“I’m too old / fat / out of shape for yoga”

This last week – for the first time in my life – my feet lifted off the floor in the very tricky arm balance bakasana (or crow pose).

I am almost half a century old and a couple weeks ago – for the first time in my life! – I conquered that fear of falling on my face, and I had patiently gained the strength and core integrity to balance on my hands.

This is more impressive than you might realize!

It is a lot harder as an adult to learn new physical skills or feats of strength – than it is to return to habits of childhood!

I didn’t grow up with any gymnastics, calisthenics, or attendant practice. When you see me doing what I can do – I had to earn that in adulthood, after decades of life, after giving birth to two children, and while living as a working class artist (meaning: life is hard!)

The hanumanasana (front splits) you see me chilling into, in class – well you are seeing me do something I’ve never done before.

I had to get there with these weathered bones and aged muscles! LOL

Another thing:

You also might have noticed I am fat. It’s true!

And –

It has to be said I don’t dress like a “yoga teacher”. I am not in fashionable leggings and a cute sports top. Half the time my hair gets in the way as we flow and I’m always trying to tie and push it back.

It’s not that I don’t take pride in how I dress, it’s that I have had to carefully allocate yoga funds to building the space. I’ve put retained yoga earnings into shelving, rent, security deposit, insurance, licensure etc etc. And that’s okay – because I made these priorities with intention.

Here’s what I mean, though:

It’s true I don’t look like a yoga teacher, or even a yoga practitioner.

But if I’d waited to start yoga until I “looked the part” –

I’d never have started.

***

Why am I sharing all this? Because:

I am trying to WREST the true nature of yoga away from the American fitspo culture chokehold.

If you scroll the Instagram “yoga” tag (Instagram is currently the largest social media platform out there) – you’ll see youthful, slim, mostly white, aspirationally-dressed and very athletic practitioners hitting difficult poses – usually showcased in elegant, pristine locations.

The truth is…

Yoga isn’t like that.

I mean SOME yoga will look like that – all tidy and slim and clean and wealthy or wealth-adjacent. And that’s just fine.

But…

If you wait to have all those ducks in a row, you’ll never start.

And precisely WHO is getting cheated if you skip yoga until you “look like” a yoga practitioner?

(Spoiler: YOU are getting cheated).

Yoga is messy and goofy. Yoga we’re practicing in a thousand-year old sports bra. Yoga we spy a hairball in the corner of the room as we’re moving to chill in our ardha kapotasana. Yoga is arriving almost-late to class and feeling cranky and annoyed. Yoga is getting a bitchy attitude that someone else in class can do a pose “better” than you. Yoga is accidentally farting in pavanmuktasana (hey, there’s a reason it’s called “wind-relieving pose”)!

Yoga isn’t about perfection.

It’s about daily intention – and the action to back our intensions up.

I’ve created the Little Switch Yoga space to be clean, reliable, and electric.

No hairballs! 🙂 I’ve created a peaceful space with good props, a lot of laughs and some music and tea to share!

I’ve carved out this space, right here in Grays Harbor.

There won’t be another space like it, if it goes.

Now is the PERFECT time for you to see if yoga can serve you –

The way it has served young and old, fat and thin, disabled and temporarily able-bodied, rich and poor.

You are worth going through this trouble.

You really are!

I’d love to see you on the mat!

how to prepare for your yoga class

No yoga class is exactly like another, but I’ve been going to classes so long I often forget that a lot of people don’t know what to expect. One of the things I forget is that if you’re new to yoga, it can be hard to know what to expect.

So here’s a list! These guidelines certainly work for Little Switch classes and will do you well in most any yoga class you attend.

Arrive on time, and prepared to practice.

Please arrive with time to spare so that you can settle on your mat, silence your phone, and be ready to practice with the rest of the class.

Wear comfortable clothes – and dress in layers.

There is no yoga “uniform”. Wear what feels comfortable to you. I see a lot of leggings and tank tops on Instagram/TikTok but remember those are yoga influencers. As practitioners, we wear clean clothes that are comfortable to move in! Maybe leggings, maybe tank tops, maybe not. Wear something cozy – that’s it.

I like to advise wearing layers as it’s impossible to find the perfect temperature that pleases everyone! You may get warm during practice and want to remove a layer; then while we rest at the end of class, you may want to cozy up. My personal recommendation? Very warm socks, for savasana.

