My name is Renée LeBlanc and I teach yoga. About fifteen years ago I had taken a couple of yoga classes here and there (wasn’t impressed) but then a guy in my office said, “my wife teaches yoga at this place and I think you’d love it.” He was higher up than me so I said, “I’ll try it out this weekend for sure thank you!” That was the first time I thought about quitting my job. I wanted to have something to talk to the VP that Monday so, I went to the class.
The first thing I noticed was that everyone had long muscles, seemed incredibly calm and had excellent posture. Also, I was the only one wearing socks. That class was the birth of my practice that has continued without any sabbatical until this day and I hope never stops. It seemed that everyone in the class was smaller than me but they were all stronger than me. Part of what made me go back the next day was a sense of competitiveness (that I’ve long since learned to let go of but which served its purpose at the time) – I needed to be as strong as these people and they seemed to be holding some sort of secret “yoga key” to strength and flexibility I didn’t have.
But there was an even stronger pull: I had been a ballet dancer and, when I quit classical ballet in my teens, I resigned myself to the fact I’d never be in that “zone” again – that place where time and space are irrelevant and your mind and body are in perfect sync and you feel like if you really wanted to, you could fly. But about 10 minutes into the class, and many years since the last time I had felt it, I was back in that zone and it lasted until the end of the class.
But it was better than ballet – the goal was my overall well-being and not the position or how I looked. My goal when I teach is to get people IN THAT ZONE. It’s a place where you can’t think of your office or your ipad or you’ll fall down. It’s a place that nourishes you inside and out and it’s !@#$ing great.
A typical “day in the life”
6a’ish – Wake up, hit snooze button.
6:30a – Get out of bed and either go for a run outside or at the gym (I can be really wimpy about the weather and will run inside any chance I get.) I think I love listening to music even more than I love the actual running but it’s a wonderful, meditative time that I make sure I do about three times a week.
8a – Water with lemon and more and more water. Then, espresso! I love that little shot of coffee and I look forward to the ritual of making it every day. Also I usually have some Ezekiel bread with soy butter or almond butter. While I have my breakfast, I answer emails, Facebook stuff and, work on upcoming retreats or workshops.
10a – Around this time I usually teach private students. I’ve recently decreased the number of private students I teach. I love my students and want them to be able to expect a lot from me and I finally understood that if I have too many students, I’m unhappy and the quality suffers. My classes are rigorous and demanding of focus and concentration from both the teacher and the student.
Noon – 2p – I try to read or do a little writing and play with my parakeet Paloma. I also try to practice French and Italian (I’m very bad at both. I recently downloaded the app “Duolingo” and I can’t recommend it highly enough / forced practice!)
2p – Home practice. I’m a big believer in practicing on your own especially if you’re a teacher. It’s my time to create and learn and do whatever practice I need. The practice I do for myself will be the basis for the classes I teach for the next day or two. I try to take public classes at least once a week – I’m pretty good at challenging myself but it’s just as important to listen to other teachers and to be a STUDENT. Also. Paloma does not like me to be upside-down so she flies around my feet when I’m in handstand and it drives me crazy because I’m in handstand a lot.
5p-8 or 9p – teach classes. I teach primarily at Back Bay Yoga and it has been the best thing for me personally and professionally. The students bring unbelievably great energy and love to their practices. I owned a yoga studio from 2005-2013. It was great and tough and educational and frustrating and exhilarating and everything in between and, after 8 years, it was time to move on so I sold my company and was lucky enough to be put in touch with Lynne (owner of Back Bay Yoga). She has been a mentor to me and I can’t imagine anyone else being my boss after so much time not having a boss (I was nervous!)
Night time – no matter how late, 8, 9, 10pm I have to eat a good dinner. If it’s earlier, I meet up with friends around Boston and enjoy some time out but I also LOVE to cook– there is always homemade stock in my freezer and almost always eggplant drying in my kitchen. When I have the time, I love to plan a big meal for friends and family (I sometimes cook for two days straight, make everything from scratch, for me it’s the most relaxing and fun thing in the world.) I think every night should end with a little bit of red wine (like 1⁄2 a cup) to relax but most of the time I’m too tired so I end up with a long shower and bed.