Scaling Back Teaching Yoga

scaling back teaching yoga

Recently I have come to the revelation that I simply do not have enough time during the day to get the things done that I want to get done. This includes my recently started landscaping business, my music and this blog. So I have decided to do a little bit of scaling back teaching yoga and my yoga instruction schedule.

I want to spend more making things like EDM tracks and working on beautiful landscapes. My creativity is something that I feel I have to cultivate actively. I want to spend more time making things like this vector image below that is now my site logo. I also haven’t gotten as much time as I’d prefer to practice yoga on my own.

Elliots world logo
Elliot’s new blog logo

As much as I love teaching yoga full-time, it is an enormous time and energy commitment to teach even one class a week. Right now, I am teaching 7. So, I have decided to cut back on how much yoga I instruct namely my Friday evening class in Auburn.

Lately, I have gotten very focused on quality. I am producing less EDM tracks and spending more time with the tracks that I release. FlyBy, my most recent dubstep track, is a result of this. I have also felt the desire to teach fewer classes for quite a while, so that I can get deeper into music and landscaping. The same has happened with my writing.

This is the LAST WEEK I will be teaching the 5PM FLOW @ EW Auburn on Fridays.

We have a new teacher coming in to take over Friday night. I am excited to free up my schedule for more time to DJ and Landscape. Although scaling back teaching yoga is not easy; I am conflicted about it. However, I do think that the East Wind Auburn Community will be very happy with the new teacher. She will be an excellent addition to the studio.

Teaching Yoga is still my passion

Hopefully, I will continue to teach yoga for the rest of my life. But I don’t want to limit myself while I am young and able to do more physically. And let’s be honest, yoga is not the most lucrative endeavor on planet Earth. To survive comfortably as a yoga teacher, I need multiple jobs. That’s why I started landscaping.

Why I Love Landscaping

Back when I first started teaching yoga, I remember getting very discouraged with the state of the world. Most of my frustration stemmed from changes in the climate and unsustainable exploitation of natural resources. Landscaping seemed like a good way to create change in this area, and still does. I enjoy choosing plants that will thrive in environments. I try to create miniature sanctuaries for life within the yards that I design. Ideally, all the plants work in unison to support each other. The design and plant selection aspects of landscaping are my favorite!

I missed yoga today (10/24) because I was supposed to be working in the Bay Area

on a big landscaping project. I might have to work on it this Friday(10/26) instead, so if you are planning on coming to my classes on Friday this week, there may be a sub (they will be great, promise!). I don’t like getting subs, but it is unavoidable as I work on this job that requires a good amount of traveling.

Sorry to my students for scaling back yoga teaching, I hope you all understand why!

New Year and New Resolution for the Future

new year fireworks

2018 Happy New Year

New Year of Music, the Eros Album, and Getting into Playing Live Shows

I am working hard this new year on an album/Live show experience that will be a couple of years in the making. The music itself is forming pretty quickly, but will require a bunch of visual work to bring to life the world that I am creating. Also, Ableton is releasing a new version of Live soon in the new year. That should make my creativity spike in February or March.

There is going to be a story line behind it that I have been working on for a few months. I have written some great beats and even have a few near complete tracks. But I want to ensure that the tracks are all cohesive, so I am making sure to design sounds that I use across various tracks. This is my first concept album, so get stoked.

New Year Yoga and Ashtanga

Living in America and practicing lots of yoga at the same time is a difficult endeavor. Right now, I am getting ready for the New Year rush. The studio is going to be packed with awesomeness soon! When you throw teaching on top of that and a second job because teaching isn’t enough by itself, you have just enough to make someone completely exhausted.

I still practice yoga every day, but not for 2 hours or more, which is how I’d like to. First thing in the morning! But I still take a day or two off each week. I love just waking up early to the practice and breathing. And I’ve really started to miss India. There is something really special about going over there to learn yoga from the people who have experienced it as a part of tradition.

I have my first Ashtanga Workshop on February 3rd, so get ready! I am going have people sign-up beforehand and give out lots of information before we get started with the primary series.

More focus on Quality of Experience

Both in music and in yoga I try to focus on the experience of the person that has signed up for the time period and making their time as enjoyable possible. I am trying to do that while working on giving individuals attention and affirmation as often as I can. I also try to help people to understand the difficulty of what they are trying to do, but in the new year I will simply be continuing to work on connecting with individuals.

A YouTube Channel in the new year

My biggest New Years Resolution is to start a YouTube channel where I can share what I know about yoga. I  think that my knowledge will be super useful to people of all ages! Also, I have a lot of killer abdominal exercises.. I will be carving out a section of my website for this as well, so expect some changes soon.

