The business of yoga

I've been thinking a lot about this business of being a yogi in modern times. There are unique challenges that we face today. For example, how do you promote yourself as a teacher and get students in the class without inflating your ego?

You prepare the lesson plan for the class/workshop, you select the perfect music to accompany your sequence, you light the candles and make the room inviting and then.... No one shows up. There's no doubt that it's disappointing. How do you let go of the expections and practice acceptance then?

It's a strange new world we're living in. Yoga on facebook is the perfect example. Yes, I do see the irony here as most of you are reading this post from my facebook link. Are you promoting your yoga business or inflating your ego when you post hundreds of pictures of yourself "doing yoga"? Is yoga something you do or is it a state of being?

The thought that keeps coming back to me is that yoga is not suppose to be a business. It was never intended to be a way to make a living. In there lies the problem (in my humble opinion).

Don't get me wrong; I daydream about quitting my day job and teaching yoga full time too. I dare you to find a yoga teacher who hasn't. Unfortunately, as I see it, if I had to depend on yoga teaching to pay my mortgage I would have to have a different approach to self-promotion. I would have no choice but to engage my ego more.

I appreciate the fact that some folks have chosen to walk this fine line of teaching yoga to make a living and living the yoga lifestyle. My feeling is that if we can all remember that living our yoga is the foundation we will have a better chance at growing the yoga business. The first lesson in yoga teacher training is only teach what you know. It saddens me to see how many teachers teach material that they haven't thoroughly studied and applied in their own lives.

On the flip side of that is that yoga teacher training programs should require students take continuing education classes on the topic of ethics in yoga. You would think that most of it is common sense stuff but my experience has been that reminders are needed.

Back to Facebook, if your friends are also yoga teachers is it appropriate to promote yourself on their facebook page? When all your friends are also yoga teachers how do you deal with envy among your peers? What if you are offered a teaching position that would pay you double what you make teaching other classes but you're asked to teach something you don't know intimately? Do you fake it? And if so, is that really teaching yoga? How do you build self-confidence without becoming self-absorbed?

It seems to me that the scales have been tipped and we now have more teachers than students. That's because there's this misconception that once you've completed a 200hr yoga teacher training program you suddenly become a teacher and you forget that you are still a student. The real learning begins after graduation. The learning up till that point has only been superficial. It's up to the student to deepen their study of yoga by actually practicing what was learned.

The need for real teachers is stronger than ever. A true teacher would hold the pin that would pop our inflated ego when it's getting out of control. A true teacher would offer us an example of right living. A true teacher would hold the light for us when we are lost in the dark.

Om Shri Gurubhyo Namaha!!


  1. Hi,

    I actually access your blog from my blog. I agree: teacher training programs are what keep most yoga studios solvent, and only a few really go beyond what the teacher needs. In the regular teaching profession, we are required to take professional development and have to submit proof. In university teaching, we win merit when we incorporate new techniques that we learn elsewhere, from online learning to incorporating community based learning in the classroom. Yoga is not like that, so graduating a 200 isn't going to cut it in order to be a good teacher. The best teachers I know in yoga are constantly studying and challenging themselves, along with developing their own practice.

    There is a glut, yes.

  2. And yes, the online pimping does seem against the sutras, so I say follow what the still small voice says, not the loud me, me, me voice!

  3. One of my teachers used to say they were not the general contractor of the Universe. In other words, "karma is not your job". What does it matter what the other teachers are doing?

    Promote. Don't promote. That's only a word. The instructors I know are spreading awareness. There's a difference between "I teaching tomorrow morning" and "Stu's greatest Yoga of all time class". There was a time when the people of the village knew where to learn their lessons; they knew who the teacher was; they knew when the teacher was in. Those teachers lived on alms, too.

    We don't live in villages anymore. Reaching out via Social Media, etc. is simply letting people know when the teacher is "in". Post on my wall every time you have a class or a workshop... please. I love to support my friends... and I consider friends those people that support me. Business is always second.

    Be the change you want to see. Be a good teacher yourself. Be a role model for other teachers. That's all we can do. That's our limit.

    There's a girl that teaches Monday nights in Collegeville. She's a great teacher. She was taught by a great teacher. Try to check her out - you might have more thoughts on this post. Her name is Neida.


  4. Stu, You are a yoga master... That's the same advice my teacher, Ed gave me...
    Thanks for the reminder!

    Susan, It's the "do your own practice" that I find to be most important.


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