Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Business of Yoga

I'm sitting down to refresh my lecture on The Business of Yoga.

It has changed in recent years.

Sure, there are things to know when migrating into this industry, like reasonable expectations for payment, various credentials and opportunities for continuing education. I'm sure these things are helpful to know, and they make up the vast majority of my "lecture."


The longer I'm in this "industry" the more I realize - recognize - reveal that the Business of Yoga is the same as the business of anything else. The people "at the top" are just people, with bright spots and shadows. Sometimes they're there because they worked hard, or because they knew the right person, or because they slept with the right person. Their credentials or time in service tell you very little about who they are as a teacher. As my ex-husband used to hear in nursing school, "C's make nurses."

We do not buy credentials, we earn them. 

I'm saddened by the number of us who were raised with star charts. Not maps of the sky, but lines of boxes where we got to add a star for brushing our teeth, for turning in our homework, for having reasonable behavior. Incentives for good behavior make us expect a reward for good behavior, and I'm afraid that many of us still think, incorrectly, that having more stars makes us better.

My parents are both PhDs. They have two bachelor's degrees and two master's degrees a piece. BUT they earned these degrees because they were legitimately interested in chemistry and physics, not because they wanted more stars on their charts. I have a master's degree because I felt like it was an expectation - like I wouldn't be worthy of love (or employable, which is virtually the same thing) without it.

If you believe that I am a yoga teacher, then I want you to know that I want you to care more about my private life than the initials after my name. I want you to know that I ate a bag of chips for dinner last night and that - so far - I've resisted the urge to have a cup of coffee today. I lay down halfway through my asana practice yesterday, and I meditated through tears rather than sending a vile email earlier this morning. Yoga is a practice for me, not a badge. And my life isn't unicorns and rainbows - it's a daily struggle with depression and anxiety. It is a delicate dance with addiction. 

It is one day at a time.

My credentials cannot tell you that - but paired with the training I've received comes the practice I have implemented. The synthesis of the material. I've never stopped learning, but the lessons I've learned recently don't come with a certificate to hang on my wall.

Neither, my darling, have yours.

If you seek to be in The Business of Yoga, you have an important choice. To business-ify yoga, or yogify business.

I believe everyone should take a yoga teacher training, because through this process you learn more about yourself. I don't believe everyone should then teach asana classes. Instead, I believe the world would be better if we all took that practice into daily life. If we set the masks of credentials to the side, dropped the curtains on the real story and met one another as we are - a collection of stardust, entangled by stories of this life and the last.

You are made of more stars than you could ever imagine, could ever line up, could ever earn.

Act like it.

That. That is the business of yoga.

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