why a sliding scale business in grays harbor?

So as the only public sliding scale business on the Harbor I am definitely seeing some confusion as to why I’d even do this.

And one person has criticized me sharply for operating this way.

Let’s clear the air, yes?

It’s time to get real.

If all I did was offer a yoga space with a flat pricing fee, the price per class would be anywhere from the $20 – $30 you typically see per class.

Realistically only certain members of the community could participate regularly. This would start shifting the community to sort of a status/elite arrangement.

A clique, not a community.

And in fact many yoga studios are a bit of a social club with a certain type of client. So people aren’t just paying for yoga, they’re paying to mix with their own class.

I get it. It feels good, it feels comfortable.

What’s weird is I know if I did those things – if I created an atheltic-elite space – I’d succeed at getting the attendance I need and I’d make money and I could just be part of the gentrifying force that is creeping in to Grays Harbor.

I’m not ever going to do that.

Little Switch will fail and close, before I ever start to create that kind of space.

***

One thing I’ve been learning is: some people really don’t want to mix with “other types” of people. And the snobbery goes both ways by the way, not in whatever direction you”re assuming.

It’s a discouraging thought, but I”m a tenacious person I am going to hang on with my fingernails to the possibility that we can have an integrated community.

Do I worry that Little Switch will fail?

Absolutely.

But understand me here:

I am not worried about not being able to pay my space’s rent. I am not worried about spending hours, days, weeks, months trying to build something – and having it fail.

I’m pretty good at failing.

I am REALLY worried about finding out that at the end of the day, Grays Harbor doesn’t want to be an integrated community.

I just don’t want to learn that, if that’s the truth.

But if that’s the truth, I’m going to have to learn it. I’m going to have to go through all that malarky to find out, and it’s going to crush me a bit, and I’ll crawl out of the muck like the grifty little cockroach I truly am.

Are you wondering how you can help?

The best way you can keep Little Switch going is to join as a Member – whether or not you plan to practice often, or at all.

This best helps me know I can meet expenses, which lets me focus on quality programming.

Membership also helps me BUILD MORE COMMUNITY OUTREACH, because I’m not hustling to pay the bills.

The second-best way you can help, is to apply for a work scholarship – through that same Members link above. Please understand that Little Switch, as simple a premise as it is, takes a lot of overheard and time to run. Anyone willing to put some time in, is helping so much more than they realize! And consistent, reliable help is more important than offering a huge quantity of help. So for instance, someone who shows up once a week to swiffer the floor, and who does this weekly, is worth five-thousand-percent more than someone who just wishes the project well, or Likes my posts on social media. This isn’t because social media is worthless, it is because social media suppresses content unless we pay for ads – something we aren’t doing, and hope to avoid.

The third-best way you can help, is simply to join my email list and try to read my emails when they show up.

I appreciate everyone who has read this post!

***

This little project is more precarious than people may realize. I’m going to give it my best, and hope that others step in.

And for everyone who attends classes – and most especially Members –

Thank you for providing the financial stability we need to survive!

ten reasons I hate flow (and why i’m teaching it anyway)

Yoga flow is so popular it might be THE most popular type of yoga class in America.

However, I have my quibbles – which I’ll share here!

First: what is yoga flow?

Yoga “flow” isn’t very concretely or explicitly described in the mish-mash, hugley historied, highly varied body of yoga practice. But in general, most “flow” in yoga parlance means moving relatively fluidly from one asana (pose) to the next. This can be done slowly and in low-intensity poses or a class so vigorous and strenuous the practice begins to look like gymnastics. And of course – anything in between.

In America, yoga “flow” is often associated with vigorous, sweaty, aerobic movements. It tends toward aerobics. There can be a very fitnessy tone to all of this – some classes pump up the volume with 120 bps pop hits and lots of “push yourselves!” languaging from instructors. That kind of thing.

Here’s why I’ve hated flow – and then I’ll tell you why I’ve ended up offering it anyway:

One: yoga flow isn’t accessible.

I dislike the broad-stroke use of “accessible” these days but, the point applies here.

So let’s take students who want a very swift moving, sweaty class where they get up and get down and all that. Your average flow student.

Well, those activities are prohibitive to many, many practitioners.

You could INVITE anyone at all to such a class and tell them to rest when they need to – but they are likely going to feel left out, frustrated, or even embarassed.

I know what you’re thinking: “Oh, just design an accessible flow.” But no – you can’t just slap the word “accessible” on a class and make it so.

