Yoga: Show Up in Your Most Authentic Skin. ~ Elizabeth Farrell

Via Elizabeth Farrell
on Aug 11, 2013
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I have something to say about the “yoga world.”

I am tired of how yoga “looks.”

Yoga, in the western world, has become a version I don’t like—it’s become a big business. Apparently, anything can become yoga, even pole dancing. New versions are added daily and it’s become extremely ego driven, down to expensive yoga­ gear.

Spiritual materialism is the new “it” factor and yoga has become its biggest commodity.

Yoga means union (I am simplifying here) and in the West, we seem to take the very ancient, authentic teachings and turn them into something that can become bought and sold to the masses.

Yoga has officially become one with the West. I look back to the days when it was something that I practiced in the basement of a church with a teacher who had been teaching for over 20 years, who lived and studied the teachings and didn’t promote herself using photos of herself in extreme and advanced asana because she didn’t have to. Her authenticity, knowledge and essence kept people coming consistently to study with her. (Please note this is my experience of what I observed of my teacher.)

Here is what this brings up for me: the question of authenticity.

In this ever-evolving western version of yoga and expanding wellness industry, the way we market and advertise ourselves as yoga teachers and wellness entrepreneurs matters. It matters because it may be our only source of income. The truth is, I don’t teach yoga to make money, because I don’t make money doing it and it’s not my primary source of income.

I teach yoga because I love to teach and share the teachings with others.

If yoga or another wellness business is your sole source of income, a lot of time must be spent on how you are going to get more clients, students, etc. in the door or to like your Facebook page. It’s just the way it is in this Western paradigm.

The challenge is promoting yourself and your spiritual practice. It’s conflicting, confusing and honestly, how do you even really sell a spiritual practice? It’s a conflict of interest, in my opinion. I have a very difficult time “selling” or “marketing” myself because I feel like it has to be well thought out and mindful as well as authentic.

I want to show up fully, as I am, in all that I do.

You want to express who you are, have integrity, be authentic and yet you have to sell an image that people want to buy. In this ego-based, image driven world, how you “package” yourself matters.

Do you walk the talk? Do you really live the life you are selling? Are you completely committed to the practice you preach? Do you live your life with complete integrity? Are you comfortable with yourself and how you are marketing yourself?

One day, we won’t look the way do right now. Our bodies change and image changes daily. It’s impermanent, yet the teachings, the way we live our lives and how we show up in our most authentic skin—this lasts; not our perfect pose in Lycra.

Strip down; be naked.

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Assist Ed: Julie Garcia/Ed: Bryonie Wise


About Elizabeth Farrell

Elizabeth Farrell currently teaches hatha-yoga in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She also is a mother, health coach, Reiki Master, lover of essential oils, writer and poet, practice manager for UnityMedicine, and is known for her impromptu dinner gatherings and freshly baked cookies.You can find her online at



3 Responses to “Yoga: Show Up in Your Most Authentic Skin. ~ Elizabeth Farrell”

  1. Melinda says:

    Well said. I too, teach yoga, not as my main source of income, but as a supplement. I was just commenting the other day to a class that yoga has become so commercialized. Some, are constantly trying to market something new and we have lost the basic simple beauty of yoga its self. I truly love teaching yoga and helping others become more comfortable in their lives, mind, body, and soul. It's not such a bad thing to live a simple, uncomplicated life that includes yoga and meditation! Namaste!

  2. Alex says:

    So what if someone DOES teach yoga as a source of income? Are you stating that they're a cop-out or "not living authentically" just because they try to make money off the thing that they're passionate about? Who's to say a teacher who makes a living off of yoga doesn't "show up fully, as (they are), in all that (they) do." I agree that the commercial side of Westernized yoga promotes image and all the "flash" that is asana practice; such as handstands galore and all the asanas that take time, constant practice and ultimately the desire to obtain the ability to do such postures. However, I don't think that condemns those people to living a life of conformity.
    I'd have an easier time getting on board with what you're saying if it didn't sound like you were attacking all the hardworking yogis who are attempting to make a living off of what they believe in and what in fact motivates them to be just as authentic as that teacher who teaches in the basement of a church for 20 years and has no expectation of monetary compensation. Just come across like jealous rantings.

  3. Chakra Shell Lady says:

    It is true that the commercialization of the "Product Yoga" is extreme. I am also turned off by many of my dear fellow yogis when they incessantly post self photos in asana, but more so at this point of saturation I am saddened by the need to compulsively promote. Have compassion for all beings and know that all Yoga is good, seeds are planted and perhaps there will be good soil for this practice to flourish and to help humanity. Come out of the judging opinionated mind.
    As far as Yoga commerce, it is just a fact of this life that in order to keep a studio running you must have a stream of income. I have never been resentful or upset about paying for my yoga – and most people who come to my studio are looking for yoga in community with a teacher and are happy to skip a few lattes etc. to find the money to pay for this to support the thing, to keep it going. I am a yoga teacher, and I am happy to say that I feel valuable and worth being paid so that I can sustain myself too.
    Om shanti shanti shanti