Lain Mackenzie: Teacher

One of my last assignments for my yoga teacher training is to talk a little about myself. A personal introduction to my future students. Before sitting down to write it, this felt a little strange to me, almost too self-centered and it made me uncomfortable. Once I sat with it a little longer, I realized that I need my students to know my journey and how I might best help them in theirs. I needed to give them my tattered road map so they could learn from my own experience getting to a place of peace and oneness with life. I feel like I am now brimming over with ideas and experiences that I wish to share with whomever needs it.

I have always felt like I needed to be of service. Even as a young girl in the church and girl scouts, I really loved working for the community and feeling like I was doing something for the benefit of others. It made me feel good. Even working in management in my adulthood, I tried to help my employees in whatever way I could, be it more training to get them promoted or to be a shoulder to cry on when life kicked them down. I tried to stay available to them and be a source of comfort. Sometimes that was my downfall, when I cared so much and it was still ‘just business’ to some.

The stress of corporate life had swallowed me up for ten plus years and I had always wished I could try something new. I found yoga when I most needed it. I started to go regularly to my local studio within walking distance and it felt so good and right! But life kept going and I fell off every couple months, citing my 50+ hour work week as the problem. The real problem was I wasn’t ready to go all in with my practice. I still held my self loathing above my self worth.

Growing up, I had found it difficult to open myself up. I suffered from a deep depression in high school, being scared of who I really was. In constant fear that my loved ones would stop caring about me if they knew the truth. The realization that I was gay was a hard one for me, knowing that it would make my life harder to navigate coming from a very religious background. It solidified my teenage brain into a cycle of depression, self hatred and secrecy. It took a long time to feel okay in my own skin. I had never loved myself, and my yoga practice forced me to begin knocking the walls down and look deeper.

One day when I was really unhappy at work, I started taking some college classes for a future that I wanted to move toward, going into Hospitality Management. I only got through two semesters before I felt pulled toward another certification, my yoga teacher training. I had wanted to start my own business where I would teach yoga, run retreats and serve my community with a place to gather. I was going to wait to do my yoga training after my degree was completed, but one day I found an online training called ‘Yoga 4 Love” and pulled out my credit card immediately without hesitation.

There was no question I needed to do something. To shift my life toward another purpose. I felt it in my bones. Within two months of starting my training online, I quit my job and decided that I was not okay allowing stress to dictate my well-being anymore. It was a very emotional decision, losing the image of myself that I held so tightly for so long, but I knew that I could no longer put myself through emotional torture for a fat paycheck. I’m lucky to have a partner that really understood my suffering and gave me the permission that I felt I needed to save my sanity. She gave me the strength to take the leap. My fellow yoga teacher trainees also showed me a way of life that I yearned for. One of self care and self love.

It has been a year of major transitions, the biggest being our move three hours away from family and friends to open our own retreat center. It has not been a smooth road, and I have questioned our actions many times, but I knew that if I kept listening to my heart that it would never lead me astray. I began this journey to self love and I now feel confident that my story and knowledge can be what I share to help others.

Please contact me if you feel pulled to. Know that you are worth loving and worth the journey.

Love & Light!

Check out www.yoga4love.com if you want to get certified in yoga online! Be a part of the Goddess Tribe!

Creation Keeps Me Centered

I am at the point in my training that I am creating my own classes and teaching. (YAY!) I graduate in only a few weeks and then I will have the certification I worked a year to attain. I have three online classes on my schedule each week and it has been really fun figuring out how to shift each sequence to fit what I’m wishing to share that day. Two of the classes are under the same name, “Relax into Stillness”, a night class designed to relax you for sleep. It is a half hour where we are only doing sitting and supine poses, then we end with a meditation and maybe a mantra. My first live class I was shaking like a leaf inside but I got comfortable a few minutes in and ended the class strong. I feel like it is a good beginning class to teach for me right now.

Using technology to plan my classes

My third class is in the morning, “Sunrise Salutation on the Lake” where I want to do 8 Surya Namaskars with the breath, 8 breaths between each sequence and do a longer meditation and mantra at the end. I’m still learning how long each posture will take and I want to slow myself down to hold the poses longer. I tend to speed up when I’m nervous.

The feeling of teaching online is strange. I feel like I’m speaking into the void if there aren’t participants live that I can see. I also have to consider who will be seeing it as a recording and teach to them as well. I think this is a great transitional period so I can get comfortable teaching, get used to working the technology, and also try and grow my student body virtually.

My YouTube Channel’s Header

The rise of Covid-19 has really shifted everything in our daily lives. I hope that people find the benefit of practicing yoga with others while being in this quarantine. I know that for me, any sort of connection, no matter how small, makes a big difference for my well being.

These last couple of weeks my creativity is in overdrive. So many ideas are floating in my head about content to put out there that I sometimes find it hard to sleep. I might be fixating on this to placate my fears of an unknown future. Will society be forever changed by the pandemic? How will the Retreat Center survive if we lose our summer bookings? Will my wife, an ER nurse, be safe through this crisis? So many worries and questions that creation seems more appealing than staying in a constant panic.

I have really been holding to my gratitude practices and I know that it has served me well. Gratitude for what I now have keeps my mind out of that precarious future and back in the present where it belongs. So, I will continue to remind myself how lucky I am and start making my dreams and concepts emerge through my class flow and other videos. I feel that if I can make one person’s day a little brighter, than I will have done what I set out to do.

Find your calm. Find your connection. And always, remember to breathe!

Love & Light!

