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August 11, 2013

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

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

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Elizabeth Farrell