running a yoga studio · yoga · yoga blogs · yoga teaching

Stories from the Yoga Teacher’s Mat: Dealing with The Neighbors

Oh, the things they don’t mention in yoga teacher trainings… There you are, newly-minted and starry-eyed. You are going to bring yoga to everyone ~ and anyone ~ who has the courage to step through your door. You will teach to whomever shows up, and if they can’t afford your classes, you’ll set up some kind of exchange and have a super-clean room and the most organized prop shelves and maybe even a surfeit of homemade jam. You get settled in, and one day, change arrives.

Your landlord wants your lovely space for some other purpose, so you scramble to find another place to rent. If it’s too far away, you’ll lose students, because change is hard enough without adding the stress of carving another 15 minutes out of your day in order to get to a yoga class, even though you really need that class in order to de-stress in the first place.

You find a new space, one with super-limited parking, but there’s a sensible solution: public parking a block away. On the same side of the street! Yet your neighbor ~ a fellow small business owner ~ thinks he is King of the Road. He calls you in the middle of your summer vacation, and the only reason you’re checking voicemail is because you’re bored, sitting at a public laundromat while your smelly camping laundry gets clean and dry. There you are, calm from days of being in the woods, and some a**hole hollers at you about all the things they fear will happen and you haven’t even moved in it. Welcome to the neighborhood.

Soon after classes begin in this new space, you’ve grown enough that you can add other teachers to your roster and the sun is shining. One day Mr. God walks in on a class and insists that the idiot who parked their car too close to one of ‘his’ spots needs to get up and move it immediately. This war over parking will continue the entire two years you are in this location, and there are no tears shed when you decide to move. You’re heading to a bigger, brighter, better space 5 blocks away ~ with tons of parking RIGHT THERE ~ and you feel like okay, we’re good. No one will get lost in the process, we’re in the same town, just around the corner, and the owner is great about plowing and replacing lightbulbs and all that.

Your new building, a big old brick mill, is perfect in so many ways ~ including the fact that there are lots of empty spaces around you and there is a park across the street and so much q u i e t …

After you sign the lease for another year, you get neighbors below. And when these neighbors, who keep their office phones turned to the highest volume possible, complain about how noisy your students are ~ oh, the deafening sound of blankets being tossed about ~ you try your very best to meet their grumpiness with aplomb. When the same neighbor shows up to a class in progress to holler at your 89 year old student that she better move her car, ‘Now!’, you try and stand your ground. But there’s something about tall men hollering that brings out your cowering Inner Child, and so you make everyone sit there while you take your student’s keys and move her car. And you mutter whilst wondering what is it about small town, small-business owners that brings out the Stupid, and the Inconsiderate, and the Me Me Me?

The little stressors can wear a person down, even one tempered by years of yoga. They’re the stressors never really talked about honestly in a yoga teacher training. They’re what I call the ‘Lost Scrolls’ of becoming a yoga teacher in the modern age.

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