In general, we practice barefoot. But if you want to keep your shoes on or wear socks, just be mindful during any balance or wide-legged standing poses.

If you can, buy yourself a mat.

I have mats at the studio you are welcome to use! But I highly advise getting your own. This is for three reasons:

1. to invest in yourself and your practice – to show your commitment to quality props and materials for your own use.

2. the studio mats are great for padding – but paying for a more upscale mat provides more access to poses. I personally like Jade, and Manduka mats. They are positively no-slip! When I practice on a lower-quality mat, I always feel a bit impeded.

3. if you have a mat you bring to and from class, you may start practicing at home, too! It’s nice to get used to your mat. You come to have a fond feeling about it!

Now – mats can be expensive. It may take time to save up. But I have found the expense of a better-quality mat, is far outweighed by the health benefits that regular practice delivers!

Let the instructor know of any special needs or requests you have.

A group class cannot tailor to one individual at the expense of the group; however, your instructor is trained and qualified to help you with anything you need. Many times your requests can be accommodated – so don’t be shy!

Some examples of special needs or requests you may have:

1. Let your instructor know if you are experiencing pain or soreness. The instructor can then help you be as comfortable as possible during class, with suggestions and/or props.

2. Let your instructor know if you are new or newish to yoga! They will tailor the class with more helpful explanation than they might otherwise.

3. Let your instructor know if you are sensitive to sound or scent. Each class is listed with a full explanation of sensory and adaptive information. But your instructor will accommodate you as much as possible!

Make sure you are neither too hungry or too full.

Life is busy and sometimes we make mistakes – I once taught two classes back-to-back after consuming a huge lunch of spicy nachos! Oof!

While we can’t expect perfection here, it’s worth noting that going to class while too hungry will be distracting and even cranky-inducing; going to class while too full can foment discomfort.

Remember – it’s your practice, so listen to your body.

You don’t have to do an asana (pose) that doesn’t feel right – ever! In yoga, listen to your body. Follow the cues of your breath and body. As long as you aren’t disrupting the class or other students’ safety and participation, you really REALLY can do what you need to on the mat.

I don’t just talk the talk on this one. MANY times I’ve been in a class that was a little too intense, or fast, or whatever – and I did exactly what I needed to for myself, rejoining the class practice when I was ready. In fact to be honest, this was one of the most liberating moments in my yoga history. This helps me walk into any class with confidence – I know I’m going to take care of myself. Put that into practice for YOUR body and mind, and your yoga experience will soar!

Ask yourself *why* you practice!

This may be the scariest suggestion on this list!

Ask yourself WHY you practice. You can do this on your way to class, after class – or during an introspective moment in class.

Don’t feel like you need to come up with an answer right away. Don’t pressure yourself either! Just ask yourself. I’ll tell you, I practiced for YEARS and asked myself and many days the answer was, “I don’t know!” And that’s okay. Because over time, this regular check-in helped me really solidify the fact that I was finding practice beneficial. I’m glad I didn’t just go to class on autopilot – because I’d have quit by now!

I hope you’ve found this post helpful!

We’d love to practice with you. Click here to book a class!

one month in as an online teacher

If you ask any yoga teacher whether they prefer online or in-person yoga class, most say in-person. 

Most human beings like being together to go good work. They like sharing space, and taking comfort with these kinds of connections.

This makes sense!

That said, there are so many benefits to an online class.

Online classes – whether teaching or participating – remove a lot of barriers to taking, or teaching, a yoga class. Online classes are generally lower overhead – you don’t need to drive anywhere. As s a student you can show up RIGHT when class starts, and (if you needed to) you could also leave early with minimal disruption.

For those who are housebound, or without easy access to travel, those living in rural or remote spaces, those with any form of social anxiety, and those wanting to minimize risk of illness – online live yoga classes are an absolute blessing

Each week I teach twice in-person and twice online.

I am still over the moon to be included in Ompractice’s impressive lineup! This teaching gig is a real blessing for me as it allows me to be paid appropriately for my expertise, to get to practice teaching – and to be part of a passionate yoga teaching community.

The Ompractice platform is also just exciting to be a part of! They continue to deepen, develop and improve – it’s very exciting to be involved!

