May 21, 2013

10 Ways to Stop Comparing Yourself to Other Yoga Teachers. ~ Sasha Nelson

So many yoga teachers, so little time (and space).

I recently had to take a serious social media break due to the influx of wellness professionals that so lovingly overflow my news feed with yoga/nutritional goodness. As much as I love my teachers, mentors and inspirations within the industry, I was suddenly incredibly overwhelmed by the amount of people (especially the caliber of these people) I was up against. Even if it is clear that we are on the right path and are already doing pretty well, it doesn’t make it any less intimidating to build our wellness profession amongst all of these gurus.

Case in point: if you are a yoga teacher in New York, you are probably well aware by now that you’ve got competition (unless you’ve already got a steady stream of followers, as you may have jumped on this wagon early enough to bypass the colossal bombardment of teacher trainees in this city). It seems as though it is an upward-facing trend to want to quit your ‘day job’ to become a yoga teacher and/or wellness coach (including energy healer, massage therapist, etc).

This is pretty phenomenal; who would have thought that wellness would ever grow to be such a fad? It’s the healthiest trend there is, and I believe it will stay that way.

Regardless of how awesome it is to be part of this movement, it can be quite draining and discouraging if you are like me and hold yourself up to very high standards. I find enormous amounts of joy in the support I receive from my fellow teachers and the amount of information that can be shared via the social media monster, however it is easy to stress myself out when I see so many of us trying to do more or less of the same thing. It’s exciting, but it’s also exhausting.

What does this mean for those of us in the wellness world?

After this ‘mini social media meltdown’ I recently experienced, I took a breath, then I took what I learned from pratipaksha bhavanam in the yoga sutras. I turned around this negative thought by realizing how hard all of us aspiring yoga teachers are working. Teaching itself is a difficult job, and teaching yoga is a whole other ballgame.

We are teaching individuals of different ages, sizes, experiences and backgrounds about A) eastern philosophy, B) anatomy and alignment, C) yogic postures (in a different language), and D) sequencing which we are either intelligently concocting on the spot or have memorized from prior planning. We run around all over the city to take and/or teach class whilst carrying heavy bag(s) that include things like yoga mats, clean ‘pedestrian’ clothes, snacks for in between class, necessary toiletries, books and more.

This sh*t ain’t easy!

So, for those of us who are getting such pure pleasure from supporting our students and clients—we are pretty friggin’ awesome. We deserve to give ourselves some credit, a pat on the back, the occasional massage or pedicure and a day or two spent away from hounding social media sites to generate new leads or scrounge for new information to post. The more I think about how difficult it is to do this work and how many people really truly want to do this work, the more excited I become to be part of and support such a stellar group of humans.

For the moments when life gets real and you get emotional (because you are not a robot or a monk—that I know of), consider these 10 ways to stop comparing yourself to the other fabulous teachers, coaches and wellness entrepreneurs battling it out for classes, workshops and clients:

  1. Do be yourself. Don’t try to be something you’re not.
  2. Do what you love, in all earnestness.
  3. Do take care or yourself (physically and mentally). Don’t beat yourself up.
  4. Take a breath and take a break. This could mean taking a mini social media sabbatical, a quick staycation, or simply a five-minute break from your computer.
  5. Focus on and enhance your strengths, and do what you’re good at.
  6. Laugh about it. Seriously. For example: us yogis are teaching an Eastern practice in America to all people/shapes/sizes. This is crazy awesome.
  7. Stay inspired by reading about what others are doing and getting involved if/when you can (even if that just means showing some love by saying hello).
  8. Check in with each other. Encourage and support each other. We’re all in this together!
  9. Teach and give advice or suggestions based on what you know, and don’t get discouraged by what you don’t know. If you want to know something, learn it. Ask around, research trainings, read, etc.
  10.  Keep calm and carry on. Channel your inner Ganesh and release the obstacles that bind you

You are all amazing. Now go look in the mirror and tell yourself that, then tell it to all of your wellness industry friends, because we really are.

Peace, love, and namaste.

Sasha Nelson is a yoga instructor, certified health coach, dancer, and music lover based in Brooklyn, NY. She works with individuals who seek to balance wellness within their modern lifestyle, and teaches primarily vinyasa-style yoga in Brooklyn and Manhattan. When you don’t find her doing either of these things she is working for Hyde organic yoga apparel, experimenting in the kitchen, poppin’ and lockin’, and practicing Breakti®. For more information, visit and follow brooklyntreehugger.tumblr.com.

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Ed: T. Lemieux/Kate Bartolotta


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