It has been just two days since our final class in the 4-week BodyLove Werq-Shoppe series. I’m feeling super grateful and deeply relieved. I wanted to take some time to write about my experience teaching this Workshop, because it was quite a monumental event in my own journey, and there is a lot I’ve learned and gained from this experience.
BodyLove was my very first Workshop. I began creating and cultivating this Workshop 4 years ago, in the summer of 2015, as “Intro to Sacred Erotic Movement”. Despite my efforts to share this class with various Pole Dance studios around the U.S. (and even once in Abuja, Nigeria), circumstances never quite aligned for me to actually share the Workshop until now.
In the very early stages, when approaching studios within my liberal-hippie hometown in Massachusetts–the Workshop was perceived as being too “racy” and sexualized for certain yoga and movement-oriented spaces. Accessing the body for spiritual development was Okay—as long as it was not explicitly sexual, and fit within the standard, “safe” framework of yoga.
The Original Sacred Erotic Movement Workshop Flyer. Photo captured by Alexandria Pierre Etienne
It was important to find the appropriate space, where I felt comfortable sharing such a special art form. That primarily had to do with the energy and culture that was created within the studio from the owners, and what they passed along to the students. The space also needed to be accessible to me, as someone who was just starting out in my teaching journey.
I slowed down and became more observant of which spaces were appropriate for what I had to offer. After moving to Germany, it took a full year before I approached Afropolitan Berlin, which I intuitively knew before ever visiting—that it was where I wanted to host my Workshop.
Upon my first visit, entering the space and sensing the gentle whiff of Palo Santo, a beautiful array of African masks and Green Plants protectively hanging over a quaintly-sized dance studio with smooth wooden floors—and then having such a warm exchange with Jacqui, the events coordinator, about my Pole Dancing–I knew this was my space.
With that said, there were other factors which delayed my teaching—that were mostly personal. If I’m being honest, I wasn’t ready to teach this Workshop until this year. The idea had been birthed within me, but I wasn’t truly in a place to fully bring it to life. There were many challenges and experiences that I have gone through in the past few years, that have brought my focus more to my own healing, than holding space for others.
I believe in teaching from a full cup.
I wanted to create this Workshop from a place where I was in a steady rhythm within my own healing and movement practice, so that the fruits of that practice would naturally overflow into the content I created and shared with my class.
Ironically, the opportunity to teach the BodyLove Werq-Shoppe came to me at a time in my life when I was faced with many challenges. I had just released a toxic relationship, I had been traveling every single week to feed my Creative projects, and I felt burdened by a few sudden financial obligations that had popped up out of nowhere.
On an emotional level, it didn’t feel like the perfect or most ideal time for me to create…and it was a lot of werq.
I know–it looks so easy. Many years ago, I was amongst what I imagine to be many other people who gazed upon the effortless grace of yoga and dance teachers, and presumed their perfectly-timed cues, well-organized sequences, and intuitive movement all came naturally. They must have just rolled out of bed, showed up, and taught the class!
¡I Woke Up Like Dis!!!
In reality, I worked on this class Every. Single. Day (except for my Self-Care Sundays) for three months to prepare each and every part of each and every class. I prepared playlists that aligned with the Chakras we were working with, and choreographed warmups to those playlists. I created original movement sequences and meditations. I studied the 7 Chakras to learn more deeply about them and how to engage my students. And then, after designing the class—I practiced. I would sit in front of the mirror and speak out loud. I recorded myself teaching alone in my room and in studios. I wrote down and practiced all the cues for each and every single movement we were doing, so I would know how to properly communicate them.
Having had very sporadic teaching opportunities (mostly teaching private lessons) I also hosted two donation-based practice Workshops within my inner-circle to share my content in a group-setting and receive feedback prior to my first BodyLove Werq-Shoppe at Afropolitan Berlin on October 19th.
It was a big deal for me to finally have the opportunity to platform my work in a space that resonated with me, and in a city where I wanted to build community around my work. I wanted to share the best of what I had to offer.
Yes, I knew from the beginning that it would be a lot of werq, especially given the timeline I was working with, as well as other projects and commitments.
However, BodyLove was a top priority, and thus, I cultivated space for the work accordingly. Ultimately, I chose to set aside other things that were on my plate so that I could balance the Workshop and my commitment to self-care.
My decision to re-prioritize, ask for help, and let go became my salvation, and it allowed me to be more present with this work. More appreciative and focused on what mattered most.