Music everyday in 2018 is a given. I am recommitting to my daily yoga practice. And finally I want to try to post a blog article every day of 2018.

Happy New Year Everyone! Let me know about your resolutions/goals are!

Journal, Updates, and Developments for the Start of 2017

journal

Dear Journal, 2016 was a long year…

For the past year I have been making music and teaching yoga for my full-time jobs. I haven’t written about it at all, but now I want to journal about it a bit. Although music doesn’t pay yet, yoga has become a sustainable profession for me. I can pay my bills now, which is fantastic! Teaching yoga is really a fun way to make a living. But my situation now is the result of three years of hard work that no one will ever see or appreciate in the way that I do.

How Did I Get Here?

In 2014, after I finished my teacher training, I began to teach yoga for free. I probably have journal articles on here about it. I had two karma classes a week and used those classes to get my teaching chops. I remember how nerve-racking a lot of those first classes were and how difficult it was to get the ball rolling with my confidence level, projecting and inflecting my voice, and figuring out how to teach people the yoga I had learned for the last 5 years or so. Now, I get to enjoy some of the fruit of all that hard work. I’m not out of the grind yet by any means, but I feel that I am being rewarded for all of the hard work in my past. Karma is nice sometimes.

Making it Work

Last year, many of my days were filled with landscaping and doing odd-jobs and such just to survive. I didn’t have much money after India and its taken me a while to figure out how to make money without feeling like a slave to some corporation. Now I am teaching 9 classes a week and am loving it! I believe very strongly in putting lots of time and thought into my art forms and the added classes will help me to get my classes to the quality that I want for my students.

Onto the Future and 2017

2017 is going to be a year of growth, even more so than last year. I am recording more yoga classes, planning on starting a youtube/instagram video/photo series, and make music all the time. Now I just have to find ways to travel a bit on the days that I can to keep myself exploring. That is the one part of my life that I miss tremendously and can’t wait to get back to. Exploring new places, things, and ideas is my favorite thing to do. The lack of travel is probably the biggest reason I haven’t been blogging as much lately; traveling stimulates my mind in ways that make me want to write and share my experiences.

My First Yoga Workshop

I am going to do my first workshop in a couple of months at East Wind and am hoping to get a framework built for a class that I could do monthly (on the ashtanga primary series). Connecting with individuals in the yoga space and learning about their journeys is one of my favorite things about yoga. I am hoping that workshops will be a great way to spread my message to the neighboring studios and to expand the yogi community. My message is also getting clearer as I do more yoga. Fear drive us away from the peace that we all crave. My trip to India was intrinsic for realizing my teaching methodology; I am going to have to go back sometime in the next couple of years to continue to study myself. Although right now I have no idea how I am going to make that happen.

La Musica

Music is going phenomenally (check out my soundcloud). The sound is tuning in quite nicely; technical expertise is really starting to show in the tracks that I produce. My biggest improvements to make are working on composition. Melodies, Chord progressions, timing, verses, and vocals. I have one song right now, AUTO, that I am super excited about; I think it’s by far my best work yet. But I also think that with a new song every couple of months.

ElliotTelford.com (coming soon!)

I have decided to consolidate my websites/blogs into one brand. It’s simply too difficult to pay attention to multiple sites and all of the other shit that I have to pay attention to all at the same time. All of my music will be available on this website, very shortly. PadaYoga is changing to ElliotTelford.com, so I can have a more unified web presence. I will also continue to upload free yoga classes and music so there’s lotsa free stuff here.

The Wanderer Series

I will be finishing the wanderer (my first book) in the next few months as well. That will be available here, although I’ve decided to take the series offline until the book has been completed. In my opinion, it’s not fair to drastically change the plot lines, relationships, or the story in front of the audience, so I want to take it offline to work on it. It is my first book after all. I am also working on more music videos for my music.. which isn’t time-consuming at all. Not like it takes an hour to render, then an hour to upload, then an hour to process, or anything CRAZY like that… sigh

Someday, I will work with visual artists to make my music come alive, but today is not that day, nor is 2017 probably that year, though I hope it is!

The future of this blog is bright! Let me know if I missed anything 🙂

Elliot/the E.T.

Upgrade Complete

Upgrade

I’ve just finished updating the blog to scale as it grows, as you may know I’ve been running out of space for all of my pictures recently, which isn’t good because readers love pics. Now I have a lot more space and the pages of the site should load much faster. I’m excited to continue writing and to tie the blog into more of my yoga activities. Please let me know if you experience any issues with the site, but with new hardware I’d be surprised if you find anything…

This comes at the perfect time, since I am right about to start ramping up teaching yoga classes in Sacramento and possibly in Roseville and other suburbs. I move into Northern oak park on the 15th so I will also be upgrading my living situation, which I am very excited about.

