Leena’s Learning Break

This post is from QSY Director, Leena Miller Cressman about her plans to take a 6-week break from teaching. Leena will be back to teaching January 12. In the meantime, all her classes will still be on the schedule, and will be taught by our other excellent teachers. You can check out the live schedule here.

I love teaching. I love guiding folks through these embodiment explorations we call yoga. I love watching a student take a deeper breath, or release tension from their jaw. I love seeing the exhilaration on someone’s face when they kick up to their first handstand. I love the peaceful, resonant sound of a whole group singing the sound of Aum at the end of class.

Getting to teach yoga as a profession, and lead our community at QSY is an enormous privilege.

When you love something deeply, it can be easy to forget that you still need breaks and healthy boundaries. You still need time to refresh and explore things from a new perspective.

I recently had a great conversation with a university professor friend of mine. I shared with her that it felt challenging to juggle the administrative work of running the studio, teaching public classes, workshops and yoga teacher training, and also make space for research and development and learning. Without much time for my own learning, it was feeling difficult to be as refreshed and innovative as I’d like to be when I teach. She pointed out that this is the precise reason for sabbaticals in the academic world. Every three years or so, tenured academics get a period where they are free from their teaching load, they lessen their administrative duties, and they get to pour themselves wholeheartedly into their research and learning. Since I don’t have a PhD I’ll just call what I need a “learning break.”

As of Nov 23, I’ll be taking a 6-week break from teaching. Tenured professors get 6 months, but baby-steps are needed when you own your own business! First, I’ll be travelling for a week to spend time with my family. After my trip, I’ll be resuming my administrative work for the studio, but taking more time by myself to practice, think, feel and reflect. That might include reading, laying on a bolster and breathing deeply, going on long hikes to contemplate my existence and my hip flexors, going to community acupuncture, doing research and attending yoga classes with our other fabulous teachers at QSY. The plans for all of this came about somewhat quickly this time, but we are thinking of ways for our long-term full-time staff to have more substantial learning breaks every few years so we have the chance to re-kindle our endurance, learning and commitment in order to better serve our students and ourselves.

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I have to give a HUGE shout-out to our amazing staff at QSY. Without such a supportive community of teachers and staff, this time of renewal wouldn’t be possible for me. And, an equally big “Thank You” to all my students. Some of you have been practicing with me consistently, for seven or eight years! I’ll see you again in January, or maybe I’ll even be practicing beside you in a class sometime sooner. I’ll still be around in the office, and I’m available to answer questions, feedback or concerns about the studio, so feel free to get in touch with me. I hope that this season of holidays and long cozy evenings offers renewal, relaxation, and time for rekindling the spirit for all of you.

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Leena Miller Cressman is the director of Queen Street Yoga. Right now she’s in love with practicing the Tensegrity Repair Series, handstands and doing gentle twists over her bolster. You’ll also find her cruising around on her rusty but trusty bike, and tending to her community garden plot full of arugula, kale, and basil.

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