A sweaty, fast, athletic flow and a truly accessible class – where everyone has the time, care, and attention to succeed in each asana – are just diametrically opposed. End of story.

Two: flow sacrifices alignment.

This is deeper and more subtle than you might thinking. Let’s take pristhasana – lizard pose. In lizard pose we come into a deep lunge with our hands on the inside of the forward leg. Back leg can either be lifted, or knee-down.

In lizard many people think the goal is to get their forearms to the ground. So this means they will let the knee travel well past the foot to get that front thigh and hip lower, or they’ll let the forward leg fall open for the same effect.

Some teachers would call that “cheating” the pose but I think that’s a crummy thing to say.

It isn’t that it’s “wrong” to let the knee travel, or to let the hip open so you can get foreamrs closer to teh ground. It’s just a really different benefit and strength exercise than if you’re setting up pristhasana in a more traditional way. Keeping the knee in alignment and welding the front shin to the front arm is very hard work – but it’s beautiful work for the thighs and pelvic floor.

In a slower class, there are opportunities to gently remind students of these possible elements. In fact you can talk about it WHILE you’re in the pose!

In a flow class – there’s no time whatsoever.

Which means:

Three: flow lends itself to injury.

Understand: if you take any class whatsoever, you’ve signed a waiver, you’ve spoken with your trusted practitioner about the suitability of yoga practice. It is your right, responsibility – and freedom! – to care for your body during class. Even the most strenuous, ludicrously athletic class is not to blame for student injury – as long as there is not a nefarious power imbalance (which happens in some yoga guruship situations, sadly).

But.

The truth is, MOST people in a flow class will try to keep up. MOST people in a flow class will get tired and push themselves rather than taking a break. It’s not because they’re bad people or Try Hards. It’s wired into people to try to “keep up with the group”.

So while we risk injury any time we exercise – and we risk injury if we avoid mobility work, as well – I think a swift flow class is a bit more risky than a slow-moving one.

Four: flow classes are hard on the instructor.

There are certainly instructors who like talking nonstop and/or even shouting during class. Most of us however want to practice alongside our students and in concert with our students.

Flow classes generally mean we can’t really be with you the way we can, in a slower class. We have to focus more on what we’re doing as an instructor, rather than how all of us in the room are – well, one!

Five: flow curriculum takes more time to write.

If as an instructor I put together the same flows over and over, students become bored. If I make them too tricky, students become frustrated.

Not to mention I just have to do a lot more designing and writing, simply because a flow class has more asana in it than a slower-paced class.

Now keep in mind it is my job to write curriculum and do I know that. 🙂 However most yoga instructors are already being paid very little by hour. This is why a lot of instructors do the same flows over and over!

 

Six: flow encourages habituated movement – and that can be hard to revise.

I spent about a year in a flow class performing repetitive shoulder motions that ended up causing me relatively serious injury. I’m still recovering – a decade later.

I used to blame the instructor but a few years ago I realized that it wasn’t her fault. There’s no way my $20 tuition – in a room full of people! – could cover personalized, highly technical body mechanics expertise.

The truth is, it’s all well and good to tell someone to “listen to their body” but the me of all those years ago, didn’t know I was doing anything wrong.

It took quite a while for me to build better shoulder motion. I’d habituated myself to poor movement. That’s honestly no one’s “fault”! Not even my own. I didn’t know what I didn’t know.

But it takes a while to fix movement (or lack of movement!) that we’ve trained ourselves in. Flow class doesn’t give us time to refine. (So if you take flow… make sure you’re studying alignment as well!)

Seven: flow foments the fitness hierarchy that so quickly takes hold in many yoga studios.

Most yoga studios aren’t that great to hang out in because you quickly realize there’s kind of the “in crowd” – you know they are young, fit, slim, strong, and wearing the right clothes. Everyone else is a sort of “lesser” practitioner, crumpling into the “easy” yin yoga class in their cheap sweatpants.

It’s not that flow is inherently snobby, it’s that WHEN YOU DESIGN A FLOW CLASS, the jocks are going to show up. That’s cool! I love jocks. Just be careful as some of them have attendant ideas that work against yoga as a whole.

Yoga cliques are interesting. I’ve written about them before!  Of ALL the yoga classes generally offered, flow classes are the ones that lend themselves to cliqueishness – which is why I am wary of them.

***

So if that’s how I feel about it… why am I teaching a flow series?

First and foremost: my Members asked me to! I adore them. They are the REASON we have this beautiful space!

