The Yogi's Agreement

I HEARBY AGREE FROM THIS DAY FORWARD, to participate fully in my whole life. A requisite for showing up in such a way will require I take my Yoga practice on and off my mat. Therefore, I agree to be Yoga. This agreement fully binds me to earth for the duration of my stay, and beyond.

AS A YOGI, I AGREE TO BE AN ACTIVE LISTENER; as I am able to hear the voice of both my body and my Yoga teacher, I acknowledge they will sometimes send conflicting cues, and it will be up to me to decide which one feels and sounds right for my practice. Further, I understand I am allowed to ask questions and acquire suggestions and new information from my instructor, taking only what works for me, and leaving the rest.

I AGREE TO EXPERIENCE UNCERTAINTY AND DISAPPOINTMENT as a Yogi. My physical practice, my body and my life will change with the passage of time. I may become more or less mobile at times, I may be injured and need to modify my practice. Therefore, since my body is inexact and sensitive, I agree to cater to its unwavering desire to heal me and make me strong.

AS A YOGI, I MAY NEED A BREAK from the physical practice of Yoga. Sometimes I'll be away from my mat for a few days and those days may turn into weeks, into months, perhaps years. While this may be considered unproductive or detrimental to my health, I know, at its deepest level, Yoga honors my need to pause, however long I see fit.

IF I AM A WOMAN, I understand that my body and my soul are inherently connected to the energy around, above and below me. I acknowledge I have a special relationship with the moon. Therefore my mental, emotional, spiritual and physical practice will change from day to day. When I am on my cycle, I understand I may not be able to balance on one foot, or even balance one task. I also know it may not be best to take inversions, so as to allow gravity to pull energy where it needs to go.

IF I AM A YOGA TEACHER, I know about body language. I acknowledge that although I am doing the talking, my students are communicating back to me with their body. I can see their story. I will listen and respond to these stories with great curiosity and respect. As a Yoga Teacher, I understand music selection, sequence and theme are not the only reflections of who I am as a Yoga Teacher; these are only small components of what makes a Yoga experience. I recognize that should these class elements disappear, I am still able to teach, as Yoga is about union-- to unite with other people, through my voice and my spirit.

IF I AM A MAN, I recognize Yoga as a way to complement and enhance my masculinity. I understand that my practice, on many levels, sets an important example for generations to come. Further, when I show up to my mat, I see myself as a better person, a more present partner, a kinder friend, a more effective communicator. I understand the importance of making my presence known and my intentions clear, both on and off my mat. As a Yogi, I believe in the covenant of comradeship; so not only do I practice for myself, I humbly and proudly practice on behalf of my brothers, young and old.

AS A YOGI, I PRACTICE THE PRINCIPLES OF HEALTHY ATTACHMENT; I know what I need, I know how to ask for it and most importantly, I know how to receive it when it's given to me. If I enjoy human touch, I am allowed to ask my teacher to adjust, assist or massage me in class. I understand my request may not always be granted, but Yoga assures me of the power of asking for what I need.

EACH TIME I BRING MY PRACTICE ON AND OFF MY MAT, I am promising somewhere deep inside I will participate as my whole self. I am promising to build relationships rooted in kindness for myself and the world around me. I am acknowledging I am not perfect and neither is anyone else. I am willing to see the world in different ways. AND MOST IMPORTANTLY...I know what it means not only to do Yoga, but to be Yoga.

Grace, Peace and Rancid Yoga Pants,

Erica

I am not your fat yoga teacher

I'm not your fat yoga teacher
I'm not your curvy
plus size
body-positive
Instagram-envelope-pushing
guru.
I don't want to be
your daughter's
niece's
sister's
or
your
role model.
I am not your fat yoga teacher
no matter how much better
you feel on your mat
because of my size.
We're not playing that game.
I'm not playing this game.
The game where
you look at me
and you think,
I'll give her a complement
I'll tell her how much better I feel
on my mat
because she's not
like
your typical "anorexic" yoga teacher.
That is NOT a complement.
That is NOT love.
That is NOT yoga.
Suppose
my body changes
like all bodies do
and suddenly I no longer
look the way you need me to look
in order to feel like you belong
on your mat.
You're playing with fire.
You're only hurting yourself.
See
this is the damage we cause
ourselves
each other
ourselves
each other
me
you
me.
I am not
your fat yoga teacher.
I am
Erica Jacobs.