In the vacant space that was created in my letting go of other tasks, I was more readily able to tend to my passions. In the wake of BodyLove, I launched and began to cultivate my Wellness brand, Haus of Isis, which has been my brainchild for the last 4 years, and the home platform of all of my Sensuality and Wellness Workshops.
So let’s talk about the actual class.
It was amazing.
The first BodyLove Werq-Shoppe was a one-time 2-hour Workshop. Three lovely students attended, and by the end of the class, they all wanted more. So I took a deep breath, accepted the challenge, and began my odyssey into creating the 4-week BodyLove WerqShoppe Chakra Series.
I created a beautiful flyer. We put it out there far and wide as we would reach on social media.
Within two weeks, we had a full class. 8 participants registered and paid for the Workshop, which is way more than I ever expected, and I was over the moon grateful for such a positive reception by women of color in Berlin.
It was such a warm and friendly group. To walk into the room and be greeted by such bright and beautiful faces, felt deeply comforting.
As an Instructor, sharing my first Workshop—I was in a vulnerable place as well. I wanted people to walk away feeling good and well in their bodies, and to have a genuinely positive experience. I wanted to do a good job! My students helped me feel safe and affirmed in this breakthrough—where I was sharing my new creation and a very special piece of my journey for the first time. And based on their responses…they loved it! I kept getting feedback about how much better they felt after the class, and how much fun they were having…
And then something happened.
The first class, 6 of our registrants showed up.
The next class, it was 4.
Then in our final class, there was only one.
I remember the amount of preparation that went into that final class, how grounded I felt, and how excited I was to share our closing circle, snap a group photo, and serve tea and chocolate to celebrate our time together.
When I walked into the studio and waited…only one lovely student showed up. Melania had been deeply devoted to this class, and she had been present for each one, even on days she wasn’t feeling her best. As we sat down on the mat to check-in before class, we were both slightly bewildered. She seemed to feel a bit sad as she expressed confusion (and likely concern for my feelings) as to why the others hadn’t shown up. As for me, I just took it in stride. I was super grateful for her presence, and that I had fully shown up for someone who had fully shown up for me…and for herself! I think my showing up as well—was in the context of something so much greater than this particular class, that I was in touch with the value of the work and my ability to share it, regardless of who was present.
We had a beautiful class. We danced, shared, laughed, played. Towards the end, Melania also presented a beautifully original sequence of everything she had learned throughout the series, executing all of her movements with grace. I was so proud! She graciously thanked me for being such a wonderful Instructor. After our closing meditation, we played some music in that empty studio, and I served us Chamomile-Vanilla tea with manuka honey as she filled out her feedback form. It was very cute—and something special to remember.
After class was over, I excitedly called my Mom and told her about my class, and how only one student showed up.
“That’s Okaaaayyyy” she drawled with a lazily-sweet, matter-of-factness.
And It was Okay. Releasing the expectation of my class ending in this glamorous group photo, where I could post on Instagram prove to others the “success” of my well-attended Workshops, opened me up to something so much greater within myself. It enabled me to have a humbling and beautifully intimate exchange with my student, release expectations, and trust more deeply in the value of my work.
And one valuable nugget that I got from this particular experience—is the profound realization that I indeed–have the ability to attract people. My aesthetic, both physically and creatively, the words I use—can attract many people into my work…
But the people who stay and devote themselves, or who even just support me as an Artist more consistently—will need to have a deeper relationship with what I’m offering, how it benefits them in their life, or how supporting my work fits into the broader framework of what they are cultivating within themselves. It’s going to be an exchange that is rooted in a stronger foundation than what a trendy, flash in the pan experience can provide.
What I have to share as a human being is something distinguishably unique and profoundly needed in the world.
The more I tap into my power and cultivate spaces which honor the fullest expression of my gifts, the more I will attract who and what I am meant to.
This cultivation of a global community–will grow as I grow—both as a person, and as an Artist. In my ability to deepen and discover my own healing journey within, and communicate the fruits of that through my work.
There will be more opportunities to reach people on wider platforms, but who I am as a person will determine which platforms I arrive on, to whom I speak, what I say and how I say it—
With my whole being.
not just my voice.
I will attract who is meant for my work, through my commitment to Authenticity and continuing to refine myself as I walk on this path.
On that note—I am grateful for this wonderful teaching experience. To have been taught so much through the beautiful work and presence of my students. I look forward to sharing this offering and so much more with the world.