“But that’s just an avocation, not a profession.” Someone previously close to me, no need to name names, said this to me years ago as I pondered the idea of teaching fitness full time. As a profession.
In between long stretches of ass-time in a desk chair scrolling through emails and squinting at little boxes of statistical information on membership spreadsheets, I escaped to the fourth floor of the Athletic Club I worked at to lead other office warriors from area businesses through 60 minutes of planks, crunches, squat jumps and anything else that got them to connect with their physical bodies. For many, that noon hour would be the first time to feel any physical sensation from the neck down. They’d go back to work with a glow, a few beads of residual sweat (or a lot), a refreshingly achy set of worked-over thighs and a realization that, yes, I am alive.
And I’d go back to my ergo chair and keyboard fantasizing the rest of the day what it would be like to give this gift of mind/body connection all day long. Of what it would be like for this to be my profession.
But that other voice, for many subsequent years, won out. That’s just an avocation, Shannon.
Eventually, the voice within grew louder. My reason for being was beginning to crystallize. In yoga-land, we often refer to this as our Dharma. Or, in other words, our calling. Or our purpose in life.
After moving out of a painful relationship and into a healthy supportive one, my Dharma found its way outward. In the form of teaching yoga. Interestingly, I didn’t seek out yoga. It found me. It found me in the following manner:
- a torn gastrocnemius muscle after completing the Portland Marathon meant no more pounding on the asphalt. The peak-conditioned heart and lungs needed an outlet, however, and Power Yoga provided it.
- a broken heart couldn’t handle any competition, judgment, or team-oriented anything. I wanted to be left well alone, already. The warmly-lit room, meditative breathing, and encouraging, comforting words from the various instructors in class drew me back, again and again.
- an exciting journey across the country to build a new life, with a new man, in a new town had me seeking community in earnest. Again, yoga delivered – new friends, similar life experiences – all working toward an effortless crow pose.
And one day, that was it. I needed to share everything yoga gave to me. I needed to live my Dharma. And I am doing it today. I am not the best instructor. I am not the most experienced instructor, nor the most intuitive, but I am learning, growing, and sharing what I know every day.
As my profession. Not an avocation.