Writing Prompts: Chances

I was given a journal from one of my close friends a while back that has writing prompts on every page to inspire and discover something about yourself. I really found it helpful, especially getting away from my normal journaling routine of ‘I did this…then that…then another thing.’ I think I will start to add some of my journaling here when I feel the urge.

Writing Prompt: I am excited by these chances I am taking…

My life has completely changed direction in the past year. I gave birth to a beautiful little creature that I need to protect and teach daily. My wife and I are trying to navigate working full-time while keeping Deb out of daycare. The chances in this last year started with the decision to begin in earnest my yoga journey with teacher training online and making the commitment to have my certification to help others down that same path. Only a month after doing that, I made the biggest decision thus far in my adult working career to leave the well paying job that I held for 11 years. I left without a plan for what was next, I just knew that I couldn’t see myself there anymore working 50 plus hours and never seeing my family. The pain of stress and upset was too intense and it was a long time coming. I made that leap.

I had many interviews and felt out my choices, but I stuck to my gut and went for a sales position that I had no experience in, knowing that it was what I was meant to do at that moment. It was a major pay cut, and that worried us, but I kept my positivity up and started training. Only a week into training, the position received a near 40% increase in pay! It felt like the universe was listening to my need for financial stability and brought that into my life. It was amazing!

Since starting this new position, I have made it my daily mission to practice mindfulness in every part of my day. I read one of my books for yoga TT on the shuttle to work. I get outside on all my breaks to enjoy the sunshine and fresh air. I try and stay hopeful and happy regardless of the task I am doing at work. I smile and greet everyone I pass by and I remember to be grateful for my every breath. This has helped me immensely with the stress of meeting new people and starting from scratch in a new career.

I truly feel that the chances I took have brought more happiness and peace into my life. My outlook has shifted to the point that everyone around me is starting to feel the ripple effect. My wife is meditating with me, my positive attitude is rubbing off on my colleagues, and my family situation couldn’t be better. Knowing that if I follow my inner voice it will lead me to the right answer is so empowering that I hope this inspires someone to try to listen to theirs. The universe is connected, just tell it what you need and it will come to you!

Love and light!

My daughter and I

Prompt from “An Inspired Life: A journal for thinking, dreaming, and discovering.” by M. H. Clark

Dragon Goddess

For my yoga teacher training, there is an assignment in the first module of finding a goddess that resonates with you and why. I spent a little time googling different goddesses and none really seemed to connect. There were many I hadn’t even heard of, only knowing their male counterparts in the mythology I learned through the years.

Then a thought struck me. I have always felt a kinship to the dragon. Growing up, my fascination with the movie ‘Dragonheart’ and even the earthly dragons that were dinosaurs in ‘Jurassic Park’ was very real. My favorite book series was ‘The Death Gate Cycle’ and dragons were a big part of the worlds in its pages. One of my first tattoos, on a silly whim that I later regretted because of the placement, was a dragon serpent on my chest when I was 19. More recently, I had been a part of a tea ceremony and through the process felt another spark with the mythical creature through the connection of tea. I googled ‘dragon goddess’ and Tiamat came up.

My tattoo, who I named Sangdrax (after character in Death Gate Cycle)

The funny thing about this goddess is I have heard of her before, but not from studying Babylonian lore. It was from another large part of my childhood, the video game series Final Fantasy. This may seem minuscule but I was obsessed with Final Fantasy for many years, so in turn it was significant and precious to me.

Tiamat from Final Fantasy VIII

Tiamat was the mother of all the gods. “She was the primordial Chaos, and the all-powerful, nurturing Mother of everything in existence.She was associated with the salt water ocean, the origin of life on Earth. From Her waters, She gave rise to the land and separated it from the sky, as the ocean’s horizon does.” The ocean has always been a calming and restorative factor in my life and I always feel pulled to water and also humbled by it. “Tiamat is the personification of elemental forces of Nature that can never be tamed or constrained.” My kind of goddess! (Quotes taken from wikipedia.com)

I liked this exercise very much. It gave rise to much retrospection and interesting thoughts on my connection with my own inner goddess. The dragon will always be my symbol of strength, passion, and magic.

Namaste


Lots of New Beginnings

I had our first 6am meditation in the park today for our Zen House Tribe MeetUp group. I was by myself, but I was able to scope the place out and find the perfect spot for next time. I understand that it may always just be myself, as 6am is quite early on a monday morning, but it is good to keep myself accountable and also give others the opportunity to join if they so desire, thus creating community.

The weather was perfect, but very muddy

I started my actual teacher training today, talking via Zoom to the director Lisa Ware and a very nice yogini who helped me with the registration process. It is a little overwhelming at first. They use a lot of different applications, so I spent a good two hours of my Easter yesterday downloading apps and signing up for things. But I think I have most of it down.

I took my first class on Youtube and it wasn’t as strange as I thought. I have tried yoga on Youtube alone before and I felt like I didn’t get the same feeling as I do in class. Being there in real life will never be topped, but I really enjoyed my hatha vinyasa class. After that I listened to one of the audios available, chanting with the Chakras. I miss chanting with others, it is very soothing and you feel connected on a deep level to those around you.

One of the assignments is to take a picture of your Quiet place, where you will be doing Sadhana, meaning spiritual excursion towards an intended goal. I feel quite proud of my ‘Red Room’, called that for obvious reasons. It is part of the course that I create and keep a meditation daily routine. At least I have day one down!

My sacred ‘Red Room’

I have tomorrow off so I plan to delve deeper into the log I need to keep and also work on some other homework for my other three classes. (Might have bitten more off than I should have). What seems like a million books that are required reading will be coming in as well from Amazon. Where to even begin? So many possibilities!

Namaste