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The studio is creeping along just as I figured it would starting from scratch in this small town. Amazingly, it’s the yoga classes that have taken off, which is inspirational to me – I absolutely love teaching movement in this new form. In the beginning I stayed fairly accurate to what was introduced in my yoga alliance training, but that felt limiting and repetitive,so it didn’t take long for me to follow instinct and begin teaching the concepts of yoga by combining the traditional poses and yoga terminology with my understanding of physical development and movement from years of dance. It gives me this huge well of ideas and philosophies to draw from and everyday I make new teaching discoveries as a class unfolds. Sometimes suggestions or explanations come out of my mouth (inspired from what I am feeling or experiencing as I demonstrate in the class) and I wonder where the heck that came from – but it’s perfect and enhances the moment, and I feel I’m right where I belong at this stage in life. I’m in the yoga zone. It’s pretty cool.    

 My adult students come in everyday with warm smiles and open minds. This is the sort of person yoga attracts, so it is easy to feel attached and to care about their progress. More often than not, they have physical issues because yoga is so very therapeutic, and I spend my evenings reading,reading, reading, to keep up and learn about each student’s specific issue. If someone comes in with fibermylasia, sciatica pain, or arthritis, I’m ready –been knee deep in literature about these physical problems all month. I have one student fighting cancer, several with lower back issues and quite a few just battling serious stress.  I am committed to helping them. I’ve already seen progress – and so have they – they keep returning and often mention how they feel their body responding. There is something so lovely about the restorative qualities of yoga. Dance is all about art, but yoga is all about people. It is nice to focus on people for a change–to strike a more intimate connection with students at this stage of life.

 Teaching yoga (I’m currently teaching 7 classes a week –soon to add a special chair class for the flexibility challenged) keeps my own stress at bay. I have this deep sense of peace that nothing can shake. All the breathing,inner focus, and calm quiet that is a part of every class is anchored inside me now and because this makes the world feel more peaceful and decent, I want to share that inner quiet with others. I’m rather passionate about my classes –serious about making them effective.

 Meanwhile, I’m all into enhancing the comfort and ease of my students in every class while also pushing the body to new limits. So I use straps, blankets, blocks, chairs or the wall to create comfortable alignment in classic positions.  I roll and foldblankets for supported poses and walk around nestling my students into comfortable poses for deep relaxation. I’m ordering sandbags to give natural assistance to some poses and yesterday I purchased materials to make weighted eyebags with silk – filling them with flaxseed and lavender so students can feel slight pressure (relieves headaches) and enjoy darkness and aroma when they relax in the final portion of the class (savasana). It is sort of funny, because my staff used to kid me all the time about how often I used props in dances to enhance the theatrics of a piece. Heck, my children’s dance program is loaded with props to make exercises fun and the room is outfitted withlights and hands on apparatus to inspire. Is it any wonder I took to yoga props immediately?

 So, yoga is going well and I am delighted that I’ve added this to my arsenal of life experiences. Adding yoga to the dance studio also changes the entire feeling of the facility. I have a tea caddy downstairs so dance parents and yoga students can help themselves to organic tea whilewaiting in the lobby.  I take the time to talk to everyone, to learn about their lives beyond the studio. Many of my dance parents are wandering into the yoga classes, which forms a great relationship. I’m working hard to make this school a welcoming place where people connect – I want the new FLEX to be filled with positive energy, a place people want to hang out to escape from the stress of their lives – a placewhere you just soak up the creativity. Ah – I’m sounding foolishly romantic. But this is the kind of school I want this time around. I’ve had enough of the competitive, aggressive, dance fanatics to last a lifetime. I just don’t have it in me to fight the dance ego struggle with angry parents anymore. This time around, I want my dance parents to be my friends and I want everyone, parents, teachers, and students, to work together to make the dance experience lovely for all involved. I guess I’m naïve to think this can happen. So shoot me.

 Teaching dance again has been interesting. Mark and I went to Florida to teach some master classes and solos to former students. The event took place at the school of one of our previous students, now all grown up with a teaching career of her own. We’ve been careful to stay out of the dance struggles going on in Florida, especially since all the competing new schools are run by former FLEX students. The fact is we still care deeply about everyone of those now grown up “kids” struggling to build businesses of their own, but we agreed to go to this particular school because this former student has been a true friend despite everything that has transpired in the dance world.She actually came up and painted our new school the moment she heard we were opening, just to be supportive, and hey, need I point out that I didn’t go paint hers?

