Calling All Bedazzled Ducklings!!

HOW TO SHINE IN A SATURATED MARKET…

In my nearly eight years of teaching Yoga & Meditation in NYC, I’ve been blessed with wonderful students and even more extraordinary assistants. How do I choose my assistants from the crowd of freshly minted Yoga Alliance-card-carrying eager faces? I look for Bedazzled Ducklings!!

A few years ago, I was teaching a lot of donation-based meditation classes around the city to help a very special and underserved population: trauma survivors, both with and without a Post Traumatic Stress diagnosis. A studio owner commented on the endless stream of assistants following me with dogged determination like ducklings from location to location all over the city. “Assistants…or stalkers?” she wanted to know.

She had no idea just how miraculous my Bedazzled Ducklings are: each one an extraordinary, creative, intuitive yoga & meditation teacher in their own right. I’ve never had to formally schedule my assistants. They just keep showing up…literally everywhere I teach! What do they have in common? Humility, creativity, a willingness to learn, punctuality, devotion, dependability, a sense of humor, deep spirituality, and a willingness to truly, fully be their own Bedazzled selves within the warm embrace of Yoga structure. In fact, I’m the lucky one!

I remember volunteering as an assistant at Sonic Yoga under original owner Jonathan Fields, whose ethics and business practices dovetailed nicely with my own. On purpose, I chose a teacher whose circus-like acrobatic asana and courageous spirit were the polar opposite of my own natural tendencies towards restorative yoga and meditation. While assisting Kate Greer, I also had the chance to sit at the feet of Krissy Shields and Jen Whinnen during their first pregnancies. Eyes wide and slack-jawed in amazement, I soaked up their collective knowledge and learned how to truly support women during their first trimester.

Fast forward a few years, and this process has been formalized in Yoga teacher trainings as a Mentorship. March to the beat of your own drum?  Then you just might be one of my Bedazzled Ducklings!! Join me this Fall for two very different and extraordinary Mentorship Programs:

**Meditation Mentorship with Three Sisters Yoga begins October 1, 2016. There are flexible options: class module only, mentorship only, and full 300-hour Yoga Alliance Certification. For more info on my Meditation Mentorship with Three Sisters Yoga: http://www.threesistersyoga.com

**Yoga for Trauma Professional Practicum & Mentorship with Prema Yoga Therapeutics runs October 1-December 31, 2016 with a flexible schedule. Although designed for medical professionals, any students interested in trauma-sensitive yoga training may attend. Medical professionals are eligible for CEUs. For more info on the Yoga for Trauma Practicum with Prema  Yoga Therapeutics:

http://prema-yoga.org/trainings.htm

Yoga and Meditation videos coming soon to my YouTube channel! To subscribe:

https://www.youtube.com/c/amberpaulnyc

Dare to be different - rubber ducks on black

Bedazzled Duckling!!

 

 

 

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My Summer of LOVE

Aha! Looking for some romantic gossip?  The Western, and particularly American, fascination with romantic love has always intrigued me. But more on LOVE later…

Many of you noticed my absence from these pages over the summer and wrote to ask if I was still alive…and teaching. The answer-YES! In fact, I taught 19 classes a week, 7 days a week, for 3 months this past summer. My students are probably wondering why and my fellow instructors are asking, HOW?

The answer to the first question is simple: Check out my earlier blog post: From Type A to Ahhhhhhh. Summer 2010 was an attempt to work my way out of debt, the result of a 2 week break in my health insurance coverage in 2005, during which time I had a car accident (of course). Thank you, karma! I had reached a point last summer where I could no longer cover both my debt payments and my pared down living expenses. The Universe responded to my prayers with a deluge of yoga classes.

As to HOW, the answer is simple: LOVE. Many instructors will insist that it’s impossible to teach that much and give consistently good classes. The work was coming my way, and I had the opportunity to teach since I wasn’t booked for any acting projects over the summer. So, how to teach 5 or 6 classes a day, with some days starting at 9:30AM and ending at 9:30PM?

I used everything YOGA has taught me thus far….and it worked! I started each day with my own meditation practice and the prayer to best serve my students. I considered each class as the only one I was teaching. At the start of each class, I looked at the group of people in front of me and asked how yoga could best serve them as a whole. Even if I was physically tired, the moment I saw all those smiling faces looking up from their mats-my fatigue lifted.

So what is LOVE (yoga don’t hurt me!) ?

We Westerners often think of love as the Hollywood version of romanticized connection- an intimate relationship between two adults. I discovered over the past year that it’s so much deeper than that. Love can be a beautiful connection between two humans-any two humans. It doesn’t have to involve romance and can be as simple as connecting with the light of the soul in another’s eyes.

Unbeknownst to me, my former student (and acting coach extraordinaire) Seth Michael May had nominated me as NYC’s Favorite Yoga Teacher for the 2010 Backstage NYC Readers Choice Awards.  I was humbled to be voted runner-up and the only individual teacher featured in the awards. As a result, my classes were crammed to overflowing-with students from all over the world.

I walked into each class to a babble of languages and a chorus of  “Can we do pigeon?,” “Play the Latin playlist!”, and “We want restorative!” Imagine being greeted so warmly every time you walk into work. I am blessed with amazing, creative, and enthusiastic students in ALL the environments where I teach- from the conference room of the high end fashion house to Broadway Dance Center to the NYC university where I teach yoga in the aptly named Combatants Room.

And my students taught me something about LOVE this summer. We all face deep heartbreak at some point in life, and I learned that LOVE doesn’t have to be confined to a single partner or relationship.

At Sonic Yoga, I learned from assisting Jen Whinnen to give a shoulder adjustment at the start of savasana. As I lean over my students, I learn a lot about them as individuals. I see the talismans they wear around their necks, their piercings and tattoos, and who’s survived a tracheotomy or open heart surgery. On some well-known faces, I see the refinements of the plastic surgeon’s scalpel. As their faces relax into savasana bliss and I press their shoulders to the mat, I think of LOVE passing through my hands. Not romantic love, but an acknowledgement of the humanity that we all share.

Even after my workaholic summer, I still face several years of debt payments. But my students gave me a gift far more valuable-the knowledge that LOVE can come in many forms. In fact, there are limitless forms of pure and peaceful connection.

As I raced up and down Ninth Avenue between classes, I noticed a lot of strangers smiling at me. Oh dear-was my hair standing on end from too many headstands? Had I put my yoga pants on backwards-again? I finally realized that I was radiating unconditional love, and strangers on the street were responding to my unconscious smile. In order to receive such LOVE, I had to be sending it out.

LOVE can be: a friend helping you up the stairs after ankle surgery, a warm smile between friends, the willingness to listen and hold someone’s hand when they’re troubled and struggling, taking a walk together under a deep blue sky. All the simple pleasures that we share as humans, when the connection is soul to soul, positive , and uplifting.

So the next time you see a friend-or stranger-give a little LOVE by smiling at another human being.