I use Synthesis for hosting, in case you are interested. They are a bit expensive, but I’m really hoping the performance increases will keep people reading on the site instead of bouncing with a slow load time. I’m excited to see how the site performs over time. (PS this is my shortest post ever, I need to do this more!) Enjoy your week!

Adjusting Ashtanga

Ashtanga_Advanced_Series

I am a huge fan of the Ashtanga practice. The intensity, the discipline, the mindlessness, and the routine of the sequential practice makes it like a second home for me. I always know that there are mornings where I can wake up and work without thinking, push myself without thinking of how, breathing without having to plan for a destination. But there are some problems with practicing the Ashtanga practice exclusively.

The Ashtanga series were a prescription for Krishnamacharya’s Indian students, namely his most famous student Pattabhi Jois. Krishnamacharya made them specifically for 15-year-old Indian men that were training for hours each day and that didn’t have previous injuries, or probably a lot of other sports and exercise experience.

This means that Krishnamacharya had a specific purpose in creating this sequences for young and fit Indian men and that the sequence is optimized for the Indian skeleton and definitely not for the other types of human skeletons. This becomes especially apparent when westerners begin trying lotus pose, Kukkutasana, and the Marichyasanas.

So there comes a point when one starts to realize that certain poses simply aren’t good for their body. This is half-bound lotus pose for me. The reason is that my knees are simply not strong enough to stretch my hips as deeply as the stretch requires, even though my hips are very open and I have good alignment. At a certain point, we have to realize that the body is mechanical; it has very real limitations that you will sooner or later be coming into increased contact with.

In my first two weeks, I was injured in the Ashtanga sequence. Marichyasana B, I can remember the stress of feeling injured like it was yesterday, my lateral collateral ligament snapped and I heard a very audible pop while I was in the full pose with the bind. I quickly got out of the pose and finished my sequence, then went home to look up some rehab exercises for my knee. It took a couple of days of exercises and taking it easy to let my knee heal. Not a fun few days while I was healing.

I continued my full practice for the rest of the time in India, making adjustments and skipping poses when it felt right. I did some extra work to make sure my knee was stable and working properly and avoided walking too much to make sure that the joint was getting less stress. Slowly full lotus opened up for me while I was rehabilitating my knee, though there is still quite a bit of space left to create in my hips. The injury forced me to be more conscious of what I was doing, to not accept things as they were explained, in black and white.

What is the point of that story? Every body is unique, so how can one series work for everyone’s skeleton? It can’t.

I think that there are parts of the Ashtanga sequence that are almost perfect in their ideal succession, mainly the standing series of the primary series. There is something especially cleansing about doing the poses in that order, and the inversions at the end are simply magical.

Sunday, I taught my first class back in the states. It was great, it was easy to forget how much I love teaching yoga until I was in the room again with all the wheels turning. It was a hybrid style so we warmed up slowly, with a bit of flow including some low lunges complete with back-bends, and even an extended child’s pose. Then we moved into standing postures and the full Sun Salutation B sequence, holding warrior 1 for less and less time and getting into the full back-bend in upward dog. Then we moved into the entirety of the Ashtanga practice. Instead of doing floor stretches, we did a bunch of ab work and then moved into some final yin-type stretches. I loved teaching the sequence and it felt right for the class; music was slow and complimentary more than anything else.

So if you come to my classes, except a little flair of Ashtanga. It’s evolving into something pretty cool and I think that someday soon I might help to develop a new series based on the Primary Series. It’s all an evolution 🙂

Modena & Verona, Italy | Zurich, Switzerland | Paris, France

mountains_w_path

The past few days have been a blur of beauty, incredible meals, unforgettable architecture, and time to share with my sisters and mom. I think I will look back on these last few weeks fondly for a long time in the future; so much has happened in such a short time.

Two days ago, we arrived in Modena, Italy with the specific purpose of eating lunch at Osteria Francescana, recently named the second best restaurant in the world with 3 Michelin stars. I will write a whole blog about it later, when I have my blog’s storage situation figured out, but it was a 12 course meal paired with wines and quite literally the coolest and most luxurious experience of my life; quite a contrast to Dhaka, Bangladesh. We moved on to Verona for the night, had a great pizza, then left for an eight-hour drive to Zurich today where we ate yet another pizza. Zurich speaks German, but is an interesting mix of Italian, German, and a smidgen of French, though my French has been all but useless here. I am really looking forward to speaking my second language tomorrow when I meet up again with my best friend from Paris. He’s probably the biggest reason I was a French minor to begin with, then later decided to go all out with the major and switch from International business, so I could spend a year in Paris.

