The end of an era for me: Saying Goodbye to Instructing Body Flow

Posted on Posted in Heart, Move, Uncategorized

It pains me to write this. I actually am having a hard time figuring out where to start, where to end. This might be a looong post and it will be written more for me and my own reflection than for anyone reading it, so I apologize in advance. But I made the decision today to say goodbye to one of my true passions–instructing Body Flow.

My first memory of Flow is probably 15 years ago at the Markham women’s gym. A bubbly, curly haired instructor left me in awe after one try (I think her name was Sherese or something close to that–she became a team leader and was an amazing Jam instructor too) and I was hooked. I’m sure it was my sister who introduced me to the class though, and to this day we share a bond based on our connection with the program and our love for it. I remember being at the Markville club and release 25…I mean seriously, Dido, Michelle Branch (I can still remember “Could you look me in the eye…”–croc to up dog sequence. Anyone who flows will understand how the songs will forevermore be attached to movement), Black Eyed Peas (the stomach punches? anyone?). Just magic.

I moved to Ottawa the next year but kept my GoodLife membership and brought my bestie Leanne to the classes at the Vanier location. Our instructor was Julie, a friend of Leanne’s sister-in-law, and she took us in like sisters of her own. She could press from full crocodile to up dog without resting on the floor!!! What?!! And so began my obsession with gaining strength in Flow. At that time, Julie had suggested I get my training and I did reach out to do so, but quickly backed out maybe out of fear of failure or fear of commitment, or both. Ps I think I knew release 30 off by heart by that point and perhaps to this day still do–circle of the heart to Dido’s “Here With Me” AHHHH so good.

Years later and a move to Whitby brought me to my home club at Brock and Taunton. Rebecca’s Thursday afternoon class. And with a push and nudge from my sister Heidi (who also has been a Flow instructor–trained release 32), to the auditions in Toronto to try out for a spot in the Flow training. My cousin Lindsay was there with me too, and she still instructs down town (I think she was at McCaul but maybe has moved??). I trained Release 38 in Burlington under Renee in November, mentored under Rebecca, and took over her Thursday class in February when she changed class schedules. And the Wednesday 7:30 fell into my lap somehow too. I don’t tell many people this, but I failed my first video submission. I did not cue the breath, not once! Actually at the time I really didn’t understand AT ALL how important the breath connection was. I remember thinking, “the breath?! What the shit?! Who cares about that?!” Clearly after ten years I NOW GET IT.

Touching on what sooooo many flow-ers come back to flow for–the music–wow. Just wow. That is what you remember. There are songs, that when I hear them now, I can tell you the release number and EXACTLY what was happening in my life at the time of the release. There are songs that will forever resonate with me as being a huge part of my existence. My bridesmaids walked down the aisle to “Song to the Siren”. I grieved the loss of a friend to “Silence” by Delerium. Maisie came into this world to “Stay”. My birthing play lists were all at least 50 songs worth of my Flow faves, and I was able to become meditative in my labours because of them. I’ll never forget Dawn (Flow mentor and guru!!) telling me that she loves how much I love the music but that I should be aware of how much I tap my toes to the beat lol! Anyone who has taken my class knows I spend most of the hour singing. Sorry!!! I just can’t resist.

Now through my first two pregnancies I loved teaching Flow, despite the obvious discomforts and the obstacles a gigantic protrusion will cause. I still felt great and actually often had other pregnant women in the class who could follow along with my modifications and learn from my prenatal exercise knowledge (I’m certainly not the be-all expert but I have many prenatal trainings including CFP and Yoga). But this last pregnancy, I suffered from debilitating exhaustion in my first trimester. I was falling asleep with Arya by 6:45 or 7pm and sleeping through the night. On stage, I was seeing spots and becoming dizzy going from any fold to any upright position. I remember being in a twist facing away from the class, tears running down my face, then wiping them away to turn to face the members again. So I left just 4 months into the pregnancy. Of course eventually I felt totally better but by that point I had started my leave and decided to just enjoy some freedom and extra time with my girls before the babe came. My return to work date is set for November 11, with no option for extending. And at this point I just can’t even fathom returning.

It’s not the typical “Fl-anger” as Dev would call it (try leaving the pool-side on a hot summer’s day to teach inside at a gym, it makes you Fl-angry…but the second you get on stage, you feel FL-AWESOME and the Fl-anger absolutely subsides)…it’s way beyond that. It’s what some instructors make look so easy. It’s the hours upon hours of learning choreography. I actually became a pro at learning choreo, I can’t quite describe the system I had but coming on 10 years of teaching gave me some skill at figuring out patterns in flow transitions and music, etc, but it is still hard. And it’s still TIME. It’s knowing you have a sick kid at day care and not even worrying about telling your principal you have to leave your teaching job, but worrying about who will be the emergency Flow sub. It’s then feeling the self-put-on-pressure to return the favour but knowing how almost impossible it will be to find someone to watch the kids so you can sub. It’s learning how to use technology to download the latest release and transfer the music to your phone (yes, that was actually hard for me! lol). It’s remembering the back up cord (but having the wrong one anyway). It’s the nightmares (every Wednesday night without fail) about being late for class or forgetting your music and the looks of disappointment when you finally arrive. It’s knowing I am now leaving my parents with three children, four and under (yes I know you can handle it ;), and also knowing that they are taking a well deserved yearly trip to Florida for two months…and then leaving the pressure on Dev to get home from work in time for me to get to class. Bah…it’s just right now. Hard. Please know, those instructors put their heart and soul into this job. If you haven’t lately, give them a big hug 😉

People are asking if I am teaching yoga elsewhere or if I have plans to, and the answer to that is…no!! I am waaaay too selfish with my small amount of free time right now to be giving any of it to anyone else. How terrible is that?! But it’s true. For now, my yoga time is used strictly for me; to learn, to grow, to become the best possible student I can be. I have some ideas in mind for the future, and if and when I chose to take those steps I want to be sure I am in a place where I can give time, energy, and knowledge to my students. Right now, I want others to be leading me in yoga and not the other way around.

I need to tell so many of you thanks…to all of my fellow instructors, anyone who released with me, who led on stage while I enjoyed participating, who subbed for me or took over a class for me, who brought me treats, who took part or all of any of my mat leaves, who supported me as my boss, who inspired me (too many to name), massaged my aching muscles, flowed beside me at practice, became my spiritual advisor and yoga PIC, who cared enough to check in on me, THANK YOU. I’m hoping and believe you will totally know who you are. To all my friends, school and Flow colleagues, and family who came to one or one hundred of my classes, and members who became friends, THANK YOU. Seriously any instructor will tell you it is the members that make us love our job and make us want to teach. To my member crew, who posted their fave lyrics after class, some of whom delivered gifts for my children to my door, drank tea with me, or even shared with me the prenatal yoga class journey–thank you! Thank you to my parents who faithfully arrived every Thursday at 3:45 so I could have some time out of the house. Thank you to Dev who struggled to give Arya a bedtime bottle every Wednesday night for her first year, for all the winter Thursdays you had to rush home, and for understanding all the nights I took over our living room to practice.

Now if you are still reading this, thank you. I got it all out and now have a little something to look back on in a year or two when I super regret this decision! May the student and teacher in me honour the student and teacher in you, Namaste.