Thursday, March 17, 2016

The paradox of selling yoga.

So I've been in the the yoga business for sixteen years and a practitioner for over twenty seven and have I seen a massive sea change. When I told my ex husband I wanted to teach yoga I remember him saying "Didn't that die in the 60's?.  At that time my feelings were a bit hurt but I didn't give up on my dream because I had been very sick for nearly two years and yoga got me through it. I wanted others to experience that same healing.

Living in a smaller town in the South people would say awful things about me and there would be whispers about me teaching some alternate religion. It was quite horrible, to the point that I quit telling people I taught yoga if I thought someone was going to give me a lecture about my religious beliefs and damn me to hell in the middle of the supermarket.

Fast forward ten years and I can't get away from yoga ads and a variety of yoga all over social media. There is a yoga for everything and everybody and I'm cool with that but I'm also kind of overwhelmed with it. For years I never knew when I was going to have someone come at me for playing "that Hindu" music and now it seems like everywhere I turn someone is capitalizing on yoga. And I understand it because it's my reality too. In order to let people know what I do (yoga teacher training, yoga therapy, classes, workshops etc.) I have to advertise and sell myself so people will know where to find me.

 What I want to address though is so much more. It's hard sometimes working in the world of yoga as you must sell yourself and that kind of goes against the whole "losing your ego" thing we are taught to practice. We who practice  yoga are on a journey for healing ourselves and we are often the most stressed out, overworked, struggling with insecurities, codependent, you name it people. Which is why those of us that are very good at what we do are speaking to our students the many truths we have spoken to ourselves to deal with all our own 'ism's" and pain and suffering. Yoga ask us to look at our constructed self (Ego) and see what parts of that take us away from our higher source, our connection to something bigger than ourselves (for me God). It's a crazy paradox to have to work on letting go of part of your constructed self to then turn and sell yourself, one I don't have an easy answer for but I do know what works for me.

What I have learned and what I observe is this. Most of the world gets up and goes to work and does their job and though they may seek recognition the main reason they go to work is for security and then if they are really lucky they have work that is fulfilling a higher purpose for themselves. They may have to sell themselves but it's probably not in skin tight clothes or skimpy attire doing things with their body that may look very exotic or down right odd to others. They don't have to prove their physical abilities over their education or skills.

Every time we turn around there is a new flavor or the month of yoga and a little bit of insecurity may arise in us "Are teaching the kind of yoga people want or need?" we may ask ourselves. It's almost become what feels like a competitive sport but no one, especially the yogi wants to talk about it because yogi's are suppose to be grateful and humble and kind all the time.

Here is what I have learned from these observations and what works and doesn't work for me.
Social media can be a real distraction. It is best to take breaks often from social media. When I focus on what I am doing and what my strengths are I am much happier. When I compare myself to others then that is the opposite of self care. Listing out my attributes as a yogi and a teacher helps me know what my strengths are and who I need to serve in my work. For me it's important to teach yoga in a way that address the whole person. In order to do this what works for me is to show pictures that are more gentle or serene or simply show my classes in simple postures or meditative states. This gives people the idea that we are safe, gentle, kind, contemplative which is the message I want to send.

The  best way to get burned out is to focus on what others are doing and try to keep up. Just like anything in life showing up is half the battle. It may be boring but showing up, being reliable, always being a student yourself, focusing on what you're good at and being of service are the keys to lasting as a provider of yoga and the key to a happier you. Don't worry about being the flavor of the month, it's always changing just be you and your tribe will find you.

For further understanding look to the Yoga Sutra's.
Below is the Klesha's that which keeps us in suffering.