The Start of a New Thing: Blogging Through 6 Months of Yoga Teacher Training

I haven’t written in SO long. Sorry, friends. This semester was hard. SO hard. Emotionally, physically, mentally. God is doing a work in my life and that anvil ain’t a comfortable place to hang out for long. I’m so glad He’s good and I can trust Him. 

Here’s what’s new:

I am completely stoked to be (finally) on the path to more education AND a new career that will totally compliment the one I have now. I cannot see myself teaching music at this volume for many years- it is simply too taxing and overwhelming to manage so many different studios in so many locations. I absolutely adore my students. Adore them. But with the body God gave me and my other desires, which include having a family someday and staying home with my own kiddos when the time comes, I have to think creatively about how to continue to help with our income. 

So, starting on Friday the 10th, the weekend that I turn 25, I am beginning yoga teacher training and I am completely, out-of-my-mind excited. And really, really nervous too. Like, really, really. I’m training in hatha yoga and will be studying the Yoga Sutra and other yogic texts. I’ll be learning enough Sanskrit to be fluent in yoga-speak and the anatomy will probably be pretty intense too. The biggest thing is the whole keeping Jesus at the Center deal. Because, to know yoga the way I want to, I’ve got to know where it came from and it was born out of some really intense religious philosophies. Now, I’m no stranger to studying super secular stuff and reclaiming it for Jesus. I mean, come on, some of that classical music is crazy pagan. But, learning another religion intensely does make me nervous… not that I’ll lose my own faith, heck no. Just that I won’t have the strength or courage to be a true, obvious Christ Follower in this environment. Friends, please pray that God will grow my courage and give me the bravery to be His in a dark place! 

What’s really hard for me is that yogis are SO accepting… they are SO kind and SO not judgmental… I mean, they practice such kindness. I just love them. But, I understand why they might get frustrated that I am not “tolerant” of others’ beliefs. (I HATE THE WORD “TOLERANT,” BTW. My students are taught in school that “tolerance” is a character trait. Ha. It’s just a nice word for being a total pansy. I don’t want to just “tolerate” people. I want to LOVE them. Tolerance is a total pansy cop-out. Forget tolerance. How about LOVE? Tolerating something is so much easier than loving someone. Seriously. End Rant.) 

Anyway, I’m nervous about standing out and being firmly rooted in Jesus. Root down in Jesus to rise up in faith. That’s easy among Christians. But among those who practice other beliefs, it makes me feel like an intolerant jerk. (I. hate. that. word.) 

My other fear is that my body will put up a fight. My joints get SO sore when I go too far and too far is pretty easy for me to achieve without realizing it. So, prayers for my wisdom, patience, and to lay down my competitive spirit would be greatly appreciated. 

I’m sitting in a M.E.S.S. right now and need to go do a crazy-butt-load of dishes, clean the refrigerator, sort the laundry, vacuum and clean the carpet, sweep and mop floors… And, I’m writing instead. Here’s the deal: FREEDOM is my word for 2014. Jesus is speaking freedom into my life in every place. Especially the deepest down, scary ones. On the surface, I’m making decisions that display freedom to my own heart and mind, such as finally writing again rather than doing the dishes, which will be there after this post is published. Yesterday, I slept in AND took a nap. Because I go back to work next week and I start teacher training and my body needs me to let it rest when it asks. And, I am free to take a nap because Jesus is my provider and He wants me to enjoy His rest. What a load off, man. For this girl who fights her body every day and refuses to accept its limitations, this is a major big thing. 

Ty joined my gym and we’ve been working out together and it is way fun. Freedom to hang out with husband. Freedom to smile. Freedom to not feel so ridiculous guilty all the time. 

Here’s one: Freedom to admit that I am a sinner. To stop fighting it and accept my Savior and to just admit that I need to be saved by someone who’s qualified to do the saving (read: not me). 

Freedom to live unashamedly in a community. We joined our church as partners this week and I am telling you, I’m terrified. Community means I can’t hide out anymore. These people won’t let me. Light is being shined on my darkest places and I am really uncomfortable about that.

How about this? Freedom to take a clarinet lesson. I did it. I had my first lesson since graduating from Eastman. I have no muscles and can barely play, but my incredible teacher and friend told me to play with no fear of judgement and she told me to be free. She actually told me to release my sound from one note to the next and let it be free. Those words. I told her that I am afraid. I am afraid of what will come out of my instrument. I’m so afraid of every note. She told me, “freedom.” Stop grasping and squeezing and gasping and controlling. Release. Freedom. 

