March 19, 2013

The Yoga of Scrubbing Toilets. ~ Dana Carter

How do you take your yoga off your mat and into the world?

One of the ways I bring my yoga off the mat is by cleaning other people’s toilets!

Let’s be honest: unless you are a part of a select group of teachers, yoga does not make you rich—this is something that most teacher training programs neglect to tell you. However, I don’t really blame them: “Oh and by the way, if you are trying to make a good living teaching yoga it is far from easy,” doesn’t exactly draw people into a yoga teacher training program.

I am lucky to live in a city that has a ton of studios and a huge array of teacher training programs to choose from. That also means that there are a ton of other yoga teachers looking for opportunities. Now don’t get me wrong—I think the more people that do and teach yoga the better. It does make for fewer teaching openings.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in a room of people, and when I tell them that I teach, one or two other people say they are or were yoga teachers as well.

I don’t make a lot of money teaching yoga and that doesn’t bother me in the slightest. Yoga is my passion. I am driven to teach, and share it with others and I can’t imagine my life without it.

That being said, at this point I do need another part-time job to supplement my income.

When I decided to leave my full-time-high-paying management job, and pursue yoga and fitness, I was terrified but determined to find something meaningful.

I ended up working for my sister-in-law as a house cleaner. At first it was okay; a change in routine but then the sore back, wrists, fingers, and neck set in from the prolonged scrubbing and new positions I was subjecting my body too. I began to resent it. I was frustrated with the way I felt and my ego was upset that I was scrubbing other people’s porcelain.

There was a short period where I was wondering if I had made the right decision to leave my high paying, completely unrewarding, career.

Then I began to incorporate meditating on feelings of gratitude for having enough money to live comfortably, gratitude for the flexibility the job provided me, more time to spend with my daughter, focusing on how the clients feel when they came home to a clean house and the relief they expressed.

That is where it all changed for me.

I love yoga because it allows me to serve others and stay in a compassionate and joyful frame of mind.

Cleaning houses provides me with the same opportunity when I viewed it from a place of gratitude. I saw this clearly when one day as I was cleaning an older lady’s toilet. She was so grateful to us for our services, as she was unable to clean her own house and just for the chance to have someone to talk too.

I realized I was serving others while cleaning and my ego was in the way of me recognizing it. Not to mention I have started doing what I jokingly call “toilet yoga” throughout the day to keep my body tension free. Nothing like half-lotus squat while cleaning a toilet or a separate-leg-forward-fold while scrubbing a tub to keep you smiling!

Turns out cleaning gave me the opportunity to look at the way I am viewing things.

I now realize that if you diffuse your tasks with gratitude, whether cleaning your own home, finishing up an assignment for school or writing your next yoga class it becomes a joyful process. This is now an essential part of my yoga practice on and off of my mat.

Here’s to relieved smiles, toilet yoga, and sparkly porcelain!


Dana is a Yoga and Pilates teacher in Victoria BC. Her passion for Yoga began in the late ninety’s. It only took one class and she knew she had found what was missing in her life. Having struggled with self-esteem and anxiety issues, she threw herself into her yoga practice; a path to self acceptance was what she discovered. Knowing the powerful transformations yoga can initiate, she now teaches others to share the love. In her classes she offers detailed alignment cues, compassion and joy all spiked with her quirky sense of upbeat humor. Prepare to thoroughly work your body and mind with an emphasis on the connection they share and leave feeling tranquil and empowered. When Dana is not teaching you can find her blogging, painting, and cooking healthy vegan meals for her family. Feel free to follow Dana on her Twitter @pannayoga, Facebook and her website for more.


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