by Feng Cai

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“Being bold” for me is to bring some perspective and reality to the fitness scene and to be brave enough to admit that life as a fitness instructor is not perfect all the time. Whilst I love teaching yoga and feel very privileged and lucky to be able to do so, I readily admit that balancing my part time yoga teaching with my full time City job is pretty challenging at times.

My alarm goes off at 5.45am on a Monday morning and I groggily roll over hit the snooze button. Teaching yoga is not the most enticing thought right now. Whilst mentally complaining about the fact that I’ve only had about 5 hours of sleep and half wondering what would happen if no one turns up, I scoop up a pile of clothes and rush to get ready before grabbing my keys, throwing on some trainers and running down the road to Fierce Grace, the hot yoga studio where I work.

This is probably not the opening you were expecting. The proliferation of glossy social media posts have created the common belief that all yoga teachers look perfectly poised at every moment and are completely at one with themselves at all times having found their true calling in life. These passing negative moments are often hidden from public eye. I love teaching yoga and feel incredibly grateful that I have been given the opportunity to guide so many people though their practice.

 

 

I wanted to bring the benefits of a regular yoga practise (which I had experienced myself first hand) to others around me. I thought that this was particularly important in a busy city like London. Given that my primary job is a corporate lawyer in the City, I felt that I could really connect and empathise with those students who were desperately trying to balance their work schedules with their health and wellbeing.

When I first started practising yoga, it was the only time when I could properly switch off from my job and the endless “to-do” lists. Following the guidance of the teacher, I started to calm the internal chatter of my mind as I focused on those words and the postures. My body and mind became accustomed to the routine and I started to notice that I was calmer, less stressed out and could sleep better.

But as with any job, there are times when my mind Is not in the right place or I get frustrated with myself because a class has not gone as well as I had hoped. It is at those times I remind myself of my passion for yoga, reach out to my fellow teachers for support and gain motivation from the hard work of my students.

As I meet my regulars at the studio, set up the music and check the heat and humidity, I feel the comfort of the routine and my earlier grumpy thoughts fade away. As I guide the students through the postures, their energy and determination makes teaching a joy. It is always a pleasure to catch up and chat with them afterwards. I admit to them that I really struggled to get up in the morning and that my mind wasn’t quite in the right place to start! I believe it’s important to talk about the challenges and the difficulty in finding balance in our busy lives.

 

 

Right now it’s nearly midnight and I’m writing this in my office and I still have a good few hours to do on my City job, yoga invoices to fill out and birthday presents for friends to buy! “Being bold” is about facing those challenges, being honest enough with yourself to admit when things are getting out of hand and you are struggling to find balance. It is impossible to do everything and to be perfect at doing everything. You have to learn to assess the things you want to do, be realistic about what you can achieve and what is most important to you. I learnt this the hard way as a fledging teacher, trying to balance too many classes with a relentless work schedule. I was exhausted whilst teaching and missing my friends and family.

I admit it’s so hard but I try and practise self-discipline, restricting myself to one or two classes a week so that I can ensure I am committing fully to my legal career and finding time for friends and family. And even then, I try to build in flexibility.

When my corporate law job gets a bit too much, I will take a break from teaching and try not to stress irrationally about losing all my students or falling behind on my teaching journey. When teaching gets a bit too much, I try and find the time to practise so I remember what it feels like to be a student and simply enjoying the feeling of being on my mat under the guiding voice of my teacher.

Knowing that my students understand me on a human level I can approach the challenges that lie ahead. There are huge challenges but also immense rewards.

‘Being bold’ to me is about recognising and accepting your emotions, acknowledging the negative moments in life and not blaming yourself for having those thoughts.

Top five tips:

– Make sure you are enjoying yourself!

– Be realistic about goals and expectations. Think about which are the most important to you and make no excuses prioritising those.

– If you are thinking of training to be a yoga teacher, speak to lots of teachers in the industry and don’t hold back when asking tricky questions!

– You will experience negative moments, maybe not wanting to teach or some challenging classes. Try not to beat yourself up, it’s perfectly normal to have negative thoughts. Recognise them for what they are and focus on moving forward.

– It’s about the finding the right balance for you, not for someone else. Don’t be afraid to take some time for yourself and try not to get too hung up on what everyone else expects from you. Also remember that the right balance changes as you change so be flexible.

 

Follow Feng on IG @detox_and_retox

Check out Fierce Grace Brixton where you can book a class with Feng AND find our super cute, kink free hair ties in their shop!

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