiences right here too 🙂 Cheers!

Living yoga: making money as a yoga teacher

So…lately I’ve been thinking about the financial viability of being a yoga teacher. The question that’s looming in my mind is, “can I make it as a yoga teacher?” During my year in teacher training, I focused on deepening my understanding of yoga and learning how to teach it — mindfully sharing my knowledge with others. This is what I’m deeply passionate about. I’ve also been lucky enough to have another job that allows me to study and teach yoga with minimal distractions and financial stress.

But now that I’ve received my certification and have begun getting paid for teaching, my next thought is “how do I shift a bigger part of my source of income to yoga?” My goal is to exclusively teach yoga. However, I’ve spoken to my yoga teaching friends and read up on salary statistics and yoga teachers’ anecdotes online, and most of them shout, “for your sanity and survival, don’t quit your day job!” Yikes.

So how do typical, non-celebrity yoga teachers make it work? A few ways: 1) they offer overlapping services such as massage therapy, Reiki healing, nutritional/lifestyle guidance, or physical therapy, 2) they offer workshops, retreats, or teacher trainings, or 3) they have supplementary income from another source. Often it’s a combination of these.

With the pragmatics of teaching yoga in mind, I check back with myself again. How do I define “making it”? What is my intention behind teaching yoga exclusively? What am I afraid of?

***meditation break***

Ahh, some clarity! My picture of success, after setting aside my ego, is to share the joy of my yoga practice with others, and to help others see themselves and live their dharma,  or purpose. My fears are not making enough money to live off of, and at the same time letting money and egotistic measures of success cloud my intention, my message and my teachings. Fear of uncertainty of the future.

So…what’s the answer? The answer is…I don’t know what will happen. But what I can do is set up ways to share yoga in the world we live in: through classes, workshops, word of mouth, online presence, and to track how much I earn doing what I love. Since I’ll be traveling around the world beginning this fall, I’ll have a unique opportunity to connect with people from many places and with many perspectives. If anything, this will help me become a better yoga teacher. Who knows where I’ll be in 5 years? For now, I will be here, practicing yoga.

Image credit: Hanson Mao

Be now.

Remember that man lives only in the present, in this fleeting instant: all the rest of his life is either past and gone, or not yet revealed. This mortal life is a little thing, lived in a little corner of the earth;

–Marcus Aurelius

I was reminded last night of a memory I had in my childhood:  kids teasing me in the lunchroom because my food was different than theirs. I remember how I felt: ostracized, alone, ashamed. And I felt those things again.

When I look back in time, or forward in time, it’s usually for these reasons: back because I see connection between now and then, and forward because I’m anticipating, planning, attempting to control what will come. What good does this do?

Well, to tell myself never to think forward or backward would be unrealistic. Also, some reminiscing and planning is a good thing: to appreciate how I’ve grown and changed since I was a kid, to appreciate good memories I’ve had, and to look forward to and take action towards things coming up. So how much is enough?

I answer this question with another question: does this thought serve me? If it doesn’t serve to help me live my life, my dharma (purpose), then set it aside. How?

Meditation! When I sit quietly with my thoughts, I become familiar with the feeling of actually experiencing them, instead of pushing them aside as they bubble up during work, during asana, or when I’m scrolling through Facebook or reading the news. Then I can decide whether they’re helping my day, my week, my goals or not.

In the 8-limb path (astanga) of yoga, meditation (dhyana) is the seventh limb. That’s because it’s not easy! To prepare for meditation  limbs 1-6 suggest observing and acting from a conscious and conscientious perspective (yamas, niyamas), practicing yoga poses, bringing awareness to your breath, and turning your attention and focus inward.

Beyond the eight limbs, I believe that yoga is about beginning again. So when I’m thinking about things once again that don’t serve me or those around me, I can think of it as a chance to act from my True Self. “Thanks, but I’m good. That was then, this is now.” Or “Hey, who knows what will happen? I’m going to enjoy this smoothie and sunny day because they’re right here in front of me.” And then I do.