So!

I’m adjusting to the differences of online vs. in-person. (I did teach online FREE GRATIS all year last year, but I had pretty low attendance.)

For instance:

As an online instructor I find myself more preoccupied – more worried – about my teaching performance. In person it’s easy to make small talk, to make eye contact. It’s also a bit easier in-person to sense someone’s feelings. Not that I’m all that great at that, but there is a tactile awareness that transpires between students and teachers, when we share the same room.

Uncharacteristically, at the end of my online class I find myself wanting to ask, “Was that okay? Did you have a good time?” 

I don’t do that – for many reasons!

But I still wonder!

I notice that both online and in-person students are similar in that they are shy about asking for help before, during and after class.

This might just be down to personality. I am a total TEACHER’S PET and NERD, I always have been. When I’m in a class I’m highly-engaged and I want to brain suck (warning, gross scene lol) everything I can out of teachers and fellow students. Now I’ve lived and learned enough to temper this proclivity of mine and to read the room, but honestly this is the kind of student I am!

I am already starting to get some online “regulars”, which feels very special. And just like it’s best not to guess at why someone does or doesn’t return to a class in person – it’s just impossible to figure that out, online. Still, when someone comes for several classes and then doesn’t return, I (of course!) worry it was something I did or didn’t do, that turned them away.

The truth is it’s likely they didn’t return (or haven’t yet) simply because 1. life is busy and/or difficult; and 2. very very few people discipline themselves to regular physical, mental and emotional self-care.

I love the mix I have right now – teaching both in-person and online.

I love being able to bring something wholesome and helpful to the world. I love being part of a platform that makes live yoga classes so easy! I admire all the work that went into Ompractice to help it thrive (and through teacher meetings I’m starting to get a peek behind the curtain).

Wherever you can find live embodied physical classes – whether at a gym, at a studio, online or in a living room – please do support these classes! Support these options with your dollars – and share with your friends, spread word on social media.

We need to make the kind of world we want to see.

Every one who attends my class(es), helps this good work continue.

Thank you – from the bottom of my heart!

Agni Hogaboom from Little Switch Yoga is now teaching on Ompractice

A new series: Yoga for Absolute Beginners

I’m so pleased to offer a Yoga for Absolute Beginners series in March – the 19th through the 23rd of April, from 6:45 PM to 8 PM on Sundays!

In addition to our class time, each student receives a personal one hour session!

I’ll share a bit about what to expect from this series, then answer a few questions I’ve been asked.

What to expect:

Introduction to the history of yoga
Yoga is over 5,000 years old. I can’t possibly cover the history in six sessions even if I was a big expert (and I’m not)! But what I can do is give you the foundational information I wish I’d had, when I first started practicing twenty years ago!

Yoga language, yoga concepts, and Sanskrit
I’d like you to feel comfortable in a class – to know what to expect, whatever class you may end up in. Even though there are many, many types of yoga classes there are a few things I feel I can safely – and smartly – teach you, to prepare you for any setting you walk into.

The Eight Limbs of Yoga
What are the Eight Limbs of Yoga and why do they matter? Our physical health may be important to us, and that’s a good thing. But there is more to yoga than just corporeal exercise. We are more than just the strength and flexibility of our bodies.

While most the time you meet with me at Little Switch – in a group class, or private practice – we will be employing the physical arm of yoga – asana (or poses) – I want to touch on all eight arms of yoga for context. I promise: you’ll be glad I did.

Physical alignment
When it comes to asana, alignment and form are more important than trying to “look” like the instructor, or form an impressive-looking shape or feat of strength. In our six weeks I will get you grounded in alignment so you can enjoy practice, so you can stay safer in practice, and so you can benefit from practice.

Families of poses
I will lead us through varying degrees of depth of all basic families of yoga postures: standing poses, twists, hip openers, inversions, forward bends, backbends, arm balances, yin, and restorative yoga.

Yoga in Western culture
“Yoga” means an awful lot of different things. I want you equipped to find the classes – and instructors – that work best for you. My goal is for these six weeks to empower your own path. You deserve to enjoy every minute of your practice – it shouldn’t be a chore, or a competition.

