This month has been, to put it bluntly, a bit of a bastard.
I'd like to leave it there for maximum impact but the trouble with trying to grow as a person is that you find yourself analysing what you've just said and rigorously examining the truth of it.
So to refine and qualify, financially this month has been a bit of a bastard.
Now this statement rates so highly on the Scale of Righteous Declarations that I can legitimately advance it further ..:
Financially, this month has been a total and absolute f**ker.
This household, like many others, is still nursing the Christmas and New Year economic hangover. But in addition, Chris and I have had to find money for two tax bills, two MOTs, replacing a fridge that decided to weep its last icy tears on Christmas Eve quickly followed by the oven in what appeared to be some sort of kitchen appliance suicide pact. So when two venues pulled hire for my classes in the same damn week, you can imagine my reaction. Or if you can't imagine it, hop across to the Berwick & Borders Facebook page and scroll down to soak up my despair, ire and utter frustration. A household in which both earners are self-employed and dependent on people doing and providing what they said they would is always going to be financially precarious. It's extremely difficult to put money aside for rainy days because you're playing a constant game of catch-up from the last time class numbers dipped or customers cancelled.
This is why yoga classes in the West seem dominated by nice middle-class yoga teachers who are already financially secure.* Often yoga teaching is their second career built on the economic ballast of their first. They may need to contribute to a household of course, but it's unlikely that they're solely responsible for the big bastard bills such as mortgage or rent and all the utilities. Yoga, despite what social media would have you believe, is not a career that will provide you with a sexy lifestyle shot through with even tans, sand between the toes, and all the organic hemp pants you could shake your perfect, Instagrammable arse in.
If you're lucky (and young, photogenic, hypermobile, with a degree in marketing and parents happy to stump up for studio space) you may ~ through back-to-back classes and a self-promotion campaign so unrelenting that everyone will hate you right before the moment you hate yourself ~ become one of the rare breed of "yoga celebrities". And it is this idea of fame and fortune that lures so many to the yoga-teacher cliff-edge, lemmings with reinforced gussets.
My heart broke a little this week as I scrolled through the fantasy land that is Instagram. Two people of my acquaintance have given themselves the title of "public figure" in their bios. Now, I reckon Winston Churchill could have inarguably listed himself as a public figure, as could Barack Obama, Helen Mirren or, at a push, Rylan.
Yet two people, one a student teacher and the other so recently qualified that he's still damp, felt the imperative to position themselves as public figures. The intention is clear: to be noticed, to stand out, to be respected, to be followed. Essentially, to be loved.
We could go on about how wide of the mark from the essence of yoga this is. But let's not get sidetracked. Instead, let's think about how the middle-class commodification of yoga in the West has got us to this point. That there are now so many yoga teachers out there that it has become nearly impossible for anyone to make a modest living from it without selling their souls on the side of an Etsy tote bag. Without overstating their qualifications and experience. Without branding themselves as a bloody public figure. Look, if you're thinking of becoming a yoga teacher, do it because you love it. I promise you, it will deeply transform your life. But if you need to earn a living from it, be realistic. Keep the day-job going, Understand that the likelihood of reaching the giddy success level of your favourite YouTube yoga star is next to none. There is only one Adriene Mishler, and it's not you. Blimey, you might be thinking. Why does someone so bitter and cynical about the yoga world continue to teach? She'd be better off pinching old people in a care home somewhere.
After my Facebook meltdown ~ a classic pity post in all its ugly, bitter glory ~ I received many beautiful messages of sympathy, solidarity and understanding. The senders knew I needed a virtual hug and a reminder that things were going to be okay, which of course they were, They are. The wheel always turns. Amongst these messages, two things in particular stopped me in my tracks and gave me the slap around the chops I'd been lacking.
1. The offers of help coming from people with no other motivation than kindness.
They felt like hands pulling me free from the self-absorption of end-stage PMS (Poor Me Syndrome). There were folk out there, folk with their own problems and concerns, who had taken time out of their lives to help find a solution to my problems. Alternative venues were suggested and ultimately I was offered space, at no cost, so that one of the cancelled classes could go ahead.
I hate how the word "humbled" is now so overused as to sound all American talent show, but until we come up with another one we're stuck with it. I was completely humbled and touched. Sorry.
2. Out of the many amazing messages I received, one in particular stood out bringing a lump to my throat.
The writer recounted how classes had helped her through a difficult time in her life. They became a bright point in a period of darkness, enabling her to slowly reconnect with the world and move forward with optimism and confidence.
Ulp. For this courageous student, the healing power of yoga had worked and, I'm happy to report, is continuing to work its magic.
Come on. You don't need me to tell you: This is why I teach yoga, and this is why I will continue to teach yoga until I'm old, grey and involuntarily fart when I slip off a kerb.
Let the new fridge be damned.
*source: Finger in the Wind Statistics