Suffice to say that I am very tired of traveling at this point, but also very happy to see some great friends over the next few weeks. It’s ironic how traveling comes in waves and you simply have to go with the flow, disregarding how you feel oftentimes.

I am excited to feel the French side of my personality return to the foreground of my mind; over the past couple of weeks adjusting to my family has done the same for some deep seeded aspects of my personality. The oldest sister is particularly responsible, but in the best way; she reminds me that I only have to be human and that there’s only so much I can do. Sometimes I can be too ambitious.

Verona and Modena beckon return journeys; Italy is a city far removed from certain technologies and has a culture of presence and amiability. I would love to spend a month there at some point in the far future. Zurich does as well, but perhaps in a trip all to its own; if this journey has taught me anything, it has been finding the gentle balance between movement and stillness, activity and resting. I should simply do what my nature beckons me to.

Fatigue is setting in at the apartment in Zurich, but the city is beautiful. Even the gas stations in Switzerland are health oriented, we stopped today and got an amazing green salad, fruit salad, and sandwich before our salmon pizza dinner. I can truly say that I am getting used to the amenities and absolute luxuries of the western world once again, though there is a newfound appreciation that is unexplainable.

My New song is being uploaded now, head over to alienmusique.wordpress.com to have a listen. A new Wanderer post is also on the way, which I have not forgotten about, but am spending a lot of time on the next major section of the “to-be” book. Thanks for reading 🙂

Returning to the West

Dhaka Streets_1

The past few days have been a difficult adjustment period. The accumulation of stress over the past few months was nothing short of monumental and I needed time to allow everything to process.

Budget traveling in Asia was fun, rewarding, and a life-changing experience. I would do it again, but I would have planned things much differently, spending more time in Myanmar rather than Vietnam and Thailand because of the touristic climates of the latter two countries. Vietnam is also particularly difficult as an American; there are massive amounts of propaganda about the war and people just aren’t excited to have you in their country. At least that was my interpretation of my experiences.

India was exactly what I needed; a combination of challenge and pure peace, allowing me to move far deeper into my yoga practice and mediation than I had anticipated. Nepal was a much-needed rest and I feel so lucky to have avoided the earthquakes and the devastation that they caused. Then Dhaka happened.

After I while, I realized that the east is so similar to the West; we are all essentially the same in our humanity and have differences and unique qualities that separate cultures, individuals, and groups of people. And in that uniqueness, comes a diversity that is relatively similar; there are always good people and bad people, people looking to take advantage of you and people looking to help you.

This is why perception is such an important part of the human experience; we base our decisions off of what we have experienced in the past.

Dhaka was so hard because of the way that their society is organized. People are willing to be completely wrong when trying to help you, as long as they can feel like they’ve helped you. They look up to white people and at the same time despite them. It seems that every sword has two sides.

Dhaka was probably the hardest day of my life, but it was also one that gives me the most hope. When people work together we can do anything we want. The way people worked together to help me was truly an incredible thing to witness.

I need to return to Myanmar because I was only able to visit Yangon, but the people were so nice. They went about their business until you came into contact with someone at a restaurant, or through whatever interaction and they were so kind. Far nicer than any country besides India, which I found to be somewhat similar. Thailand was close to Myanmar, but the people seem to be so sick of tourists. Though Bangkok is not really a city I am looking forward to visiting in the future, the north of Thailand was breath-taking and the locals were so nice. But I think they were as sick of the foreigner party scene as I was.

The came Vietnam, which I had always heard great things about. There is probably a lot racism against Americans because of the Vietnam war and the people seem to have taken on the victim mentality completely, like they are entitled to things because of it. And its hard to argue that they shouldn’t.

In the south of Vietnam I was scammed at every opportunity possible, there seemed to no stop to what people were willing to do for a bit of money. The only reprieve was from the people we were already staying with, who tended to be very kind and thoughtful and wonderful towards their clients. There were a lot of very nice people, but there was a lot of dislike directed at me for no reason by people in general. It was probably due to being American, which I think is obvious when I travel.

Coming back to the West through Berlin was great; the country is very in touch with its history and many of the exhibits of the wall in the city are completely eye-opening, full of facts and personalized stories, and bring the situation to life. It was nice to see both sides of the equation as well; how Hitler and the Nazi party came to power and why it was even a possibility in the country. A nice change from the one-sided propaganda in Vietnam.