I can’t believe how afraid I am to play my instrument. I can’t believe this fear has squeezed my heart so tight. And I am SO humbled that God is so actively saving me from my fear. He provides people who speak life and tell me my feelings are not shameful and that I CAN be courageous. 

I can be brave. I can be free. 

I’m going to blog through my teacher training experience, so stay tuned!

Love,

Katie 

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Fibromyalgia brain!!!!!!! Every now and then, I’m not just dealing with pain. Sometimes, my brain just stops working- like there is a cloud in my brain. I can’t talk or breathe right and noise (Oy! I’m a music teacher!) makes me crazy. Yoga says breathe and body says can’t. I can’t demonstrate properly on the clarinet and I have to apologize to my kiddos for being cranky. It makes me think I don’t like teaching. I’m writing this here with you as my witness. The TRUTH is that I love teaching, I am human and humans get cranky. 

Deepest Teacher Fear #1: I will take out my own discomfort and pain on a student the way my teacher took out his suffering on me. 

I try to stay honest with my kids, but even an apology can’t completely undo a harsh word. Kids with anxiety troubles and emotional struggles and ADD and ADHD and everything else are already challenging to teach with kindness and patience all the time because the job is demanding and we are on a deadline. Oh, but I try! Then you add in the fact that on some days breathing hurts, sitting in a chair hurts, my throat muscles spasm and I can’t talk without pain, I try to play my clarinet and my numb fingers won’t move. Then I get so overwhelmed, so absorbed in just surviving the day. I get cranky and usually with the kids who need unconditional love the absolute most. 

My mom used to pray that God would be my mom where she failed. I pray the same as a teacher. Lord, be my students’ teacher where I fail and cover up my failings with your grace. 

Blog friends, pray that I will have strength to love deeply and teach with a full heart this year even when it hurts to breathe. 

I need prayer and I need forgiveness and I need a team backing me. This is truth.

Today was rough and breathing hurts. 

To yoga and to bed. 

Love,

Katie 

I wasn’t going to post this blog on Facebook quite yet, but I decided I would quite enjoy having some readers! So, thanks for reading! 

Today I did my very first real forearm stand at the wall!!! I wasn’t totally comfortable with my head position and I definitely feel some pain sensations in my cervical vertebrae, but HECK! I DID IT. It was so fun to feel so strong. I also have made a lot of progress with my upward facing dog and am feeling my lumbar spine start to bend more freely. I love this so much. I feel so weak so often and betrayed by my body. I have never thought of myself as “weak” but find myself feeling that this label is totally inevitable. Today, my body was really strong for about 40 minutes and the label was defied. Today was a victorious day! 

Ever since the last day I practiced clarinet the way I determined to spend my whole life practicing- the day I remember so well -I have struggled with the belief that others view me and label me as weak and lazy. I believe that in some cases this is warranted, but I also believe that, more often than not, I am simply projecting my fears on others and essentially accusing them of judging me in a manner that they are not. I am so thankful the Lord is actively freeing me from this perception of others as harsh and unable to understand or believe in my physical limitations. My greatest fear has always been that people will not love and accept me. This is so unfounded and such a silly lie from Satan. Though people may not accept me, Jesus has already claimed me as his own and in this I am free to be who he made me to be. Successful in the eyes of the world or not, I am Katie Whaley and I have an autoimmune disease and I am a clarinetist and I am a teacher and I love, love, love yoga and I am a wife and I am an organic-eating, tree-hugging hippy and I love tattoos. Also, I really like who God made me to be. 

I was so angry that I developed this disability or disease or whatever it is. (FYI some doctors have said fibromyalgia, but even if that is the case, I am not going about the treatment of the pain in any normal manner. I’m alllll about the holistic approach and I am a firm believer in simply using wisdom to approach the management of my pain and the total reliance on a God who knows my suffering to carry me through every day of my life.) I am SO not angry anymore. Gosh, I’m so thankful Jesus freed me from this. Now, I totally still get frustrated and cranky and overwhelmed and I take it out on my poor, sweet husband. But, ultimately I know I have finally been able to really and truly rest the state of my physical body in the hands of the Lord. 

