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For those of us who squeeze in yoga classes at either end of the work day, it’s easy to envy our teachers’ jobs. They spend all day meditating, breathing, and doing asanas, right? Wrong. Lots of instructors have one foot in the workaday world and the other in the yoga studio.
Katherine Hapke, 39, first turned to yoga for stress relief when she was a vice president of three corporations in Los Angeles. Hapke now teaches Ashtanga to beginners twice a week at a local gym in Hood River, Oregon, where she lives with her husband and baby, and manages Rono, the running apparel manufacturing company she and her husband own. Teaching yoga allows Hapke time for herself, a rare commodity with a toddler and a busy manufacturing plant to manage. “It’s my 90 minutes, twice a week, of not having to deal with anything else but yoga.”
Teaching yoga helps keep Thalia Davies of Bend, Oregon, connected to her former profession. After years of working as a licensed somatic psychotherapist, she is currently an executive recruiter for the aerospace and automotive industries. “I fell into this job, and it’s turned out to be very profitable,” says Davies, who studied Iyengar Yoga in India. “So, financially, I don’t need to teach yoga, but now that I spend my days in the corporate world, teaching is more important than ever.”
Though working two jobs isn’t easy, Barrett Lauck doesn’t teach yoga for the money either. Lauck works full-time for a nonprofit company, Coalition on New Office Technology, that consults on occupational safety, health education, and training out of Boston, Massachusetts. She also teaches yoga at a few health centers.
Lauck spends her days with computer users who suffer from repetitive strain injuries (RSI)associated with office work. “I see people hunched over their desks, holding the phone in the crook of their necks. I never thought my yoga practice and teaching would have much to do with this job. But I was wrong!” says Lauck.
And her “day job” has changed the way she sees her yoga students. “As I watch people in action at their jobs,” says Lauck, “I understand the sources of tightness and discomfort that so many of my students come to class with.”