Today we’d like to introduce you to Tracy Affonso.
Tracy, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
On a whim one day several years ago, I decided to go to a yoga class with one of my roommates. At the time, I was decidedly unhealthy and had little interest in exercising, and I’m not sure what prompted my interest in class that particular day. However, there was something about that first class that I fell in love with, and before I knew it, I was regularly attending classes. I’ve always been a slow learner, and progress was incremental at best during those early days. I remember after I had been practicing for a couple of months the instructor came up to me after class and asked, “Was that your first class?” Haha! It was humbling.
I practiced for several years before deciding that I wanted to do a teacher training. I remember very clearly taking classes and wondering how on earth the instructors remembered the names to all of the poses and all of the sequences.
During the entire time, I was learning about yoga and studying to become a yoga instructor, my full-time job was as an elementary school teacher. Once I graduated from my initial training, I started teaching one or two classes a week after school and on weekends. Over time, I began to incorporate more aspects of yoga and mindfulness into my 4th-grade classroom. I eventually realized I was way more excited about doing that work with my students than anything else I was responsible for teaching them. It was at that point, I began to consider a career change. Like most big decisions in my life, I spent a LONG time thinking about making the switch before I actually did it.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I would love to meet the person who is able to answer “YES!” to this question!
My path has had its share of bumps and bruises. The decision to leave my job as a classroom teacher was not easy. While I received overwhelming support from so many people in my life, there was also lots of concern, worry, and disapproval from people I’m close to. All of those feelings were coming from a good place, but it was still hard to move forward with my plan with the knowledge that some people believed I was about to make a colossal mistake.
In September 2015, I made the decision to take a break from teaching during the following school year, which means I had a full year left in the classroom. During that school year, I taught as much yoga as I could after school and on weekends so that when June came around, I already had lots of classes on my schedule. While I’m ultimately glad I worked so hard that year because it put me in a good place once the school year ended, it was exhausting. Waking up at 4:00 or 4:30 every morning to fit in a workout or my own practice before getting to school, teaching kids all day, and then leaving school to teach two or three or sometimes more classes was daunting.
This year marks the third September I’ve not had to return to school to set up my classroom. Over the course of the past couple of years, what my daily life looks like has shifted dramatically. That first year, I said “Yes!” to everything for fear of not making enough money or declining an opportunity that had the potential to turn into something bigger. This resulted in me driving around, often in a rush, from class to class and teaching at some places that just didn’t feel like a good fit. That first year out of the classroom I also worked for a nonprofit that was incredibly rewarding but pulled me away from what I really wanted to be doing. Last year I enrolled in massage therapy school only to determine I. Hate. Giving. Massages.
So, yes, there have some bumps in the road. Each one has taught me a little bit more about myself. To be able to wake up every day and genuinely look forward to going to work is priceless. I regularly think, “I can’t believe I get paid to do this” which makes all the obstacles well worth it.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Tracy Affonso Yoga – what should we know?
There are two branches to my business. In the past couple of years, the consulting work I do with area school districts and collaboratives has grown quite a bit. I teach classroom teachers and school-based professionals how to bring mindfulness into their personal and professional lives in ways that are sustainable. I also teach a course called “Self-Care for Educators,” where the present-day, ever-changing difficulties of working in a classroom or school are acknowledged and addressed. These workshops and courses can be scaled up or down depending on the amount of time I’ve been granted, but the most rewarding experiences have been the ones that meet over a few days, with time in between sessions for the participants to put some of what they have learned to good use. I have over a decade of experience working in schools, so I have a pretty clear understanding of the demands on educators, as well as the unfortunate lack of respect that is often shown to them.
The other branch of my business is yoga! I teach a handful of public adult classes each week at Artemis Yoga in Watertown, MA. My private yoga business has been steady thanks to word of mouth, so most days a week, I see private clients. I teach weekly kids yoga classes, from preschool age through high school. This fall, I’ll resume teaching a monthly Family Yoga class on Sunday afternoons at Artemis Yoga.
Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Can I list two?!
On the consulting side of my business, organization is key. When I plan a workshop for classroom teachers, I put in a ton of attention to detail to make sure it is a worthwhile experience for everyone who participates. As an educator, I sat through countless hours of training that was poorly planned and executed, and it’s really important to me to provide enriching experiences for anyone who signs up for one of my courses.
In addition to organization, boatloads of gratitude. The Boston area is a highly saturated yoga market. It means a lot to me that my regular students keep coming back. Not forgetting that students have a choice where they practice and who they study with inspires me to keep refining my skills as a teacher to give my students the best possible experience.
- Website: www.tracyaffonsoyoga.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @tracyaffonsoyoga
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/tracyaffonsoyoga
Tracy Rodriguez Photography, Antoinette Caira Photography