Wellllll, maybe. I guess I need to be honest and speak some heart-revealing truth here. I haven’t totally trusted God. I still trust me. I trust that if I eat healthy and do yoga I can control my pain. To some extent, this is just simple wisdom speaking and, to some extent, it is self-reliant pride. Jesus can handle it. I really love healthy food and yoga, so I’m just going to keep it up and try really hard not to boast. I’m seriously, genuinely sorry, y’all, for when I go on and on about health related topics in a know-it-all manner. I like to say it is because I am passionate, but really I think it is because I am prideful. I’m sorry. 

So, anyway, I have found that yoga is totally a means of self-expression for me and that my artistic heart is fulfilled on my mat. Yoga is so beautiful and I am so grateful for the deep truths I have learned from yoga teachers and yoga practicers and from my own practice. Here’s a list. I think it’s cool, so hang in there with me. 

1. Practice is great but sometimes you have to just play (I have totally applied this to music!! Same super concept.)

2. Sometimes it looks really funny when I play around with a new pose. Laughing at myself is healing. 

3. Tuning into my body has shown me how to tune into my heart. 

4. I can feel my spine. I can FEEL my spine! 

5. The muscles I use for downward facing dog are the exact muscles I use to support my clarinet tone. 

6. Watching a room full of clarinet students do downward facing dog for the first time is seriously entertaining. 

7. Parallel learning is the bomb.com. 

8. There is a good kind of sore and a bad kind of sore. Any risk of the bad kind of sore should be avoided even at the cost of the good kind of sore. (Basically, re-injury is bad and I can avoid it be paying really close attention to the sensations in my body.)

9. Competition is good- but only to a small extent. Teamwork is always the best way to learn. 

10. Grace. 

If you’ve never practiced *ahem* played around with yoga, please try it. It is so much fun and can potentially change your life. 

More important than yoga, if you have never met Jesus and you want to, let me know. He will most assuredly change your life. 

Hey hey! Leave a comment for me! 

Love,

Katie 

Hey Internet Friends,

I love being a music teacher- it is such a fun job. I get to enjoy all of these cool kids and watch them learn and grow and develop. They are so great. One of my favorite things about my job is that I get to consistently learn right along with my kiddos. I have been able to discover so many things about how to play the clarinet just by having to explain what to do to make a sound to a bunch of students. At Eastman, I had to rush to learn things- it was always a hurry. Every week there were new etudes and excerpts and pieces of literature on which I was expected to make extreme progress. And I did make this progress and it was fantastic. But it was always such a rush from week to week. Sometimes I could really really really tell my teacher was really really really frustrated with me when I couldn’t just “get it” right there and then in my lesson. He has this habit of getting really really really loud in those situations. He really meant it! But he didn’t always say things clearly. He wouldn’t often attempt to say things in different words to try to help me understand the concept. This, I have found, is just so important for a teacher. 

When I find myself getting frustrated with a kid, I am oh so not perfect. Sometimes I also get louder and louder and louder until I start to see a look of “oh no, aghhh!” on the kid’s face. That’s a definite clue to chill. However, as I mature as a teacher, I am really attempting to chill before I see that look appear. This is the trick: find NEW words. Don’t just say the same thing. Most of the time, the student just needs to be communicated with in a different way. It takes patience. Oh my word, am I learning patience. 65 times a week, I am in my student’s clarinet lesson and my patience lesson simultaneously. And, the kicker? I’m also learning to play the clarinet more proficiently myself because sometimes my brain also needs to be communicated with differently and I actually teach myself when I change my words. It’s oh so cool. 

What have I learned from my students?

-How to voice my altissimo register

-That it is more than ok to cry

-That sharing music is the biggest blessing and playing duets with a 12-year-old is seriously fun

-That teachers are not always right

-Forgiveness is really important

-Sometimes, music isn’t the point of a 25 minute period of time because sometimes, just being human together can teach us both more about music and life than actually playing music ever could

-Imperfection is so beautiful so often

-Perfection is overrated (!!!) 

-Metronomes are really really really important

-Kids are totally full of wisdom

-Guarding my tongue vigilantly is absolutely a requirement of life 

-Being a mom is going to be really hard

-Trust God with the lives and development of the people He brings into my life and always be willing to share His grace with them

-My dream job is worth making a little less money than I would like

-Music is the best (Well, I already knew that.)

Love,

Katie