March 1, 2012

Where Do You Turn When Your Yoga Teacher Explodes? ~ Kat Robinson

Recently I have been a little out of sorts.

My husband and I both own our own businesses. He is a general contractor and I own Active Kat Yoga. Owning your own business has it’s advantages. You can take a day off, or if you need to go in late or leave early occasionally you can without incident. It also has it’s disadvantages, no paid vacations, and you never seem to be able to take a day off or leave early or come in late. The biggest disadvantage, however, is that there is no one else to pass the buck to because it stops with you. We found that out when we were notified of a good old fashioned IRS audit, in which an IRS officer comes to your place of business and begins to look at every aspect of your life. Truly, it was worse than a colonoscopy!

With my husband being in construction and that industry being one of the hardest hit in the economic crisis, times have been tough. Did the IRS care? Nope! We were hit with a much higher tax bill than expected, and the agent turned to me and let me know in no uncertain terms that my yoga studio was basically a boil on the butt of the government. She didn’t say it in those terms but she did say my business was losing money.

I was crushed.

I have been in business for 10 years. I have put my heart and soul into building a business so others have a place to come in and relax. I have made lots of lifelong friends, and hope that I have been a comfort when they have gone through illnesses, family crisis and—worst of all—deaths of loved ones. To even think about shutting down my studio has been so trying as it’s also been a place of celebrations for birthdays, anniversaries and achievements.

So I got up Monday morning went to work, smiled and tried to be as positive as I could be. But by Thursday morning, my enthusiasm was failing. So what did I do? I did what any self respecting yoga teacher would do, I went to my 8:30 am class and fell apart all over everyone! The reactions from my students ranged from pity, to being angry that I would do such a thing to ruin their class. Most of them were shocked!

I went upstairs to my apartment and did what any self-respecting yoga teacher would do. I made a “brunch” that looked like it was straight from Paula Deen’s new cookbook and drowned my sorrows in good old-fashioned down home Southern comfort food.


Then I took a walk. Fortunately, I live within walking distance from a beautiful serene but quietly dangerous river. As I sat near the river with my Pomeranian, Snuggz, I watched as a branch came floating by and got stuck in some rapids. It almost looked as though it was holding on for dear life. I know it was just a stick but it kind of looked like me in the rapids of life trying to hold on.

That is also what we yoga teachers do, we look for the metaphors in life and apply them.

I sat there for some time, saying “Hold on! Hold on!” A few times it dipped down into the water and one point I thought it was gone for good, but it eventually popped back up and floated out of the rapids. It was a good reminder to me that sometimes holding on is not the best thing to do, I say everyday in my classes, “Don’t grip, just let go.” So why was this so hard for me to do?

For one reason and one reason alone: I am human! If that stick is a metaphor for my life, as soon as it let go, the waters eventually calmed and it quietly went with the flow.

Yoga teaches us when to let go and when to hold on. That stick taught me that if I hold my grip too tight, I will be taken down. If I just relax and go with the flow, I will eventually come to calm waters. Life is a series of choices. I’m choosing to go with the flow.

I have so many people who depend on me everyday to make their day a little brighter, and  I need them as much as they need me. I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have my students everyday to help me smile.
I have to make some decisions and some of them may not be easy but I do know that Active Kat Yoga will most likely be here tomorrow and the tomorrow after that and so on. I have never taken out a loan to run my business, and my husband didn’t ask for a bailout like so many huge corporations got. We  simply got up every morning, went to work and made the most of day. That is what I intend to do.

I hope I never explode on my students again but if I do I refuse to beat myself up for it. We all need encouragement, we all need to feel appreciated, we all need to realize we are only mere mortals.

As far as the IRS goes, until I just cannot pay you I will be here. Come on in if the day gets too tough. Everyone is always welcome in my studio, even the IRS!


Prepared by Aminda Courtwright/Editor: Kate Bartolotta.

Kat Robinson is the owner of Active Kat Yoga and the author of  “I Almost Died! Reinventing Yourself With Yoga and Meditation After Traumatic Illness or Injury.” She and her husband Brett live in the beautiful Missouri Ozarks where they are “reinventing” a 100 year old hospital into their home and studio. She is an avid embroiderer and is the developer of Sewing Yoga, a therapeutic yoga program for those who sew or work at a desk for extended periods of time. She also self-produced the corresponding DVD Sewing Yoga.

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