Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Shawn's Daily Life- Obvious Lessons (Re)Learned

In early January 2010,
Shawn and Grizzly waved goodbye to Chris as he raced to make his connection to LA from
San Francisco. It was official, Shawn had decided to commit to becoming a strong yoga teacher, thereby, changing their joint plans. Shawn was on her way to Petaluma, CA to learn from the mentor she had chosen, Lynn Whitlow. As both Shawn and Chris know, Lynn is an effective and inspirational senior Bikram Yoga teacher. Plagued by self-doubt regarding her decision, Shawn felt lost, knowing little about the details of her new situation. Without Chris to lean on, it was a rough transition. Shawn and Grizzly spent several nights in hotels first in SF and then Petaluma while searching for a suitable living situation.

“Trust the process” was commonly heard throughout Bikram’s Yoga Teacher Training (trust is very difficult for Shawn), often followed by, “You’re right where you’re supposed to be.” These phrases kept rattling around in Shawn’s brain. “Is it what you expected?” asked long time White-family-friends Burg and Marcia, “No” was the resounding answer. First lesson: Let go of expectations and preconceived ideas and just flow in the present, trust yourself. The Petaluma yoga studio that Lynn and Jeff were opening was still under construction, so Shawn had no where to teach. She was able to help in the final weeks of studio construction, invaluable knowledge for how to open a yoga studio, but still, was impatient to be teaching and improving- isn’t that what she came here for? Yet she felt powerless and cornered. It took some of the not-so-gentle nudging that Lynn and Jeff are well-known for, to get her second big lesson: Take control of your life.

Having made the commitment to improve her teaching fresh out of training but without work in Petaluma, Shawn went in search of studios where she could teach. First, she made a list of all the yoga studios within a two hour drive (fifteen of them!), and researched how big the studio, how many classes were available, the studio director’s reputation, and what the possibility of picking up classes at each studio were. Shawn decided to focus on the closest best fit according to all the variables. Daily, she scoured the online yoga schedules to see who was teaching at what studio when and set her schedule around what classes she would take that day, spending the rest of the day helping where she could at the Petaluma studio. She made a point of going to studio directors classes and after class striking conversation telling them she was interested in teaching at their studio and available. Then, Shawn made her presence known at the studio by practicing there as frequently as possible taking different teachers’ classes all the while.

Bikram Yoga Santa Rosa, which is located twenty minutes north of Petaluma, was a no-brainer. Since moving back to California, Shawn had been practicing there daily and discussing feedback with Lynn and Jeff about each teachers’ class she took. Thus, she learned how to verbalize what teaching was effective and what was not. The very nice studio director, Bill Butcher, quickly made space for a new, enthusiastic teacher and placed Shawn on the Santa Rosa schedule with two classes a week while she looked for more permanent work.

Bikram Yoga Walnut Creek is a little bit over an hour away, and Shawn went to take studio director Virginia Lam’s class. Unfortunately, Virginia didn’t teach because a new teacher was doing an audition class. Still, Shawn was able to meet Virginia and immediately felt positive and comfortable. Thinking of the positive reminders from her friend and yoga teacher Margery, Shawn put aside her insecurity and told Virginia exactly when she was available to teach an audition class, which “conveniently” coincided with classes that Virginia was scheduled to teach. She told Virginia that "Now was the time". After her interview class, Walnut Creek promptly snatched her up and put her on the schedule immediately with 14 classes in February. Lesson: be your own cheerleader, tell them how it is.

Bikram Yoga San Rafael is a half an hour south, the second closest studio to Petaluma. Shawn took class from both directors, Jefferson and Arjay. At the studio, she reconnected with another familiar face, Mel Molino, one of Shawn’s advanced yoga teachers from Funky Door in Berkeley. Shawn had high hopes to teach at San Rafael. After several weeks of eagerly showing up and reminding the studio she was there and available, Shawn finally got an audition on February 4th and was promised classes. Shawn persistently sent her availability every week, without losing hope. As the weeks went by, and no classes were presented, she was finally called in to teach her first class on St. Patricks Day. She is now on the schedule for Wednesday evenings. Lesson: Persistence pays off, never give up!

Bikram Yoga Petaluma finally opened February 17th. Shawn is currently on the schedule teaching 3 classes a week and practices there even more frequently, constantly giving and receiving feedback. Petaluma is now her home studio and Shawn’s learning curve has rapidly steepened as she learns about yoga and life directly from her mentors, Lynn and Jeff. As long as the benefits outweigh the drawbacks, Shawn will continue moving forward towards becoming the yoga teacher she would like to be. Lesson: It will never be easy, but it will be better.

Now, three months to the day from when we parted in San Francisco Airport, Shawn is preparing to board a flight south to Puerto Vallarta to be reunited with Chris and Tao for a 9-day long April birthday celebration. Lesson: Absence makes the heart grow fonder...

1 comment:

  1. Shawn!! Oh my goshhh- the Punta Mita anchorage is SOOO rolly right now... you came down at a good time!

    Very true about how genuinely rare it is to get such a large group of young people together... and what a ball it was! I think Eric and I should make more of an effort to go and bug Carmela and Pisces... maybe I can feed Jacob some of my terrible P.B. pasta!

    Your pictures of Bikram's Yoga are COOL! If I was that flexible... oye... I can't even think about it!

    With your sailing adventures coming up, Nanu isn't so sure where we'll be when you're on Tao... but we should definitely keep in touch...! Not too sure how much longer we'll be in Punta Mita for... but the surf is s'osed to pick up again...

    Anyhow, thanks for dropping a line! Keep up the good work!!

    Rach and Eric