Secondly.

After I thought through my own education and my feelings on the matter – those things I’ve been writing about there –

I realized that I am smart and resourced enough to design a flow class that disrupts or at least ameliorates the harm so often done, in fitspo yoga.

I also realized that by offering a more liberated flow class – I offered healing in more than one auspice!

After all, I’m often bitching and complaining elucidating on the harms in perpetrated in ableist and fitness culture. Why wouldn’t students show up with all kinds of f’d up ideas? Why not engage with these harmful modalities, since they’re already in the room?

I don’t need to avoid the toxicity of some yoga spaces and classes.

I can confront that stuff head on!

(And this post, is a part of that!)

So once again: great big huge booming thanks to my students – who above all, are helping me grow.

I appreciate you –

and I look forward to sweating on the mat with you!

fitspo has gotta go. here’s why:

Toxic fitness culture or “fitspo”, contrary to popular belief, doesn’t inspire us to do better, be better, or even to take care of ourselves.

It instead invites us into harmful hierarchies.

Fitspo encourages us to constantly measure ourselves against the “ideal” – thin, athletic (or strong), white (or aligned with Whiteness), young, able-bodied, depoliticized – and affluent or wealth-adjacent.

Fitspo can be seductive, because who doesn’t want to be part of the in-crowd? This is all the true if you’re in one or more of the classes invited into the (temporary) rewards – if you’re young, thin, athletic/strong, wealth-adjacent, etc. If you fit into the fitspo metric at any time of your life, it’s hard to voluntarily relinquish it’s hold.

Fitspo does more harm than can be summed up in a blog post. One of the worst things fitspo does, is encourage us to purchase experiences rather than commit to constructive personal and communal health practices. We become self-absorbed by our own bodies, our own abilities, our CrossFit identity – what-have-you. We lose sight that we are interconnected. We stop looking around the room to ask – Who isn’t here, and why? Who is not feeling welcome – and why?

Fitspo is one reason people and other marginalized individuals stay away from gyms and exercise classes – whether they want to attend or not, they feel distinctly unwelcome. And why wouldn’t they? They’ve been told their whole lives they are less-than, lacking – or even disgusting.

This has to change.

More harmful still, fitspo is the reason that even if people allow themselves a movement or physical practice – they strain, push themselves, and try to “get the most out of it”.

That striving becomes habituated and soon people come to loathe physical exercise.

***

I once saw an influencer ask, “Would you be so excited about ‘clean eating’ and your workouts if you weren’t allowed to publicly post about them?”

Because fitspo is not just hierarchal – it is performative.

That is some weak shit. It will let you down.

Fitspo is everywhere around us – and enforced by white supremacy and capitalism – but it’s also astonishingly easy to dismantle.

You can invest in something a lot deeper. Over time, fitspo becomes more and more irrelevant in your day-to-day. You are then far more likely to take even better care of your mind, your body – and start doing deeper work in your community.

Each of us has the power – and the responsibility – to overthrow fitspo. You can start small, if it’s too scary to start big!

It’s a wonderful upgrade!

I believe in you.

***

More: “fitspo: what is it, and why does it matter?”

"fitspo culture has gotta go - here's why" on toxic fitness and wellness spaces by Agni Hogaboom of Little Switch Yoga | Grays Harbor Hoquiam Aberdeen Washington
"fitspo culture has gotta go - here's why" on toxic fitness and wellness spaces by Agni Hogaboom of Little Switch Yoga | Grays Harbor Hoquiam Aberdeen Washington

(also note the tag “yoga” yields almost all physical/asana work – no mention of ethics, social observances, pranayama, philosophy, or history. But those are topics for another day!)

Who is welcome, in the fitspo world?

Youthful, slim, athletic (strong), racially and socioeconomically statused individuals are seen as more worthy and more desirable than their counterparts.

Fitspo ties in with our race, our age, our body shape and size, our socioeconomic class. You can’t really separate fitspo from patriarchal and white supremacist constructs.

But perhaps more than anything else, fitspo incorporates and supports ableism.

What is ableism?

Ableism places “well” bodies, “healthy” bodies, and able-bodied individuals as morally, ethically, and pedagogically superior to sick, unhealthy, or disabled individuals.

I don’t need to be a disabilities scholar to spell this one out.

We all know ableism is real, if we are honest.

If we haven’t felt ableism’s sting – well, that is probably because we’ve been operating from our own little bubble. If we haven’t been excluded or maligned, that’s because we fit in, in some way or other.

