September 8, 2012

From Office Hell to Yoga Heaven. ~ Miri McDonald

Book Review

*Note: the author received this book for free in return to review the said offering. That said, she says what she wants—good and bad, happy and sad.

If you’ve been sitting in your cubicle dreaming up yoga sequences, Leah Kim’s From Office Hell to Yoga Heaven was written for you. Not only will you relate to Leah’s story but you will come away with the feeling that you really can become a yoga teacher.

Making a career change less scary

Like Leah, many yoga teachers have made the transition from corporate life. The thought of leaving the safety of a job you know, along with wasting the time and money spent on education, can make anyone think twice about changing careers. Leah helps the reader see the baby steps that will make it happen.

Knowing when you are ready

Leah makes no assumptions about the reader’s knowledge of becoming a teacher, which can feel a bit simplistic for those who are already moving towards that goal. On the flip side, her advice can validate choices and for those yet to take the first step, rest assured everything is spelled out to include a top 10 list of steps to take.

I particularly like how Leah addressed whether a teacher has to be able to do every pose. Harkening back to a conversation she had with her teacher, Ally Hamilton, Leah said something I think many budding teachers have said:

But I can’t do a handstand in the middle of the room yet.” Ally tells her, “You know teaching has nothing to do with that. You have a great practice but more importantly you’re living this stuff, and you get it. You’re totally ready.”

There are different philosophies on this, but this will resonate with a lot of readers. Yes, it’s impressive to see teachers do advanced poses but what’s more powerful is to see that they are on the journey just like everyone else.

Making the transition slowly

Kim discusses some common career change principles, such as not quitting your day job right away, building up experience, crafting your resume and asking for recommendations from well-established practitioners in your field. These critical steps will build confidence in your ability to make the change.

Do’s and Don’t’s

Kim’s Do’s and Don’t’s list get at the heart of honing your craft as a teacher. She talks about the use of language, the power of silence, importance of eye contact and challenges the reader to let go of some common hang-ups such as class counts and comparison with other teachers.

How to make money doing what you love

I’ve met a lot of yoga teachers who also have a “day job” to put the proverbial food on the table. Kim shows the reader that they can make money teaching yoga if they are willing to think outside the yoga studio box. This can be an eye-opener for yogis that see the studio as the “be all end all” in teaching gigs.

Kim steps through ways a teacher can expand her resume and teach around the community. For example, a beach yoga class, private sessions, gyms or other fitness centers, corporate classes and more. It was neat to learn how Kim landed her Nike yoga ambassador role although I wished she spent a bit more time talking about what that job entails. However, it helped to convey her overall takeaway message that yoga can be a full-time career.

Patience and a positive mindset go a long way

Kim pushes aspiring teachers to have confidence in their ability to live their dreams, a positive outlook about their journey and to have patience with the process, their students and most importantly, themselves.


Miri McDonald works in strategic communications, is a mom to two young boys, wife to a fabulous husband and a yogini on and off the mat. She earned her 200 hour teaching certification in 2005 from Tranquil Space Yoga in Washington, DC. Miri lives in Madison, WI where she eats too much cheese, enjoys the famed WI farmers markets and runs with her crazy black labrador. She tweets at @mirimcdonald.




Editor: Seychelles Pitton

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