This is my mat in its new home, a place where I will stay and teach for the next six days. A five-star hotel called Bayit BaGalil, House in the Galilee, it is nestled in the hills above the mystical city of Safed and to the west of Lake Tiberias. A two-plus-hour drive from Raanana, the fortress-looking hotel is up a long, steep two-way drive in the mountains, overlooking and surrounded by tall trees and endless green, a not so common sight in Israel in the heat of the summer.
In my new temporary home, I am free to roam, eat, sleep, watch TV, take a bath, swim, walk, mountain bike, treat myself to a spa service or explore the area by car. When I am not teaching.
One day in May I awakened to an email from one of my yoga students. Subject line: What’s your phone number? Body: Have a work proposal I wanted to discuss. Intrigued, I responded as quickly as I could. An event planner, she was organizing a week-long stay in the north for a multi-generational American family flying in for a special event. Was I interested in closing up my studio, displacing myself and being the in-house yoga instructor, and if so, could I submit a proposal? P.S. Could I also teach a water movement class?
In my proposal, I suggested sunrise yoga, family yoga and partner yoga. I also offered journaling on a nature walk, thinking the family might enjoy writing about their experiences. And water movement was doable as I have been attending a class every Monday since I got my cast removed last October. It feels like a mix of yoga, aerobics and dance, exercise modalities that I know or have done and love.
On May 5th I submitted my proposal and the next morning I awakened to an acceptance email stating that I would be teaching one to two classes a day of either yoga or water movement. “You can sit by the pool in the sun all day after class,” my student said. When I told her that’s not my style, she said, “Then go get a massage!”
When we met to finalize details early July, I understood I would also be leading a nature walk if anyone was so inclined. Then, by the time we arrived on Thursday mid-July to the hotel, I was listed as Jennifer Lang, private yoga instructor, who can lead yoga, water yoga or nature hikes. I laughed aloud, wondering when I’d morphed from perceiving myself as a pure-yoga instructor to being perceived as a yoga-plus instructor.
Since receiving my certification ten years ago last April, I have taught in many different places to many different populations: Gilda’s Club to people whose lives have been touched by cancer, Sunday morning family yoga, mother-daughter, husband-wife, a 40-something birthday brunch with yoga, a little girl birthday party with red light, green light, TREE, as well as pre- and post-natal.
But since being here, in Israel, the place where I didn’t want to be, I have been exposed to so much more. A year ago May, I taught a group of childhood friends from Belgium who flew in for a 40th birthday bash and wanted Saturday sunset yoga at the beach. I taught Jewish and Arab Muslim teens at our local park. I have been assisting an American instructor in her oversubscribed class at Ella Yoga in Tel Aviv, returning to my Iyengar roots. I’ve been filmed for a weight loss video series in English and more recently for an up and coming prenatal i-phone app. Soon, I hope to add teaching yoga to Israel Defense Forces to my repertoire. And now this, an all-expense paid week of work, which feels more like vacation, for some of the 27 family members, ranging in age from three months to 99 years.
This thing called yoga, which for some is a purely physical form of exercise and for others, a more meditative practice, is taking me on a new journey. And I hope to continue to follow it wherever it leads.
Note: Philippe and the girls and I are going to Thailand, back before school starts later in August. Enjoy the rest of summer!