For instance I’m white; most fitness influencers you see out there, certainly the ones who get acclaim and book deals et cetera – most of them are white. So my entire life, I’ve been in the “in crowd” – at least with regards to race – in the fitness and fitspo world.

I am also able-bodied (at this time in my life) – so again, experiences like mine are spotlighted and held up as the “norm”.

In other ways, I don’t fit in so much. I’m old (at least according to the fitness world) and I’m fat, so in that sense I’m definitely sidelined. (I happen to currently be very strong and bendy – but most people don’t expect that, just by looking at me). I’m nonbinary, and boy oh boy are we excluded from discourse – everywhere!

It should go without saying: we shouldn’t have to be young, fit, thin – any of those things – to be included, welcomed, and supported in the physical movements space.

Aren’t you making a big deal of nothing? Isn’t it a good thing, to want to be in shape?

Sure! Kinda.

There is nothing wrong with working to be stronger, more mobile, and have more energy reserves. There is nothing inherently wrong with a workout!

In fact for the vast majority of human bodies, movement practice is recommended. 

But be careful.

Fitspo can still sidetrack you – even if you have the best of intentions!

Because remember: fitspo is above all about hierarchy, and trying to scramble into a place of cultural acceptance.

Fitspo tells us: we aren’t good enough, unless we’re better than other people.

And if we aren’t worthy, we should be TRYING to get more worthy.

In the fitspo world it is okay to be old, or fat, or not-white, or poor – as long as you’re putting in work to “better yourself”.

So when I say “be careful” I really mean it – because to the extent you buy into fitspo culture, you will suffer. Unfortunately, when we seek to “better ourselves” from a place of loathing, self-hatred, or even a sense of “less than”, lots of crummy things happen:

1. We won’t experience true joy in the process – because we are more focussed on the ends than the means;

2. We have a low tolerance for failure, injury, mishaps or slow progress;

3. We may end up aspiring to something that may not actually be appropriate or even achievable for us;

4. We are hyper-sensitive to what our fitness instructor thinks and/or the sleights (real or imagined) from our fitness community; 

5. After suffering from all the above ^^^ we usually give up on our movement practice, and blame *ourselves* for failing. This perpetuates a cycle of shame, sadness, and even apathy.

***

Trends in fitspo come and go – a few years ago there was a huge emphasis on being STRONG (mostly through weight lifting and so-called “clean” eating) but I’m reliably told that “heroin chic” is going to come back again (particularly with the skyrocketing popularity of Ozempic and other weight loss modalities).

So this month I invite you to look around the yoga space. Who isn’t there? And why are they missing?

Are we doing all we can, to let them know they are welcome?

(My Code of Conduct addresses that, at least in large part!)

I want something better than fitspo for myself, for my yoga space – and for the world at large.

The rest of this month, I’ll talk more about some antidotes to toxic fitness culture – and some constructive action we can take.

Resources:

“yoga” tag search on Instagram

“Understanding toxic fitness culture”, Ninjathlete at Medium.com

“How to talk about disability sensibly and avoid ableist tropes” , Shruti Rajkumar, NPR.org

Jonny Landels, male body image and strength coach

fitspo: what is it, and why does it matter?

This month I’m going to be writing about toxic fitness culture – what I call fitspo. 

It’s important, and hopefully by the end of the post you’ll agree with me.

What is fitspo?

The moniker “fitspo” comes from the instagram tag for “fitness inspiration”. Another interchangeable phrase: toxic fitness culture.

“Fitness” and even “wellness” in America generally means:

  1. slim
  2. able-bodied (or “inspirationally” disabled)
  3. youthful
  4. athletic/strong
  5. white and/or light-skinned
  6. a “positive mindset”
  7. affluent or giving the appearance of wealth and ease

A simple “yoga” tag search for on Instagram, currently our largest social media platform, is illuminating (notice – even the illustrations are skinny!):

"fitspo culture has gotta go - here's why" on toxic fitness and wellness spaces by Agni Hogaboom of Little Switch Yoga | Grays Harbor Hoquiam Aberdeen Washington
"fitspo culture has gotta go - here's why" on toxic fitness and wellness spaces by Agni Hogaboom of Little Switch Yoga | Grays Harbor Hoquiam Aberdeen Washington

(also note the tag “yoga” yields almost all physical/asana work – no mention of ethics, social observances, pranayama, philosophy, or history. But those are topics for another day!)