 She has never failed to recognize our part in her development as a dancer – has always shown appreciation and respect for us as mentors and friends, and wouldn’t dream of turning her anger towards us when the dance world in Sarasota got frustrating in the wake of our leaving. And though she is quick to pick my brain regarding studio management and has had many long talks to collect advice for her new school – she has never asked anything from us – even though I’m sure she would have liked to. So when she called and told us one of her central teachers had left without notice just as the season was opening and now she was stuck with too many students wanting solos to service, and kids were on the fence about staying or going, we were like,“Hey, if we can help, we’re there.” We’ve seen enough damage done to dance studios by teachers leaving and soliciting students to last a lifetime. So we agreed to teach so solos.  As expected, she made the visit positive in every way, even added a master class to make sure our travel and time away from home was compensated for. Her idea,not ours. She has a lot of class.

  It was lovely seeing all the familiar faces, seeing how our former students did or did not progress as dancers in our absence. Everyone’s attitude was positive and respectful – and it’s been a long time since we’ve experienced that in Florida.We drove down, taught for two days and drove home all in 48 hours. It was a killer, and my mom wasn’t pleased (hey, we were on a mission) . But seeing everyone gave us a good idea of what the students need now.We’ll be going back in a few weeks to finish some pieces, and this time I’ll be far more prepared (for mom too). I didn’t know what to expect from the first visit, but now I’ve had time to consider the levels, training needs, etc. of those aspiring dancers who bothered to attend. If I see them again, you can bet I’ll give them a dance challenge they need and deserve.

 Anyway, coming home to our little fledgling school with beginners who don’t know how to stand properly was a poignant experience. I guess you can say we’ve come full circle. I can’t believe we are beginning the entire dance process again, but as I look into the innocent faces of our cute,clueless new students I see possibilities they have yet to dream of.  It is a prime example of life – how circular it can be. Everything changes. Evolves. Shifts. Change breeds growth and that breathes life into our days. Change is painful, but good too. And it’s not like you can avoid it.

 Anyway, while in Florida, a dear friend took some pictures for us. I grabbed a dance student and posed her for some yoga shots for my newbrochure. The dancer looks great – not too groomed as a dance model would be, and just adult enough to seem like a regular yoga student. But at the same time, she is strong, flexible and has beautiful line. (I wasn’t about to usemyself -too old to be a model for fitness, that’s for sure.) I was so appreciative to both the dancer and the photographer – good friends who didn’t hesitate to do me the favor the minute I mentioned it. So, now once again, there are glimpses of the past making a subtle presence in our new life.  I couldn’t love that brochure featuring a beloved former student on the cover more even if I had a world famous yoga guru singing my praises on the front.


Ah – it is time to get my kids up for school. Enough rambling. Next time, I’ll tell you about my chicken and duck sharing a nest, and getting confused about parenting the eggs that hatched. I think we need poultry therapy. It’s bizzare…… 


About Ginny East Shaddock

Ginny is the owner of Heartwood Yoga Institute. She is an ERYT-500 Yoga teacher, C-IAYT Yoga therapist, RCYT & Ayurveda Counselor who loves nature, gardening, and creative arts. She has an MFA in creative writing from Lesley University, and a BA in Business Administration from Eckerd College. She teaches writing and is the creator of the memoir writing program, "Yoga on the Page" combining the teaching of yoga to writing personal stories with integrity, intention, and heart.

3 responses »

  1. Vix, great blog. I think you get more out of the yoga classes than your students……you are looking good! Keep it up!


  2. What are you doing up and at work so early? As I recall, you never are on the computer at home, so that means you are at the office at 7:30… or is there a time change…. Hummm….. Anyway, hope your day is starting off right with a big fat donut and coffee. Ah who are we kidding. You’re the guy in perfect 50’s shape now. In fact, you are my inspiration to get my act together this decade.You are still here…. amazing….


  3. The picture of you and the yoga student is amazing. I’d use it in an ad!



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