Teaching Yoga After the Orlando Shooting

A letter to my students...     

"...exhale, Savasana.

       Relax your toes and your hips and your fingertips. Loosen your knees and ease your lower back. Calm your shoulders and slow your breath. Soften the skin on your face and lighten the thoughts in your head. Relax your whole body... Quiet your whole mind... Open your whole heart... Rest, here. Rest..."

Sweet Yogi,

While you lay in your Savasana, there are some things I'd like you to know...

When I became a Yoga teacher, I knew I'd have to adhere to particular boundaries; don't cuss, don't talk about God or the bible or conspiracy theories --basically, separate Church & Child's Pose. Don't talk about money or politics or sex or drugs or rock & roll- actually, rock & roll is okay in small doses (and, well, sometimes so are drugs. Never mind.) Easy enough. 

But then, you know, a mass shooting happens and innocent people die while celebrating their life. And things don't make any sense or resemble anything close to the Yoga I've come to know, value and understand. This week, in the wake of the Orlando tragedy, I was met with a hard question; What is my role, here, when bad things happen? Do I talk about the thing? Do I mention it? Theme my class around it? Certainly, and thankfully, I'm no cocky-cooky-ultra-almighty-patronizing-invincible-omniponent-supreme-spiritual Guru, but do I have a right and enough street cred to address the thing and, maybe, MAYBE, help ease your feelings about it for an hour?

Yes. I do. And I'll do it now...

       My trembling finger hovers over the 'play' button on my iPod. I press down. "Same Love", the instrumental version. The music draws over you like a weighted blanket and I can already sense the tension in your throat. I don't know if I want to massage you or lay down with you and fall to pieces in the presence of your yogic bliss. I imagine that would be quite creepy.

I'm about to take my usual stance at the top of your head and massage your temples and third eye and whatnot. But something, no, God, God tells me I need to look at you square while I touch you. My feet redirect and quietly straddle your torso, as I rub my Lavender-soaked hands together to let you know I'm here. I dance my hands over your nose. "Inhale", I say. You inhale, taking in the smell. "Exhale". I press down on your shoulders as you do and I, I see you in a way I haven't before. You're so beautiful. You're...love.. Words, thoughts, feelings suddenly race from my head, flood my arms and are now seeping through my fingertips, into your pores...

My fingers through your wild, sweaty hair; You are not alone.

Your face in my hands, You are safe, here.

My thumbs on your temples, I hear you.

My hands cradling your face, I see you.

My left hand over your heart, I take a stand for you.

My right hand rests atop my left, I love you.

I'm clear, now, sweet Yogi. I know my role, here; My role is to love you, to be equal to you, to see you, hear you. My role is to hold both of us to a standard of grace. My role is to walk you home when the world outside your mat is dark. My role is not to be the light, but help you find and illuminate your own. I can do these things with my voice, my hands, my body language.

No, I don't have to talk about the thing. I don't need to mention the horrific shooting during our practice. No elaborate theme needed, here. No performance. No GuruSpeak. Just simple, subtle reminders, details here and there, that your Yoga mat is a safe place to land. That there is a lot of good in the world. That YOU are the good in the world. That I am your safe place. That you are mine.

Namaste.

Artist: Colette Miller

Artist: Colette Miller

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Yogi's Agreement

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IMG_2442

I HEARBY AGREE FROM THIS DAY FORWARD, to participate fully in my whole life. A requisite for showing up in such a way will require I take my Yoga practice on and off my mat. Therefore, I agree to be Yoga. This agreement fully binds me to earth for the duration of my stay, and beyond.

AS A YOGI, I AGREE TO BE AN ACTIVE LISTENER; as I am able to hear the voice of both my body and my Yoga teacher, I acknowledge they will sometimes send conflicting cues, and it will be up to me to decide which one feels and sounds right for my practice. Further, I understand I am allowed to ask questions and acquire suggestions and new information from my instructor, taking only what works for me, and leaving the rest.

