AKS: What classes are you teaching?
CG: I’m teaching at probably the only place that gives me the flexibility I need, which is LA Fitness. I teach there three times a week and I also pick up some classes to sub.
HJ: How are you liking it?
CG: I like it but gym yoga is really hard to teach because the levels are so varied. You have your first time yogis, and then you have the ones who want to take it to things like side crow…so we play after class to get into different poses if I have time. I always offer “Let’s do some inversions together.” I really enjoy it, but at the beginning of the week, I dread it because I have to get my sequence together. On Mondays, I draw my sequence out and I stick with the same routine for all the classes that week because I feel like I get better and better with each class. It’s like choreography. It’s like dance. You can’t memorize it all. But now that I’ve been teaching for a while, I can kind of just wing it too. And after the hour is over I think “That was so fun. Oh it’s done. That went by so fast!”
I’m enjoying having adult conversations outside of my kids. I do have adult conversations but they’re always centered around our kids in school. With yoga, it’s a different kind of adult conversation. We talk about our ailments, our aches and pains, or how far they’ve come or what they’ve learned. So it’s fun.
AKS: How long have you been teaching now?
CG: Since May. So about seven months. I like the little bit of extra income. It justifies some of my kids’ activities. It’s good to be able to contribute in my own way. Being a mom is a full time job in itself, but it gives me a little bit of my own self-identity—to go out there and be CC the yoga teacher, not CC, Preston Westley, Beckman, or Lulu’s mom, or the wife… I love it.
HJ: While you were in teacher training, did you have specific plans as to what you wanted to do when you graduated?
CG: Yeah I did. I knew exactly why I was taking the training. I knew I was going to go teach at LA Fitness because when I was practicing there as a member, they asked if I was a yoga instructor and I said no and they said “If you get certified, we’ll give you a job. “ That was when the lightbulb went on and I thought, “Why don’t I get certified? I’m doing yoga almost every day. I should get paid to do this.” I had my timeline all planned out because I’m type A. My baby was still really young and I thought it would take me about six months to get certified. I thought I could start teaching and get better and by the time she went to school full time, I could start teaching a few studio classes, but I can’t now because there’s no daycare. That’s the only reason—because LA Fitness has daycare. I go to work and she comes to work with me. It’s the best.
So I knew exactly what I wanted to do and I came out of training and executed that plan.
HJ: How did you feel about the sisterhood and the bonds in our training?
CG: I miss everyone. I wish we got together more. Sadly, everyone’s so darn busy. I don’t even have time to hang out with people who live one mile from me. And I also work part time so my mind is constantly so busy and I take on too much. I’m one of those people who can’t say no sometimes. But I went through some bad health issues this year and it made me realize that I need to take some things off my plate and focus on what’s really important. And not get stressed as easily. The thing with type A people is we’re so organized and we think we can always do it all, and we can, but we do it at the expense of our own health.
HJ: Do you get to practice yoga on your own?
CG: Yes I do. Actually, every day. Even if I have just 10 or 15 minutes, I get in my down dog. The kids might try to do a handstand. They play basketball so I try to stretch them out because it prevents injury. And I get to use the gym for free so on days I don’t teach, so I take yoga at the gym.
HJ: Do you have any tips for how to keep up your own practice once you start teaching?
CG: You just have to get there. Just get those toes on your mat. It becomes an addiction. If I don’t go, I know for that whole day I’m in disarray. Maybe I’m a bitch. I don’t know. When you’re teaching, it’s different –you’re telling everyone else to relax, breathe in and breathe out, but you’re the one talking and watching everyone else. But when you’re practicing and they tell you to inhale/exhale, it’s just so meditative. I know I have to go practice. I know I have to get my yoga in.
AKS: With all the responsibilities that you juggle, do you feel like three classes (per week) is the right amount or would you ever want to teach more classes?
CG: I think three is good. I’m ok even with two. For me it’s just a side thing, something fun. I go out there, do my thing, teach it, continue to practice, and I have a lot of other stuff going on too.