Who is welcome, in the fitspo world?

Youthful, slim, athletic (strong), racially and socioeconomically statused individuals are seen as more worthy and more desirable than their counterparts.

Fitspo ties in with our race, our age, our body shape and size, our socioeconomic class. You can’t really separate fitspo from patriarchal and white supremacist constructs.

But perhaps more than anything else, fitspo incorporates and supports ableism.

What is ableism?

Ableism places “well” bodies, “healthy” bodies, and able-bodied individuals as morally, ethically, and pedagogically superior to sick, unhealthy, or disabled individuals.

I don’t need to be a disabilities scholar to spell this one out.

We all know ableism is real, if we are honest.

If we haven’t felt ableism’s sting – well, that is probably because we’ve been operating from our own little bubble. If we haven’t been excluded or maligned, that’s because we fit in, in some way or other.

For instance I’m white; most fitness influencers you see out there, certainly the ones who get acclaim and book deals et cetera – most of them are white. So my entire life, I’ve been in the “in crowd” – at least with regards to race – in the fitness and fitspo world.

I am also able-bodied (at this time in my life) – so again, experiences like mine are spotlighted and held up as the “norm”.

In other ways, I don’t fit in so much. I’m old (at least according to the fitness world) and I’m fat, so in that sense I’m definitely sidelined. (I happen to currently be very strong and bendy – but most people don’t expect that, just by looking at me). I’m nonbinary, and boy oh boy are we excluded from discourse – everywhere!

It should go without saying: we shouldn’t have to be young, fit, thin – any of those things – to be included, welcomed, and supported in the physical movements space.

Aren’t you making a big deal of nothing? Isn’t it a good thing, to want to be in shape?

Sure! Kinda.

There is nothing wrong with working to be stronger, more mobile, and have more energy reserves. There is nothing inherently wrong with a workout!

In fact for the vast majority of human bodies, movement practice is recommended. 

But be careful.

Fitspo can still sidetrack you – even if you have the best of intentions!

Because remember: fitspo is above all about hierarchy, and trying to scramble into a place of cultural acceptance.

Fitspo tells us: we aren’t good enough, unless we’re better than other people.

And if we aren’t worthy, we should be TRYING to get more worthy.

In the fitspo world it is okay to be old, or fat, or not-white, or poor – as long as you’re putting in work to “better yourself”.

So when I say “be careful” I really mean it – because to the extent you buy into fitspo culture, you will suffer. Unfortunately, when we seek to “better ourselves” from a place of loathing, self-hatred, or even a sense of “less than”, lots of crummy things happen:

1. We won’t experience true joy in the process – because we are more focussed on the ends than the means;

2. We have a low tolerance for failure, injury, mishaps or slow progress;

3. We may end up aspiring to something that may not actually be appropriate or even achievable for us;

4. We are hyper-sensitive to what our fitness instructor thinks and/or the sleights (real or imagined) from our fitness community; 

5. After suffering from all the above ^^^ we usually give up on our movement practice, and blame *ourselves* for failing. This perpetuates a cycle of shame, sadness, and even apathy.

***

Trends in fitspo come and go – a few years ago there was a huge emphasis on being STRONG (mostly through weight lifting and so-called “clean” eating) but I’m reliably told that “heroin chic” is going to come back again (particularly with the skyrocketing popularity of Ozempic and other weight loss modalities).

So this month I invite you to look around the yoga space. Who isn’t there? And why are they missing?

Are we doing all we can, to let them know they are welcome?

(My Code of Conduct addresses that, at least in large part!)

I want something better than fitspo for myself, for my yoga space – and for the world at large.

The rest of this month, I’ll talk more about some antidotes to toxic fitness culture – and some constructive action we can take.

Resources:

“yoga” tag search on Instagram

“Understanding toxic fitness culture”, Ninjathlete at Medium.com

“How to talk about disability sensibly and avoid ableist tropes” , Shruti Rajkumar, NPR.org

Jonny Landels, male body image and strength coach

“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!

We are now at the historic Vasa Hall!

Nothing ever is as hard as keeping good news to myself so when I tell you I have been BURSTING AT THE SEAMS trying to contain myself!

As of February, Little Switch Yoga will be operating at the historic Vasa Hall in Hoquiam.

Not to sound trite, but –

This is a dream come true for me!

I was very, very particular about the space I would take on.

The Vasa Hall is an incredible historic space in Hoquiam that has a long history – not just in regards to the original Swedish Vasa oganization, but in later iterations as a significant music venue.