I AGREE TO EXPERIENCE UNCERTAINTY AND DISAPPOINTMENT as a Yogi. My physical practice, my body and my life will change with the passage of time. I may become more or less mobile at times, I may be injured and need to modify my practice. Therefore, since my body is inexact and sensitive, I agree to cater to its unwavering desire to heal me and make me strong.

AS A YOGI, I MAY NEED A BREAK from the physical practice of Yoga. Sometimes I'll be away from my mat for a few days and those days may turn into weeks, into months, perhaps years. While this may be considered unproductive or detrimental to my health, I know, at its deepest level, Yoga honors my need to pause, however long I see fit.

IF I AM A WOMAN, I understand that my body and my soul are inherently connected to the energy around, above and below me. I acknowledge I have a special relationship with the moon. Therefore my mental, emotional, spiritual and physical practice will change from day to day. When I am on my cycle, I understand I may not be able to balance on one foot, or even balance one task. I also know it may not be best to take inversions, so as to allow gravity to pull energy where it needs to go.

IF I AM A YOGA TEACHER, I know about body language. I acknowledge that although I am doing the talking, my students are communicating back to me with their body. I can see their story. I will listen and respond to these stories with great curiosity and respect. As a Yoga Teacher, I understand music selection, sequence and theme are not the only reflections of who I am as a Yoga Teacher; these are only small components of what makes a Yoga experience. I recognize that should these class elements disappear, I am still able to teach, as Yoga is about union-- to unite with other people, through my voice and my spirit.

IF I AM A MAN, I recognize Yoga as a way to complement and enhance my masculinity. I understand that my practice, on many levels, sets an important example for generations to come. Further, when I show up to my mat, I see myself as a better person, a more present partner, a kinder friend, a more effective communicator. I understand the importance of making my presence known and my intentions clear, both on and off my mat. As a Yogi, I believe in the covenant of comradeship; so not only do I practice for myself, I humbly and proudly practice on behalf of my brothers, young and old.

AS A YOGI, I PRACTICE THE PRINCIPLES OF HEALTHY ATTACHMENT; I know what I need, I know how to ask for it and most importantly, I know how to receive it when it's given to me. If I enjoy human touch, I am allowed to ask my teacher to adjust, assist or massage me in class. I understand my request may not always be granted, but Yoga assures me of the power of asking for what I need.

EACH TIME I BRING MY PRACTICE ON AND OFF MY MAT, I am promising somewhere deep inside I will participate as my whole self. I am promising to build relationships rooted in kindness for myself and the world around me. I am acknowledging I am not perfect and neither is anyone else. I am willing to see the world in different ways. AND MOST IMPORTANTLY...I know what it means not only to do Yoga, but to be Yoga.

Grace and Peace and Balls and Namaste,

Erica

 

*This piece was inspired by The Eater's Agreement by, Marc David; Founder of The Institute for the Psychology of Eating

Do Over!

do-over-copyright-christine-sternfels

"I could think of things I never thought before. And then I'd sit..and think some more." -a brainless scarecrow

Lately, all I've wanted to do is get high and watch The Wizard of Oz, synced up to Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" album. First of all, I haven't smoked anything in years and second of all, the Pink Floyd thing DOES work and it's pretty cool, just FYI.

I just want to stop (over)thinking for a while, which is a lot to ask for, since I haven't been able to do this...ever. The wheels are constantly turning, from the moment I wake up in the morning; over-thinking, analyzing, worrying, wondering, imagining, comparing, compartmentalizing...it never stops. I could be in a crowded, dusty, dirty, questionable circus tent, distracted by the most elaborate elephants, lions and ringmaster. There could be popcorn flying, unicycles about to run me over, the Bearded Lady, Siamese twins, the Elephant Man, jugglers, fire blowers, knife swallowers, baton twirlers and tightrope walkers all up in my face and I'd STILL be worrying about my future...and theirs, for that matter. #exhausting.

I started this blog sixteen months ago, with the goal of "helping people", whatever that meant to me at the time. Also, I hadn't written anything in years and I wanted to test, find and claim my voice. But claim my voice as what? As a niche expert? Journal keeper? "Coach"? Article writer? Professional blogger? Recipe and home decor guru? I mean, for the love of God...