Connection with the community
Six weeks together – we’ll get to know one another a little bit! I promise, you’ll feel a special fondness for the students you share this time with. Over time, I think you’ll find that’s the highest value experience of the series.

A personal hour with yours truly!
That’s right! Each one of you who enrolls receives a one-on-one hour with me to talk about your practice, about any modifications or variations that may suit you, about any injury history, and your intentions and goals for your practice.

A one-on-one session currently carries $75 fee but, if you enroll in the six week course, you receive this time complimentary. Upon enrollment you’ll receive a link and packet explaining how to claim this hour.

Again – my every intention is to bring you a safe, powerful, joyful experience that can boost you in your continued practice.

And finally…

Yes, you will get a workout!
While we won’t be huffin’ and puffin’ through a vigorous flow during the entirety of our six sessions together – make no mistake we will be moving, challenging, and strengthening our bodies!

My goal is not just to teach you more about yoga – but to help you fall in love with yoga, so you’ll be motivated and enthusiastic after we part ways!

And remember –

You can join a regular group class – anytime!

FAQ:

Am I too “out of shape” for this class?
No. However, you will be signing the same waiver every student does, affirming that you’ve discussed a yoga practice with your qualified, trusted practitioner.

If you can breathe, you can take this series.

Am I too “advanced” for this class?
Possibly! However, I am a fairly advanced practitioner and I’m designing a class I would want to take – if that makes sense! If you are fairly practiced I believe you will enjoy getting to work on the finer details of alignment – as well as connect with a grounded community. 

I don’t want anyone in the series who doesn’t want to be there, and who doesn’t benefit from the experience. If after reading this post you’re still unsure – feel free to email me, or meet with me after a group class.

Will you be teaching modifications in each asana (pose)?
Absolutely – although I call them variations. But: yes!

How many people will be in the series?
In order to provide a quality experience for all, I will accept between five to eight students. Any fewer, and I feel that puts too much pressure on each student. Any more, and I wouldn’t be able to provide quality attention to each student.

What happens if the series doesn’t get five signups?
You will be refunded in full, with my gratitude. But – tell your friends, so we can fill this roster and you can take the series with a buddy!

What happens if the class fills up?
Stay on my waitlist! If these series are popular, I will be sure to run them again.

***

Any other questions I haven’t responded to? Please feel free to email me directly.

I’d love to see you March 19th!

You can sign up here.

What to expect in group class

Group classes – at a studio, YMCA, or gym – are by far the most common yoga experience for most Americans.

You know the drill: you show up, take off your shoes and socks, unroll your mat, and begin with some breathing or light stretching, then soon you’re off to doing synchronous poses (called asana) with the rest of the class.

That’s the general gist!

Here’s what to expect at Little Switch.

Courtesy

Make sure to arrive five minutes before classtime at the latest – because it will take you time to remove your coat, shoes and socks, and to find a place to unroll your mat.

If you haven’t yet reviewed my paperwork and signed the waiver, make sure to be there at least fifteen minutes early – that’s 5:15. Don’t worry, you just have to read and sign the waiver once!

All are welcome!

I know almost all yoga studios say this kind of thing, but I have been to many “Beginner” classes where suddenly the instructor was throwing down incredibly difficult asana or vigorous flow sequences.

This can feel so incredibly discouraging for a Beginner.

As an instructor leading a group class, it’s not possible to personalize each asana for each student (that is what private instruction is for). My job is to hold space.

But I often teach TO the beginner (inasmuch as I can in a group class), trusting that the more seasoned practitioner can still find usefulness in each asana.

If you ever have a question if a class or particular Series are a good fit for you – simply ask me!

I do not touch students without consent.

In my first few months of class, I won’t be touching you at all! This is so I can focus on setting up the space, my verbal queueing – that sort of thing.

I am more likely to provide adjustment during private instruction, but only when needed (and usually it is not needed).

But in every case I ask before I adjust a student. I will never assume consent – ever.

I like to use props.

I am currently working on gathering more props because the more we have access to – the better!

I’ve written about props a bit before. My preference is that EVERY student brings them nearby before class starts. Even if you think you “don’t need them – they will benefit your practice a great deal, and lead you into a better and stronger place for the times you practice without them.

We conclude on time.

Just like you can expect me ready to start class on time – I’ll end class on time, too. In the first limb of yoga we practice the Yamas – and the third Yama is Asteya: non-stealing. I don’t steal your time. Your time is your most precious resource.

