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My Big Step

ashtanga change mysore tim miller Apr 24, 2018

This is a blog post about change. In Buddhism, change is pretty much at the core of everything - grappling with change and impermanence is crucial to working toward the alleviation of one’s suffering. Well, after many years, the time has come for me to grow in new ways, and I will be making the big change of moving from DC to Encinitas, CA. 

I’ve spent my entire adult life as a yoga teacher. I’ve created and built a Mysore program I am proud of. I’ve invested in studying and spent hours and days and months traveling to study in India, Boulder, and Encinitas. I’ve woken exhausted, practiced alone in the dark, and learned more from my students than I could ever have taught them. I’ve rejoiced in the breakthroughs of others more, I think, than I have in my own. I’ve strategized and deliberated on how to build community and inspire others. And most importantly, I’ve shown up. Again, and again, and again, In my teaching, in my practice, and in my life. 

These have been privileged opportunities; I’ve been both lucky and blessed. For me, teaching Ashtanga is not just my job - it is a calling. I saw a need here in DC and I was able to fill it. I think we all want our work to matter, and I’m so happy that, for some, mine has.

My path has been influenced by great teachers from the beginning - one in particular. If it weren’t for Tim, I’m certain my life would be much different. And now, I’m feeling a calling to go and practice with him, study with him, and learn from him, so that I can continue to develop as a teacher, practitioner, and human. I’ve decided to take what feels like the right next step for myself - I have the chance now to move across the country to be a part of a community, not the leader of one. And just as important, I’m giving myself the radical opportunity to break free from the old patterns that have brought me pain over the years.

All that said, this sabbatical brings with it a lot of loss - after all, I’m stepping away from something that I love. But underlying my decision is a value that I know anyone who has practiced will understand.

The one thing we know for certain is that everything changes. Even though it is more clear to me than ever that this is the right move, and my heart and my head are in perfect alignment, leaving behind this community that I’ve built, that we’ve built, and that I love will never be easy. It’s here that I have really become a teacher. I’ve learned so much from everyone who has walked through these doors, and it’s through these shared experiences I have grown up and grown into the teacher that I am (and am proud to be). 

I think the greatest contribution a teacher can make is to make other great teachers, and that is what I’m leaving behind. For some time, I may have been the face of the program, but it is so much more than me. Behind me stands an incredible team of teachers who have worked closely with me for years (some for decades). I’m so completely confident in their ability to teach and continue what I started. 

For this practice to work, you must believe that change is possible. And most often, that belief emerges with the help of a group. There is something magical about practicing in a community. The best way to take any practice to another level is by surrounding yourself with people who are already doing it. When you practice with a community, there is a collective voice saying “you can do it!” Belief is essential to the practice, and that grows out of a communal experience.

To be honest, I’m scared about this next move. I don’t know if I would have the nerve to go if it wasn’t for the greatest lesson that this practice has taught me - that anything is possible. It gets said a lot, but I believe this in my bones at this point. Anything. Is. Possible.

Moving to Encinitas has been in the background of my mind for ages, but for so much of that time I was scared to go for it. It seemed so uncertain. But for the past year or so, it’s made its way to the forefront of my mind.

And so for some time now I have been working through layers. I stuck with uncomfortable fact that this needed to happen. I was continually exposed to nasty feelings of failure and fear. I am standing in the ring with them so that real change can happen. 

I’ve been scheming and dreaming about how I can make it all work out, but it still all seemed too overwhelming until I realized I needed to change how I was approaching it.

Eventually, though, I started to look at it like I do when I’m teaching someone a new asana. For me, it wasn’t realistic to take one giant step from DC to Encinitas, but I was able to tackle it when I started breaking it into manageable steps. I taped a picture of an Encinitas sunset to my bathroom mirror and took baby steps toward it every day: Move out of apartment; Move in with a friend temporarily; Tell community; Find new place to live in CA; etc. I wouldn’t expect someone to "just" do karandavasana without breaking it down into feasible steps. Turns out, this applies to life too.

Finally, perhaps most importantly, I decided I would rather experience failure than fear of failure. So I am leaving DC withe the attitude that I might fail. That's a possibility - so what. I'm going to give it my best shot.

But then at the end - it all starts to come together. Fear becomes excitement. Doubt becomes empowerment and confidence.

This practice has developed my confidence in more ways than I can count. It’s taught me that failure is okay. In fact, I should expect to fail until I do, in fact, succeed. And I’ve learned that I can do anything that I put my mind to. So, I don’t have the confidence that a net is going to appear. But I do have belief in my ability to figure it out. And maybe that is my net.

I’m not exactly ready to move but, then again, when I think of all the best things that I’ve done - moving across country (yes, I’ve done this before), getting a puppy, starting a Mysore program, ending a relationship - I wasn’t ready for those either. And somehow they all worked out perfectly. There is a voice shouting to me - the time is now.

I am ready for is this opportunity to step into faith, and to believe in something I can’t see. I don’t know exactly how it’s all going to work out, but that’s the whole point of faith - you don't have to figure out the how - you just have to trust that the universe will meet you.

I might land on my feet, or I might land on my ass, but either way, I’m looking forward to my time in the air.

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About Jen René

Hey there! I'm a dedicated Ashtanga teacher and fourth series practitioner. I'm also a Pilates enthusiast. I taught my first class in 2005. And since then I have learned lots of amazing tricks that can help you on your own yoga journey.


Connect with Me! @jenreneyoga