It’s almost a hundred years old!

And yes, I went to high school dances there in its tenure as a Moose Hall! 

I am sad to say that so many historic buildings here are left to rot and die – not because we locals do not love our history but because we are an economically-depressed area, and it costs a lot of money to keep these buildings up.

Fortunately, a local construction group acquired the Vasa and has restored and upgraded it beautifully – absolutely beautifully! I am in good company next to the Red Cedar, Solid Coffee, and The Hive –  and we have another business taking up residence soon!

***

As for me?

My family goes deep, here in Hoquiam. My great grandparents settled here to start a family. Great-grandpa was an entrepreneur who lived and worked just a few blocks away from this very Hall. He was a titan of (tiny little) Hoquiam and flew the first mail plane to the Harbor!

I am a fourth-generation Hoquiam entrepreneur and I’m so proud of this.

I am also proud of the TYPE of enterprise I am bringing.

It’s different than anything we’ve previously had.

[gulp!]

My yoga space will prioritize constructive community effort, mental, emotional and physical strength-building, JOY, and the sacred space of interpersonal connection.

I will also host the only sliding-scale yoga business in the whole Harbor.

This is a big leap for me.

And I will be honest: I’m kind of nervous!

But it’s time for me to make a move!

Please keep your eyes peeled and your ears pricked –

Because I’m canvasing the community (survey below)! –

And one of the best ways you can help, is to fill out that survey and check “yes” to staying on my email list!

***

A few more words.

Just last night after Sunday group I talked to two of my students. One of them said she almost started crying at the way I gave each student “permission” to stop pushing themselves in a certain pose.

We talked for a while – it felt so good to talk about something I love so much! – and I finally said:

“It takes time to overcome fitspo culture.”

I’ve talked about fitspo before. I’m not here to go on at length now.

But what I will say is this:

The reason people know yoga is good for them – but don’t make time to practice – is because we’ve been squeezed out of our own life.

We don’t deeply believe we deserve good things.

Maybe we know – IN THEORY – that we deserve good things.

But our actions show that we don’t make time for them.

Now – 

I can’t change someone’s mind, or someone’s priorities.

All I can do is offer up the absolutely best-engineered space possible for this wholesomeness, this blooming, this joy and electricity to flourish!

And that’s my commitment.

I hope I succeed.

I hope I can pay rent.

By the end of the year, I hope to pay myself even a little.

But.

I can only do my best.

Can I count on you for your support?

***

Another note: I simply cannot overstate my gratitude to Maija Nordin and Gayle Russell for letting Little Switch have a home in 2023. Without business owners helping me rent at a low price-point, I could not have built a practice that let me step into Big Boy rent.

As for Big Boy rent!

My expenses have gone UP, and within the next few weeks you’ll see my class offerings going up, as well.

I’ve been studying, crafting, and modeling several options AND I now have a survey!

Please trust I have worked very hard and put a lot of thought AND taken professional advice.

What I could use from YOU, is your feedback.

So please please, take time to fill out the survey!

You can do so, here!

This will help us all so much.

***

Finally:

I am so, so grateful for everyone who attended class in my studio in 2023! Each of you has a special surprise coming your way before the month is up! Make sure to stay on my email list and keep your eyes open!

I am so excited about this new move. It’s a BIG move and I know I’m bringing my best self. It’s time to let the community come together in a bigger way!

“yoga is for the willing, not the flexible”

Two of the biggest misconceptions I hear about yoga asana are:

1. Yoga is light stretching; and

2. Yoga is for peaceful, serene people

I’d like to address misconception #1 today – and get around to misconception #2 soon.

Yoga is not about “stretching” –

and you don’t need to be flexible to practice.

I heard it said a while back (and I’m not sure who to credit):

“Yoga is for the willing, not the flexible.”

I love that!

***

Listen – people associate yoga so much with “stretching” that they think the whole purpose is to be nice and bendy.

In fact we yoga teachers hear it all the time:

“I’d love to take yoga but I’m not flexible!”

So listen:

You get (more) flexible (and strong) by PRACTICING YOGA.

And even bendy people are often working hard in class, too!

I mean –

Do you really think that yoga practitioners are mostly just posing and showing off stuff that comes easily to us?

(Hint: not really!)

Yoga asana helps us GET strong, BECOME more flexible, and GAIN mobility.

To wit: I am forty-six years old and I can do things my body has never done before!

But I wouldn’t be here, if I hadn’t practiced.

