I recently took a new student workshop for my upcoming PhD program at the California Institute of Integral Studies. They were getting our juices flowing with some creative writing exercises. The hope is the development of creative writing skills ultimately leads to a well written dissertation.
One exercise is particular spoke to me. An exercise in Ekphrasis (“Description” in Greek). An ekphrastic poem is a vivid description of a scene or, more commonly, a work of art. Through narrating and reflecting on the action of a painting or sculpture, the poet can expand the artwork's meaning. Some notable examples you may have read in school are Keats' “Ode on a Grecian Urn” or Carlos' "Landscape with the Fall of Icarus".
So as a good workshop participant, I took a stab at it by reflecting on "Abaporu" (The Man That Eats People) painted by Tarsila do Amaral.
Sun glares over cacti
Skies cloudlessly bright
Sits on grassy dryness
Thoughts of consumption
Tastes of emotions, souls, lives
Boundary + Less
How does another's act of "cannibalism" expand your thoughts on cultivating your personal boundaries?
I don't know about you but I have the tendency to over-schedule myself... teach too many classes and privates, work too much overtime, etc. I don't just sit sit and do nothing (or do something for myself just for fun). I go and go and go until I hit a wall. When I was younger, I noticed I would do this to the point of self-sabotage. So, I started to become more aware of this habit.
The strategy I use that helps me NOT over-schedule and ultimately burn-out is lots of bourbon…just joking. OK...maybe just a little bourbon.
Seriously, I purposely take a step back and analyze my calendar about every quarter. I look for places where I’ve overbooked myself, places where I’ve had to cancel appointments because I just did not want to “people” that day, etc.
Then I make adjustments. I stop teaching certain classes (sometimes that has meant walking away from great establishments), I stop booking so many private sessions, I reduce my overtime hours at the day job, etc.
My clients also benefit from my adherence to sitting down and trimming my calendar by seeing that they too don't have to do everything and be everywhere.
Instead of spreading myself too thin, I can be truly present.
"Time is what we want most, but what we use worst"-William Penn
I was once hired at a recreation center for a class called “All Levels Hatha Yoga”. The core group had been taking this class for a year. I soon realized they had never been taught alignment, pranayama...well, let's just say, they pretty much hadn't really been taught anything "yoga" in the course of the year. They were also all over 60 years old. Not surprisingly, I had to teach with a lot of modifications and props.
After nine months, a director (a non-yoga instructor) takes my class (they develop a performance assessment based on one class) for my yearly appraisal. A week later, we have my performance discussion.
Director: You do this weird breathing thing that I’ve never seen.
Me: You mean pranayama? No other yoga teacher here does pranayama? So, I then explained what pranayama was and why I have the class do it.
Director: We advertise this as a Hatha Yoga class. Why are you not linking breath to movement?
Me: Do you know what Hatha Yoga means? So I explained Hatha, Vinyasa, etc. and the differences between styles.
Director: Why don’t you use modifications like other instructors?
Me: The poses are already "modified" to the level of the students. I don’t show them the hardest version and then modify down-that’s demoralizing.
Director: You need to make the class harder, so more students come.
Me: So, the students you have are not important and you would rather I drive them out of the recreation center in order to increase numbers. It sounds like you want young students and don’t value your older students. You also understand that if I make it harder-your current students will get hurt, right?
And so the discussion went….which leads me lead this crazzzy concept called ETHICS!
There are certain values that informed my decision-making in this particular situation. They include:
What Where My Options:
So What Did I Do?
Based on my professional and personal ethics which are ultimately framed and defined by the yama-s and niyama-s, I could not stay in a place with that type of moral and ethical compass. I gave notice and I quit.
I use the yama-s and niyama-s daily in my professional and personal life. They guide me in developing classes and therapeutic offerings that are non-harming, truthful, honest and informed. I always put the student or client first and meet him/her/them where they are on the yoga journey. This has always included making my services adaptable and accessible both physically and financially.
How do the yama-s and niyama-s frame your daily life?
What ethics or values do you hold dear? Personally or Professionally?
How do you handle a situation when someone crosses those boundaries?
Albert Camus: "A man without ethics is a wild beast loosed upon this world."
I AM Boundless Bliss Yoga. Just me. I'm a one-lady band. I'm a yoga therapist. I didn't start out to be a yoga therapist, I just wanted to learn more and SHAAAZZAMM...here I am.