WHO IS ERICA JACOBS? AND WHAT'S EATING HER??

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Each time I come to my keyboard, I make  it a point to be truthful and humble, and some posts are indeed more "raw" than others. A couple of weeks ago, however, one of my best friends recently told me I'm not being as honest as I could be and should be. She told me I'm holding back. (She's only known me for twenty-one years; what does SHE know?! The nerve.) In any case, yes, in favor of preserving the integrity of the writer (me), which ultimately benefits the reader (you), there are some things I want to clarify about a recent post in particular, so that we may move forward with a clear representation of how sh*t really goes down in my book...which I have yet to write. It's not a real book. Nevermind.

* * *

I recently published a post about my job as Director of a Children's Fitness Center suddenly coming to an end, because the gym itself was closing. I poured my heart out, as usual, expressing my deep love for the families I'd come to know and build rapport with. I wrote about how hard saying good-bye to Circle Time is and the immense gratitude I have for the work I've done and how sad I was to say goodbye. I was so proud of that post; in fact, it is my second most popular post since I've started blogging, so obviously, it was one of your favorites, too.

The day after I published it, my BFF called me on the telephone...my land line, actually. (Get this, the phone is attached to a receiver and plugged into the wall. Like, I can't leave my house with it. And it doesn't text. All I can do is sit on my couch and JUST converse with the person on the other end. It's bananas!)

ANYWAY, what could have been a quick conversation about how touching and heartfelt my writing is and how talented I am, turned into a two and a half hour assessment of why I lied to my readers myself and didn't own my whole truth in that post. She asked me why I didn't mention that I had already quit and that my last day was going to be June 1st. Why I didn't say I was already set to leave that part of my journey behind before I found out the business had descended into a hellish pit of embarrassment and finally crashed and burned into a flaming ball of shit, no matter how hard I'd tried  was closing. Why I left out the part about me being tired of working 40+ hours a week building someone else's dream, and having the courage to finally build mine. In short, she wondered why I didn't mention that I was going to start my own business.

I am starting my own business. I feel a giggle and an eye-roll come on when I say it, mostly because I'm so unsure of what this business looks like. Truthfully, I'd rather have a full-body, blistering chemical peel than write a business plan. I mean, how can I take my forty-seven passions, talents, education degrees/certificates and somehow contain them, package them into ONE name, ONE explanation, ONE title and ONE source of income?! And furthermore, is there even room for me and all these passions and talents? Do people want what I have to offer? Do they want to hear what I have to say? Am I just going to be another in-your-face-noise-maker in the crowded, disorganized circus of blogs, UpWorthy videos, Facebook updates, Instagram-ready lifestyles and "coaching" services? How do I find the balance between making myself seen and heard while "holding the space" (I hate that saying) for my readers, clients and students to feel seen and heard? And so on, and so on, and so on...

So, this is my day-to-day, minute-to-minute thought process. Ironically, as I talk more and more about to friends, Yoga teachers, and my Evolutionary Astrologist, I feel myself laying down more and more of the groundwork for what I'm ultimately called to do; I am called to educate. I am a teacher and a nurturer and I always have been. Whether it's through Kickboxing, Yoga, working with children, Essential Oils, Intuitive Eating or Eating Psychology Counseling, I consciously teach, I fearlessly listen and I genuinely care about my community.

Perhaps this isn't so much the do-over of a previous post, but an intro into what's really going on in my life TODAY, and what these past few weeks of self-emplyment have felt like for me. I've recently learned the word vocation and career mean totally different things and I'm excited to share that with you. Maybe it's in yours and my best interest to write how it feels to be "self-employed", while not yet collecting a paycheck. Maybe it's time I take a break from writing about my past (as I do in MANY posts) and fearlessly write about what's really uncomfortable for me, what's really eating Erica Jacobs...my present. Because really, the world needs more truth-tellers and less noise-makers.

I may have forty-seven passions and it may be easy for me to be pulled in different directions because on some level, I'm afraid if I commit to ONE thing, the other forty-six things will disappear and I'll become lost. (I'm working on it.)

But any way I slice it, any direction I'm headed, I know I'm here to make a difference...forty-seven times over.

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