Yoga GAINS you those things.

Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly.

And I encourage you not to compare yourself to others – ever.

Because there will always be someone stronger, more flexible, wearing more stylish yoga gear, someone younger – all that stuff.

I want to know if YOU want to feel better in your body, mind and spirit?

If so – 

Yoga may be just for you!

Remember:

You can practice yoga anywhere, anytime. Yoga doesn’t only “count” if you have a certain ability level, or if you practice a certain way, or for a certain duration.

ALL YOGA COUNTS.

My job as an instructor is to help YOU start to have fun in your practice!

Once you start enjoying yoga asana, you’ll come back.

And you’ll be on your way to reducing stress, feeling better, strengthening your body and your mind – 

and just chilling out a bit more!

It takes time, and it takes patience.

But time is passing anyway.

If you’re on my page, it’s probably because you want to make the most of our precious time on this green planet!

And I for one, am ready to practice WITH you!

See you soon!

– Agni

***

* A reminder!

“Yoga” means all eight limbs of yoga – a lot more than poses or a workout.

But for this particular post, I’m talking about yoga asana – the THIRD LIMB of yoga.

what if a yoga class is too hard?

If you are reading here you probably already know that not every yoga class is meant to be one of exertion: vigorous, sweaty, challenging, et cetera.

There are so many modalities of yoga – including Yin, Restorative, and Nidra for instance – that don’t really have what we might consider a “workout” type component.

However – many yoga classes – which are really asana classes, that is the Third Limb of Yoga, the poses – many yoga classes engage in these physical postures, whether moving slowly and holding asana or moving swiftly (sometimes called flow, vinyasa, or “power yoga” – more on why I don’t love that latter phrase, at a later date).

People who’ve gone to a yoga class or two, generally know that yoga is harder than it looks.

For example:

Last Monday’s class was a bit vigorous – to be honest, my go-to favorite style of class – and afterwards I noticed several students were sweating and saying – while SMILING, I might add – that the class was challenging. “I almost died!”  – followed by good-natured laughter.

Okay.

That’s fine. And fun!

But.

I think I want to touch on this because it’s kind of a personal thing and it’s worth saying.

***

Yoga can be hard or not-hard and YOU are the boss of that.

One of the goals with yoga, is to make yoga a regular thing that fits in with your life.

Maybe that means once a year you take a de-stressing workshop, using yoga pranayama.

Maybe that means three times a week you go to a sweaty hatha and vinyasa flow: building strength and mobility.

Or anything in between.

Remember: yoga is here for YOU. You don’t owe a dang thing to any particular teacher, studio, school, or yoga modality.

Yoga is here for YOU.

So when it comes to a class that’s “too hard” – or a class that stretches your limit –

that may, in fact, work for you.

It works for me!

Let me elaborate – again, speaking just for ME, personally:

I love classes that are a challenge, and I love watching my body become stronger, more mobile, more flexible, more open.

I love that I can lift my arms above my shoulders to reach things on high shelves.

I love how strong and open my back and neck feel, since practicing yoga.

And the truth is, I wouldn’t have these results if I wasn’t challenging myself in difficult classes.

But:

There is another – perhaps deeper – reason I love challenging classes.

When I take a difficult class, my mind is forced into the present moment.

I can’t possibly bring my mental baggage, my fears, my grievances, my upsets – 

Maybe they’re with me when I’m driving to class, or even while I roll out my mat. 

Maybe even while I’m trying to compose myself in our first restful pose.

But my mental preoccupations won’t last long in a challenging class.

In a challenging class, very soon I am focusing on my body, tuning into both my interoception and proprioception (those are real and scientific concepts), I am sweating a little or even shaking, I am feeling frustration and elation in turns, I am feeling SO amazed by my own body, I am feeling various emotions about the instructor 🙂 – 

In short, in a challenging class I am GUARANTEED to get “out of my head” and into my body, in a very big way.

The benefits I experience from this physical, mental and emotional reset cannot be overstated.

So while I do also love Yin, Restorative, Nidra – or just a good old fashioned gentle stretching class –

For me, strength-building classes, and especially those that involve creativity, mobility work and laughter – 

these are going to be CORE in my life for a long time to come.

***

But here’s the thing.

YOU are not ME.

YOU have your own needs.

Perhaps you are recovering from illness, surgery, or any kind of difficult situation – and you just aren’t ready to vigorously engage.

Maybe you’ve been traumatized by the world of fitspo, orthorexia, fatphobia and fitness worship.