We end class with a longer savasana.

If you want 59 of your 60 minutes to be booty-toning, abs-busting sweaty workout – frankly, I’m just not the instructor for you.

Savasana (final resting pose; corpse pose) is important to allow our bodies and minds to absorb our practice, to allow us to begin to feel gratitude – and to let our parasympathetic nervous system kick in and provide us that rest and recover stage of physical exertion.

I recommend you bring cozy socks, blanket, hoodie, et cetera – feeling warm, supported and restful during savasana is worth it!

You can trust me.

Again: my job is to hold space for my students, and to lead you through the practice of yoga asana. I continue

I did not start Little Switch as a money-making enterprise – I am only teaching a handful of times each week.

I started Little Switch to teach all eight limbs of yoga, to foster more health, wellness and self-care to Grays Harbor, and to create a strong yoga community here.

I’d love to see you in class!

You can sign up here.

What to expect in private instruction

If you are considering private instruction with me – congratulations!

This is one of the smartest and deepest investments you can make in your practice.

My private practice with my own teachers has been one of the most helpful, exhilarating, and deeply moving yoga experiences of my life! I get stronger, stretch better, work safer, breathe deeper, and experience more confidence and joy in my practice!

Not to mention I get to work on those extras that are fun to play with: headstands, splits, upward bow pose. These asana aren’t necessary to master (or even attempt) but under the guidance of an instructor I was able to progress in these advanced asanas safely! By myself and in group class, I wasn’t making headway.

Now, as an instructor myself I am so glad to be in the position to provide private sessions to my students.

If you’re thinking about private practice, here is what to expect:

I bring my particular ethos to every session.

If you don’t like what you read here, it is likely I am not a good fit for you. I am always happy to clarify any questions you have.

If you’re into my vibe, then let’s meet!

Getting ready for private instruction:

You don’t have to over-prepare. Like all my students, you need to affirm you have discussed yoga practice with a trusted and qualified professional, and you need to  review and sign my three forms: the liability waiver, attestation of health/Covid status, and photography policy. You may request these before our time together, and come to me with any questions – or we can go over them in our first session.

While we can of course meet in your home, I advise we meet in my studio space or my home.

Here’s why.

Being away from your home environment will help you put all your to-do list aside (like housework, bills to pay, et cetera) and will relieve you of any (subtle or overt) pressure to “host” me in your space.

Being away from your home environment will help you segregate your practice, and focus on your practice. You may in time develop a solid home practice (although that is hard to stick to, for many), but in many ways meeting in a private studio setting, is more impactful.

Just you and I!

You will want to come dressed comfortably, and to bring your mat. I will have props available and we will be discussing them during our time together.

Our first meeting:

You get to relax and let me ask you some questions, and take notes. This will help me better get to know your history, your goals, and your hopes.

The orientation and intake part of our session will take anywhere from fifteen to forty minutes. Then we’l get moovin’ and groovin’!

Asana:

The asana, pranayama and pratyahara we work through we work through will depend on our initial discussion, as well as check-ins at the beginning of each session.

Consent:

I do not touch my students without consent – no exceptions. Never worry that I will touch you in class or in private instruction without first asking.

Similarly, I do not take photographs of students without their verbal or written consent (and I don’t take many photographs in general, so you can relax about that)!

I also do not publicly identify my students without prior written or verbal consent. (Although I love it when you identify, tag, and refer me to your friends!)

Confidentiality:

Our time together and the work we do will remain entirely confidential.

Attendance and tardiness:

I will arrive on time, fed, rested and ready to focus. I ask the same of my students.

If you are feeling stressed or pressed when we get together – that is okay! We will take care of that in our time together!

But I do ask that you arrive on time, for each session. Since I booked time with you and therefore could not book time with another, there will be no refunds if you are late or do not make it to our session. However if I am unable to be there  – regardless of reason – you will receive a full refund.

***

Private practice is one of the deepest gifts you can give yourself. You will not regret this commitment to your yoga practice. You will also be so glad to bring a stronger, more stable practice the next time you’re in a group class!

If you’d like to purchase a multi-session package, reach out via email and we can have that conversation.

I look forward – so much! – to our time together.

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