Year One: Ah, beautiful freedom

By Jana Hill
Yoga Instructor and Marketing Assistant and Freelance writer/editor …

Well, it’s been a full year in my new professional path. One year ago, I suspended my freelance writing-and-editing business, and decided to focus on being a yoga instructor.

Now, when asked, “What do you do?” I answer, “I’m a fitness instructor — um, a yoga instructor, and a marketing assistant. I teach yoga, mostly.”

But, you’re distracted. We should stop and clear something up. You’re thinking, “What?! This is ‘Bennu Yoga’ — yoga. You teach yoga. You are not a “fitness” anything. Stay focused.

Well, you’re right and you’re wrong. Like freelancing, yoga-instruction ebbs and flows, and requires some diversity in order to keep working, keep providing for the home life. Because, while yoga is one of those professions that people say they would do for free — and we all would because it is awesome — the reality is that matching-up needs in a multi-employer life is tricky. And, making money is essential.

The distinction between being a yoga instructor only, and a lots-of-things worker, relates to a lesson learned in my freelancing era. It was about living in the “now” you’re given, not the “now” you would prefer. Or assume  you’d prefer — because a “now” you don’t have is not real.

It’s a yoga-thing. Stay with me, here.

But, first, a step back in time: in 2006, I left an on-staff, standard-job life, at a newspaper. and opened a freelance business shortly after. Business ownership wasn’t what I wanted — it wasn’t the “now” I imagined. But, as I reflect on it, it was “perfect.” Flexible. Varied. Challenging.

Ah, beautiful freedom!

In that era, I developed my own brand and my own specializations. And I learned how to politely and firmly say “no,” about a thousand different ways. Because when you cast a wide net in freelancing, people occasionally come back with a common narrative — one that is seemingly born of the Internet era, but probably has its roots in any recession-era.

It’s a long story, so I’ll be concise — many would-be clients in freelance writing and editing want people to work for free. Or less than free — meaning the writer covers her own costs, and is paid nothing. I turned down those clients, but the waste-of-time element is always one I recall with puzzlement.

Ah, beautiful freedom!

As in all things, with the bad came the good. I collected up some regard: I landed some sweet gigs and impressive projects. And because of my freelance experiences, I have a deep respect for the small business owners who have employed me in the past year — my first year in a new profession.

No one in my fitness industry has been so crass as to expect me to work for free. And, if they did, I bet they’d call it a volunteer position — because that is honest. I’m impressed by the openness and generosity in a field that is populated with mostly very small businesses.

So, what did I learn, and how do I transfer that to yoga-lady talk? I learned that owning your place always matters. That finding people “like you” works out. That it’s not only okay to turn down work when you don’t have any in-hand, it’s imperative.

I learned that yoga is still yoga, and it is everywhere. And as I recall all this, I also learned that I am still a bit sad that the Internet ate my profession. But I love my new one. I am  accepting my “now,” as it is. I’m now a marketing professional, albeit part-time. I now teach yoga and other types of movement: sometimes I teach a little, sometimes I teach a lot. And, on that now-note — back to yoga.

Yoga is liberation. Ah, beautiful freedom!

It is peace and joy. It is radical attention to exactly right now, regardless of what right now is like. The goal-less goal in yoga is finding your way into what I refer to as “The Peace Bubble.” When you get into a pose, or a moment, where there is nothing else. No racing mind. No thoughts of “later.” No regrets of “before.” Just a safe space, all around you, and an awake kind of feeling, knowing that you are here, and are not trying to change it. You’re just in it.

And more than anything else, I learned that things can change and change again, and all you can really do is keep moving. Just like we do in a flow class.

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