October 8, 2013

So You Want To Be A Yoga Superstar.

There is a new breed of yoga teacher.

This group of young yogis come out of teacher training with one aim in mind for their yoga path and it is not samadhi…it is superstardom.

Their goals read like a resume: get on the cover of Yoga Journal, become a Lululemon Ambassador, teach at Bhakti Fest. When you ask them how they are doing you get the same list repeated back to you, along with class numbers, and which current ‘yogalebrity’ they are hanging out with these days.

Is this a natural by-product of the Y-generation (a cohort of people who have been raised to believe they are special and deserving)? Is Facebook to blame for being a platform to broadcast accomplishments, fueling competition?  Or perhaps it is merely a symptom of our culture-at-large being celebrity obsessed.

Regardless of the causes, one has to ask: where is the yoga???

Greatness or recognition is not necessarily bad. It is definitely an accomplishment to be on the cover of Yoga Journal magazine, but would you rather be on the cover for having a killer kapotasana or for being an inspiring teacher?

Where we lose the yoga is when the external goals become the main drive of teaching. When a class is measured by the number of students who attend rather than the number of people it helped. When personal asana and meditation practice fall by the wayside so one can do a photoshoot. When teaching becomes a popularity contest and no longer about the yoga or the students.

In the age of immediate gratification it is challenging to be patient and allow things to come. In Los Angeles, there seems to be more yoga instructors than actors, so living from a place of abundance versus scarcity is not always easy.

However, patience, allowing and abundance are very important qualities for a spiritual teacher (and that is what yoga teachers are); ones we cannot cultivate enough.

Also, it must be kept in mind that the yogalebrities of today have been hiking up the yoga teacher mountain for many moons. Most over a decade. Yet they began just like the rest—teaching group classes where only one to two people came, sometimes none. Driving from one end of the city to the other and back again for private clients.

Like any business, there are a few remarkable exceptions that shoot up the yoga ladder like rising stars, but for the most part, the people whose careers many covet have been on this path for years. They have been working on themselves and their teaching craft and earning respect and admiration over time.

So, for the new teachers entering this changing yoga world, pause and take a breath. Try to remember that very first yoga class you took when you fell in love with the practice and bring that message to your students.

Work on abolishing the ego through diligent practice and non-attachment.

Make your personal practice priority over any sub opportunity or class slot.

Trust that there will be more.

And know deeply that by doing all of the internal work, your time will come, and it will be for being a great teacher, not just a popular one. “Practice, practice and all is coming.”

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Ed: Bryonie Wise

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