Yoga at Work: Part I


Yoga at Work: Part I

Teaching, Yoga, + Filling Your Cup

“A great teacher never stops being a student.” -Jeffrey Benjamin

 Anyone who has ever taught for any period knows how emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausting it can be, especially for those of us who teach skills-based classes. Yes, it can be just as equally rewarding in those areas as well, which is why we teach; those rewarding moments (hopefully) far outweigh those moments of drought.

It’s all about balance, and as a college English instructor for the past four years, I can attest to just how difficult maintaining that balance can be. If you’ve read my Genesis of Yoga series, you know that in yoga, balance poses are my jam, but certainly not in life.

My students are some of the most brilliant, compassionate, and generous human beings on this planet; they’re also some of the neediest. Perhaps this says something more about me than an overgeneralization of teachers, but there are times when I don’t even want to go home because I just don’t want anyone or anything else to need me.

Fuck the dishes and the laundry and the litter box. I just need to feel human again. You know the adage “you can’t pour from an empty cup”? At one point my cup was bone-dry, so brittle it could turn to dust by the slightest touch. My cup not only needed filled; it needed to be taken to one of those car washes that doubles as an 80’s rave.

I especially struggled with this because when my husband and I bought our house in New Bern, North Carolina, my yoga mat was ripped out from under me; my yoga studio home with teacher and yoga bestie was now two hours away. This was the place and these were people that had brought me back to life before. And now I was dying again without them.

I half-heartedly searched for yoga studios near our house, but they didn’t even come close to replacing my yoga home. My grief only exacerbated my deteriorating emotional, mental, and physical state. I knew what I needed; I needed yoga.

Yoga was and still is my church. It’s not an exercise routine for me; it’s my religion. Growing up in a conservative Protestant household, I remembered something I heard people in our church say: “A church isn’t four walls or even the people in those walls; a church is you and God.” I realized that in the same way, my yoga isn’t about the studio space or even my teachers (although it certainly helps). My yoga is about me and the divinity within me. If we both show up to the mat, then I’m doing yoga.

Once I came to terms with this new (for me) definition of yoga, the universe responded in return. It turns out that the wellness center at the college I work for teaches yoga twice a week, and my teaching schedule allowed me to go. It certainly wasn’t the same as my yoga studio in Wilmington; we didn’t om or chant or sing.

But that didn’t matter anymore. What mattered was the divinity within me and I showed up to the mat. What mattered was that my cup was refilled and overflowing. What mattered was I found my life balance again, and thus was better able to serve myself, my family, and my students.

What matters is that being a yoga student makes me a better English teacher because it makes me a better human. What matters is that my yoga is at work, at work.    

*This article is Part III of a three-part series: The Genesis of My Yoga. To read Part I, click HERE.

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About Holly Adcock:


Today, Holly Adcock is still a hamburger-eating yogi who practices yoga at 9 o’clock at night after a late English class, except this time, she’s teaching the class as a full-time professor. Her previously published work includes a poem entitled “This Old Room” and an essay called “I’m Sorry, Mr. Jackson, I am Not Real.” She lives in New Bern, North Carolina with her husband, two cats, and one dog. In her spare time, she enjoys making rice bags for her non-profit, Rice Bags With Love, and learning to garden. For more information, visit her website or on Facebook at