I’ve gone invisible. I haven’t been blogging for a number of reasons, but the biggest one is that there’s a health issue that’s been going on for sometime that’s started to make me feel like my body’s out of control. As a yoga teacher to have my body feel like it’s out of control is extra scary – isn’t part of my job to be healthy? So what happens to me if my body breaks down? Can I teach? Do I have a job?
The way I teach right now, the answer is pretty much no, I don't have a job. I teach to people as a contractor, so if I don't show up, I don't get paid. I don't make money for workshops I design and have others lead, I only earn money if I'm on site. That has always felt honest to me, but with the health stuff coming up, it feels pretty risky. If I have to take a week off, there's no money coming in, and no promise that I'll get my classes back or my workshop spots back or anything like that. That's one of the aspects of being self-employed in the service industry that's unripe and makes me understand while people do form unions and create safety nets, but it's also one of the things I have appreciated about it from an entrepreneurial point of view.
Being a full time yoga teacher, able to teach classes regularly, take the time to design course materials for workshops and trainings, and be available for student's correspondence, means I don't have another job. Lots of yoga teachers work full-time at jobs and then teach yoga on the side and I would recommend that's how people for sure start out because earning enough as a teacher to not only be paid for your time but enough that you can save to have benefits or savings or take a vacation, is unusual. Lots of us live simply so we are willing to earn what seems like a lot of money per class at times, but when weighed out over time, isn't very much at all. We don't teach yoga for the money, let's put it that way. Or what seems like a great income when you and your family are healthy may not be there when you get sick or need to take extra time away with your family.
So hopefully we yoga teachers will stay healthy long enough to share yoga with people who want to learn. And over the past year I took on a project to earn money for myself and other yoga teachers as an alternate source of income and another way to provide teachings of yoga (that's the company, Capital Yoga Publishing). It's still a baby and won't pay for my vacation anytime soon, but it's a start.
The invisible place is being a woman in my 40s who's now for sure out of my youth. My periods have gotten heavier and way longer. As a result, I have low iron and I'm afraid to check again because I must be anemic by now. I've seen my doctor, I've tried hormone replacement, and I'm waiting now to see a specialist. My energy is zapped, I'm numb in parts and even though I practice yoga like I used to, I feel nervous and not sure if I'll have the energy to do everything I've got planned for my day. When I'm on the spot, leading a class for 90 minutes, sometimes I'm not sure I'm going to make it through the whole class without having to run out to the washroom to deal with the menstrual flow. Sometimes I've had to leave the class and run out and come back. Yoga is also taught these days in tight pants. They're comfortable but often revealing, so to wear enough support means having it show through the clothes, which can feel awkward. The whole thing feels awkward. I'm in a place at the moment where I would welcome menopause. My period keeps me up at night many nights and I've been having it for well over a month.
This doesn't happen to most women in their 40s. It won't happen to many people but apparently it runs in my family and I'm not sure how to handle it. It's scary on a physical level and if I had the kind of job where I could just excuse myself briefly and that was normal, maybe work life would be okay. But as it is, I'm on, eyes are on me, and it's tricky.
One of the courses I teach that's been actually something that has made teaching through this change in my body is the teacher training. The groups can be working together and if I have to go to the washroom every half an hour it's not a big deal. Sadly, I won't be teaching the training in the summer as I had expected. The centre where I teach is also feeling scared and wants to broaden their safety net of teachers. So they've decided to have someone else lead the summer program and I'll be back on for the fall they've said. This is motivating me to move my teachings in a direction where I can lead more groups the way I'd grown to love in the teacher training format and not have a centre decide if I'm teaching or not. It's going to take some time to develop ways to be an independent teacher, especially a way to market and advertise courses, but I think I owe it to myself to create work in my field as a yoga teacher, that's more secure or feels more that way. Obviously no one's secure and things can change at any time, but at least making a plan for it seems like a good idea.