Teaching (Yoga) as a Calling

Do you have a calling?

Do you know what that calling is?

Don't think you do? Well guess what! We all have one, and some of us take a while to find out what it is. For some, it takes a whole life time...

As a child, I remember being asked what I wanted to do when I grew up. I would often respond, that I wanted to help people. I really had no idea what that meant, but somewhere along the way, I thought studying psychology would be the way to live out my calling. And then I studied theology in the early 70's, when so much change was in the air, and thought this would be my route.

The one thing I said I would never do is teach. Yes, really... Seriously! It was the one thing I was bound and determined NOT to do...

But God, the Universe, or whatever, had other plans for me, and through a series of circumstances, I wound up teaching high school one year while I was finishing my Master's degree, because I needed a job. Desperately. I was offered a job on the spot and I took it. That should have been my first clue. They wanted someone - anyone - to take the job!

It ended up being such a horrendous year in many ways. I could write a book about my experiences. When I tell stories about that year, people think I made them up. I think the one everyone likes the best is the story of the girl caught "entertaining" boys in the confessional in the chapel during the lunch shift. And I don't mean telling jokes! A friend of mine who was also a school teacher said I lied and made this up. Until it happened to her! She eventually caught a pair of students in the confessional in her own school. (Obviously, we are talking Catholic schools here!)

I took my second job teaching high school to prove to myself that it couldn't be that bad everywhere. And it wasn't. I proceeded to spend the next 23 years teaching at two Visitation schools, first in St. Paul, Minnesota, and then in Georgetown, in Washington DC.

My son, whose birthday is today, was actually conceived at the beginning of a school year, and I was in labor on graduation day, in 1985...Talk about perfect timing - and it was totally unplanned! I guess teaching was in my genes!

In 2002, I left teaching high school, to teach yoga part time, which I had been doing on the side for about 5 years at that point.

I've never made a lot of money at it. In fact, some years, like the last couple, I've brought in enough to cover my yoga workshops, training, and related travel expenses, and that's about it. But, that's okay. I never made a lot teaching high school either, and its not why I choose to do either one.

I knew early on, I wasn't interested in becoming a nationally known teacher. There are many others who are more talented and gifted practitioners - and, maybe even better teachers. Though my students will tell you that is open for debate. But, I did know, that I wanted to make a difference in my own local community, and just introduce regular folks to yoga.

In her last show, Oprah spoke of what a calling is. It is something that lights you up. She spoke of letting your life speak for you, and that when you do that, you will receive in direct proportion to what you give. And that's what I have tried to do. And that's what I have received...

Oprah also spoke of being a safe harbor for others. She urged her listeners to connect. Embrace. Liberate. Love somebody. Then then spread that love to two and then more - and see what a difference it makes.

That's what I have tried to do with all my students throughout the years. Sometimes I have succeeded at it better than at other times. For the times I missed the mark, I am sorry.

Today, I looked at my students whom I teach at my home studio - a small, but dedicated group that has stood by me, through thick and thin when I left the studio I was at 3 and a half years ago. And so, I told them, that in the fall, I would offer them the opportunity to take two classes a week from me for the price of one. I wanted them to deepen their practice, and did not want money to stand in the way of that...

This little group has been wonderful. And they have seen tremendous trials. Death. Serious illness. Divorce. Infidelity. Cancer. And so forth. It seemed like such a little thing to offer, but I know it was the right thing to do...

What is your calling? It doesn't matter. Find what lights you up. And do it! Give, so that you may receive!


Doug said…
Very inspiring!
ange said…
as a catholic i was taught to be like Jesus. i always thought my calling was in the social service area of some sort, but since leaving a job which i stumbled into and i truly loved i have had time to pause and consider things. i worked in a technical, hands on job and i was so happy with the challenge it gave me. i have come to see my God given talents lay in a totally different are then social service - i am a blue/green INTP which make me more of a craftsman then a social worker. Jesus and i do in fact have something in common because i would be so happy swinging a hammer and building things.

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