Now I am in Prague, but spending the day recovering rather than traveling around. Two more days here should make for a lot of history and good food, site-seeing, and spending time with my family. I’m going to write an article on Berlin after this, so stay tuned for more experiences about the journey I am on.

 

Day 18 of Practice

temple in Gokulam

Today’s practice was very rewarding. Not for any particular reason, the Maricyasana postures, mostly C and D were as challenging as ever to get the bind, and supta kurmasana is always a lot like being put underwater, then resurfacing in a different world. A powerful pose, one of my new favorites. I also am enjoying working on the jump back from budjapidasana, which is a transition out of the arm-balance, into titibasana, then into crow and a jump back. I am also really getting the hang of jump-throughs, quite fun to execute with control.

Saraswathi is really fun to practice with. She has a strict demeanor but is really quite flexible with everything, kind of puts her foot down when necessary, but mostly stays aloof and asks about binds, which poses you did, and focuses on assisting and cueing individuals. The room is a powerful place, when you walk in you can feel the intensity of the energy. I can see myself learning all of the sequences with her, I like the way she sings sometimes and has a balance of intensity and detachment. indian streets

I’ve had a couple of rough patches with my knees, but its taught me a lot about how to open my hips safely. It’s pretty easy for me to overdo it on the knees, especially because I think I have a pretty high tolerance for pain. So it’s been a challenge in patience, because of course, I want to move on to the next poses, which are the hardest in the series. And I don’t love waiting for lotus, Padmasana. Setu Bandhasana and Garba Pindasana are the only two poses left in the series that I haven’t done before, mostly because I don’t quite have lotus pose yet. I think it’s just a question of time, it will happen when my body is ready. And it’s pretty great to watch unfold, because it is really such a challenge in patience for me.

The lesson I am really learning is to be where I am. I spent extra time in most of the poses, especially the twists to get my spine mobile for the Maricyasana series. I enjoy spending extra time in Urdhva Danurasana, Sirsasana, and Sarvangasana, all three make my mornings pretty unbeatable. The intensity of the practice lends itself to a blissful day, especially when I have no obligation. I get to practice existing. It’s that simple.

I have spending more and more time in meditation, letting thoughts simply pass through, not attaching to anything. It’s getting easier and easier to drop in, like a stream I am becoming more and more familiar with. Thoughts still don’t really stop, but sometimes they do. I think it’s a question of letting my brain run out of fuel and its hard with all of the stimulation I am getting. The stream changes in countless small ways each time I drop in so it takes time to re-adjust and melt back in. It is getting to be quite the reward in and of itself. I have also been spending an inordinate amount of time listening to talks about eastern religion, mostly Taoism, Hinduism, and Buddhism by Alan Watts, Osho, and a few more random dudes. I find Jainism to be absolutely fascinating, same with Sikkhism, but they aren’t quite as well-known in the west so I don’t concentrate on them. I might have to do more digging into Indian culture to find more of the different practices within the spiritual traditions.

Hinduism is alive and thriving in Mysore, especially Gokulam.

Mysore_Streets
Mysore

Temples are everywhere and the gods are visible in the lives of the people. The philosophy behind Hinduism is ingenious, it really allows the people to live together harmoniously. There’s always talk about Shakti, or the movement of energy working itself out. You could probably stand in the middle of most streets during rush hour and be avoided by the cars, they are really mindful of everything around them when they drive around here. You have to be, everyone is on a scooter. India has a certain type of organized chaos that I have never experienced anywhere else and that I am really going to miss when I leave.

I am mentally preparing myself for a vipasana, I think I’ll start at the beginning of April when I arrive in Kathmandu. 10 days, only silence,Gokulam meditation, no human contact. I am really expecting that to change the way I talk and think.

Tonight, I am going to be loud and make tons of noise. I get to DJ at a resort in the outskirts of the city, for a club that wants EDM mostly electro house. I have really been getting heavy into music ever since I began teaching yoga, so this is a great opportunity for me. I think of the two professions as completely complimentary, representing the yin/yang relationship of silence and meaning to letting go and simply being. I could see myself teaching a couple of classes in the morning, practicing before, then doing a set in the evening at a club. I think that lifestyle would suite me well, I enjoy a thorough change in pace quite often.street_corner

My set is already created, I used Ableton to create the mix and transitions beforehand, so I can focus on effects and managing the crowd. Should have some great pictures and hopefully a couple of videos afterwards. I will also release my set (if I can find the bandwidth) on my music site: alienmusique.wordpress.com. I’ll also release all the song names.

Wish me luck, it’s a moon day (day off for new moon) so I can just focus on music all day.