So You Want To Be A Yoga Superstar.

Via Sarah Ezrin
on Oct 8, 2013
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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


About Sarah Ezrin

Sarah Ezrin, E-RYT-500, is an energetic and humorous yoga teacher based in Los Angeles. With a profound love of travel, Sarah runs around the globe leading teacher trainings, workshops, and retreats. She is a writer and regular contributor for many publications. A background in psychology and life coaching infuse her classes, which are dynamic and alignment-based. For Sarah, yoga is beyond the postures; it is about connecting to one’s brightest and most authentic Self. Life should be spent laughing with those we love and doing the things we most enjoy, like yoga! For more information on Sarah please visit her website or connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.


14 Responses to “So You Want To Be A Yoga Superstar.”

  1. Whitney Allen says:

    Great article Sarah. When I became a teacher in 2002, there were not many of us around, and certainly this level of competition and fame seeking wasn't out there. I have to say, it seems mostly exclusive among teachers in Los Angeles and New York, towns where everyone wants a piece of the fame game. New teachers are hardly the only guilty parties: it's disheartening to watch seasoned teachers become publicity hungry robots of self-promotion, spewing "look at me look at me" all over Facebook and Twitter. This is just another reason why I long to teach in Chicago full time. Thanks for writing! xo

  2. shilo nelson says:

    I truly enjoyed the article. Very nice work.

  3. NisaA says:

    This competition to raise to stardom does exist mostly In the US. Europe is very different in that respect. You have great yoga teachers that barley have a website let alone a Facebook page. Their priority is not being recognised but being able to teach.

    As long as you are inspiring people along the way and being true to yourself, walking you talk I don’t see anything wrong with one wanting to be good at what they do. Magazine covers and brand ambassadors are just marketing, as it is writing in journals.

    I don’t want to be judgmental or sound harsh Sarah but when you read your bio, you as well describe yourself as a popular teacher internationally recognised.. I am sorry but I found this article a bit patronising. Perhaps becouse it was writen in a popular journal, which initself can look as a marketing trick. I would have loved to see more encouragement from senior teachers, rather than placing all the young teachers coming out of TT in a same basket and presuming they all are doing it for the wrong reasons.. Everyone has its own journey in life which will lead them to different paths. Everyone facing their own obstables and battles..Lets not be assuming but more kind!

  4. Great piece, thank you!

  5. Boodiba says:

    "Where we lose the yoga is when the external goals become the main drive of teaching." Well said! Self promotion is one thing, but relentless self promotion is another. Like everything in life, it's about context and balance.

  6. EveSerene says:

    Sorry Sarah, Facebook is not to blame but the concept of entrepreneurism is what made this "breed" of yoga teacher, marketing to a crowd and rustling them into packed rooms was done by previous generations. You are dead on target with the superstar attitude that many out there have.

    The above comment is right about your bio: it reads like you are a superstar. Perhaps something a bit more humble about your self and your own journey rather than your popular classes and world travel would help create a sense that you are genuine and not wanting to obtain your own superstar status? Even Kino keeps her blogs humble and to the practice.

  7. Uma says:

    Personally, I found this well written, and it seems to come from a genuine place. I am a young student (I have been practicing for 6 years, and I am 23) and as part of this new generation Y, it totally makes sense. I see tons of young people who practice for purely physical reason and are so goal driven. It did not seem as though Sarah is putting a value judgement on achieving fame, it seems as though the comment is on the desire and where it is coming from. You have to take into consideration the position of privilege these aspiring yoga celebrities are coming from (someone has been funding their practice) so right there the group of people who have a different kind of "drive". Regardless, the criticism is so negative and we should all be practicing more than just the asanas – which is ironic, as thats what I took away as the overarching point of the article.

  8. Sarah Ezrin says:

    Hi NisaA!
    Thank you so much for taking the time to read the article and comment thoughtfully. I had not intended my bio to come across that way, so I will definitely consider revising it! 🙂
    I also want to clarify that I am not lumping all new teachers together. I'm speaking of a specific subgroup of people (old teachers, new teachers, etc) who's main intention to teach, is no longer about the yoga, but instead about the fame.
    Thanks for your feedback!

  9. Sarah Ezrin says:

    Hi EveSerene! I just wrote to NisaA, as well about my bio and appreciated your feedback! I definitely do not intend to come across like anything other than who I am, which is a girl that loves this practice and teaching! Thanks for your comment 🙂

  10. Jose says:

    I thought this was a great article but I am confused that you are a Lululemon ambassador yourself and you describe your yoga classes as "popular".

  11. Brian says:

    Agreed entirely. As a young male instructor(25), I've started teaching by doing community based practices by donation in the local park, and am opening a studio with the most affordable rates in town… Yoga should be available for everyone, and that's the bottom line. It's funny seeing instructors refer to themselves as gurus or masters, when in reality true gurus and masters never refer to themselves as such. Thanks for staying humble, there's no place for ego in yoga.

  12. Sarah Ezrin says:

    Thanks for your comment, Jose! I am not knocking Lululemon ambassadors. Just as you point out, I was an ambassador myself! I love Lululemon. Nor am I knocking popular teachers or teachers who market themselves. As I write above "greatness or recognition is not necessarily bad…Where we lose the yoga is when the external goals become the main drive of teaching." I'm speaking to one's motivations and whether they are ego-based or yogic. Does this teacher want to be a Lulu ambassador to get their picture on the wall and free clothes? Or are they being recognized for their contribution to the community and using Lulu to make a difference in that community. I hope that clarifies a bit? 🙂

  13. Mac says:

    Good article expect for one little thing…. in a yoga studio attendance in class matters. The numbers matter if you want to keep your doors open so that all the teachers have a place to teach. Additionally, showing up for your class on time or maybe even early so you can greet the folks who have taken time out of there day to attend the class you are leading, well that matters as well. Having owned my own independent yoga studio (non-corporate, 1 location, and we don't sell anything but yoga, meaning A- your first class is free, B- need a mat, you can barrow one for free, C- need a towel, well those are free, D- need water? That's free as well and filtered! Want to raise money for small NGO's sure! And the best part- a Well known Master level teacher coming for a workshop- we don't take a cut- keeping the price low for students and honoring the Master Level teacher as well-) for well over a decade, I can truly say that the numbers do matter, and to say that they do not, and that it's not "yoga" to want to keep the doors open, well, that is disingenuous.