AKS: Are you interested in teaching any other styles of classes besides Vinyasa or is that what you enjoy the most?
CG: I enjoy Vinyasa the most, but I kind of incorporate a little Hatha, where we hold our poses a little longer. I like to get them started really slow on the first sequence, then the second time we concentrate on the breathing, and the third one we dance—one breath, one movement—and that’s when we start to sweat. But they know where they’re going by that point because we’ve walked through it slower the first couple times. One time I did the exercise where we’re on our backs in happy baby and we just throw a tantrum! And I had to feel the energy of the class first, but when I took it and ran with it, everyone came to me afterwards saying “Oh my gosh, I don’t even know what that was. I don’t know if it was yoga, but it was amazing!”
HJ: What was the most memorable topic in the teacher training for you?
CC: For me personally, it was the philosophical part. I had the physical practice. I’m no Keno, but I think I have a pretty good practice. I’ve been working on things…but it’s grounding, finding your center, all that stuff. When you’re doing gym yoga they don’t really emphasize that, but I like to bring that into the class and I like to look for inspirational quotes and incorporate that so they can take something, not just the physical practice, but something to dwell upon after their practice. That’s what I really took away from the training. But other little things too, like all the pranayama exercises we learned. I’ll have them do the skull shining breath or ujjayi breath or alternate nostril breath.
Some people who come to my class probably just think “She’s crazy. I’m not going to get into that pose, or shake and cry” or “What is this breathing thing? I’ll just breathe out of my mouth. I’ll breathe however I want to.”
I always say gym yoga is totally different and you should give studio yoga a try.
HJ: But you can bring studio yoga to the gym.
CG: Yes, and I do. I bring my singing bowl to class. I bring my own Bluetooth speaker. I bring my essential oils. My students are like friends. I’ll make yoga mat cleaners and say “Next week bring a towel. The same place where you put your face is where you put your feet a lot of times so let’s me diligent about cleaning our mats.” So they all bring their towels and they come over and use my spray and they wipe down their mats so it becomes like a little community. I really enjoy it. I’m so glad I went through the whole training so I have this for myself.
AKS: Do you have any favorite yoga books or resources?
CG: I do! Yoga Sequencing (by Mark Stephens). I like this because it asks you “What do you want to work on—intermediate or beginner sequence?” And then they kind of guide you through the sequence that you can do. I don’t necessarily follow what they have but it gives me some ideas like “Oh I can get from here to there,” and it talks about alignment and I can steal a few little verbal cues like “Draw your navel into your spine.”
HJ: Do you have any advice for brand new teachers who just finished training or people who are considering taking the training?
CG: I think your first few jobs are really intimidating. You walk in there and you’re so nervous. Everyone is staring you down, but your students are also scared because you’re new to them too. They’re also scared that they may not be able to do what you’re asking them to do but if you can see it from their point of view, then it might relax you a little bit. Don’t always think they’re judging you, that you’re not going to live up to their expectations. Because maybe they’re thinking “Shoot, this is a new teacher. I don’t know if I can keep up with her,” or “How is she going to challenge or not challenge me?” Just relax the first couple classes. It’s easier said than done.
As far as going into the program, if you feel like this is something you want, regardless of if you want to teach or make extra income on the side, if you know it’s something you want to do, just do it because nothing bad is going to come out of it. It will be such a great experience. It was very trying as far as the time commitment, but if you think about it in the greater scope of things, it was only a drop in the bucket and it changes your life. And it’s not like you’re being tortured. You’re having fun! It’s some time away from your daily grind.
AKS: Any final thoughts?
CG: I always tell my students “We all have the same destination but we all take a different journey there. It’s your practice. If you’re going to do level 1, level 2, level 3, it doesn’t matter. Our final destination is just doing yoga.
We Cloud Niners like to say our style of yoga is the fun kind! Sounds like you’re upholding that reputation, CC!