Perhaps you live with chronic illness, or any kind of situation that means your resources are extra low – right now, or for a while.

And while maybe a vigorous class is JUST the right medicine for someone in those situations –

maybe it’s not right for YOU.

I encourage YOU to find a yoga class – in person, online, with a friend, from a book or a YouTube channel – 

that works for YOU and where you are today.

I encourage you – do not try to compare, or “keep up” with someone else, or any of that.

It can be scary to not only be honest about your needs – but to accept your needs, and move forward with self-compassion.

It can be scary sometimes because sometimes we don’t know what we want, or what we need.

But I’ll tell you something I know for sure:

You won’t know, until you try something new.

***

Now coming up here in November, I have a gratitude series.

If this is something you’d like to try – 

well, please sign up!

We’d love to see you.

And above all I’d like to to find whatever modality – yoga or otherwise – 

gives you that sense of play, that foundation of purpose.

I wish that for you, very much.

six ways to dismantle a fitspo mindset

One of the hardest things to dismantle when it comes to anything like physical exercise is a fitspo mindset.
 
That includes a sort of defensiveness and self-consciousness about one’s abilities (or lack thereof).
 
We have been indoctrinated to feel bad about ourselves.
 
Like if we eat two slices of cake (or three, or four, or the whole cake) we’re a bad person. If we sit and watch ours of mindless telly instead of doing the dishes or going for a wlak, we’re lazy. If we’re not as disciplined or as put-together as someone else (seems to be), then they’re a better person than us.
 
This all leads us to feel rather sorry for ourselves and, sadly, SHRINK into ourselves a bit more. 
 
Well I can’t fix ANY of this for you but I can tell you I’ve fixed – or improved – a lot of this within myself.
 
It took years.
 
In my case, I had to learn, deep-down learn that I was going to love and treasure myself, NO MATTER WHAT.
 
This is such hard work and also so much PATIENT and persistent work, I certainly don’t have time to write it all out now!
 
Here are six practices that might help you dismantle these kinds of fitspo attitudes.

1. Recognize fitspo is real.

It’s going to be a lot easier to change how we feel if we recognize how much we’re up against. Our entire culture and most of our familial culture values thinness, weight loss, youth, whiteness, those kinds of things. It’s huge, it’s massive, it’s everywhere. If we acknowledge this presence and power we may appreciate our successes – however small they may seem – all the more.

2. Ask yourself if you truly want to change.

When we actively reject fitspo, we actively reject the fantasies that come with it. We also dismantle the fitspo privileges we have – if we are thin, able-bodied, white, young, cisgender. We still BENEFIT from those privileges, but we actively work to dismantle them. This is a lot of work. So ask yourself if you’re ready!
 

3. Soften – and widen – your gaze.

Fitspo encourages us to make it all about US. We are jealous, defensive, we start this strange self-absorbed cycle where we ruminate on all the wrongs and unfairnesses against us, and we stop SEEING the beauty and hard work that other people show up with. Fitspo wants us in this place – it doesn’t want us to really LISTEN to and value others.
 

4. Mind your business!

So speaking specifically about yoga. I had a teacher that used to say, “Mind your mat!” In other words, pay attention to YOUR mat and your body. Don’t try to “copy” the instructor or other students, don’t strain, don’t compare.
 
I love looking at the other practitioners who can do amazing things. Some of the things they can do… well maybe one day I can do them too! But sometimes it’s pretty obvious I’ll never do what they can do! (For reference: check out my friend thetysonedwards on Instagram!)
 
I should not diminish other practitioners’ beauty, joy and practice by relentlessly comparing it to my own!
 

5. Commit to loving yourself – even if you’re faking it!

I had to act AS IF I loved myself, for a long time before I felt it.
 
And some days it’s a struggle!
 
But I’m so committed to myself and my love of feeling better, stronger, and feeling happier –
That I won’t give away my own joy by comparing, or (the twin cousin): getting defensive, making excuses, lapsing into self-pity.
 
It took me years to get to a better place. And I re-commit regularly.
 

6. Give yourself props!

Please remember fitspo is just another entrenchment of white supremacist capitalism. Fitspo actually isn’t personal, rather a system that wants you to feel despondent, disempowered – and wants you to SPEND MONEY out of your rut. Resist! In fact your very resistance is a loving commitment, and it is very brave work!
 
***
Okay peeps – thank you for reading and thank you for being a part of my community!
 
 

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!

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