I’ve had five friends and colleagues in the last year resign from the “business” of Yoga.
A colleague and friend recently said to me, “I can’t take the drama—I’m moving out of the yoga business.”
This is a person who’s had a bird’s eye view into the predicament of melding business with Yoga, having been in the business for quite some time and having worked very closely with me and my husband as we’ve opened and run two studios.
The dance of business and Yoga can be quite messy, and the steps can leave us feeling disheartened and confused. But here is where we, who are in the business, can go a little deeper into the sub-terrain of our own psyche. This sticky area of mixing the spiritual with the pragmatic can be where the business of Yoga grants us the most humbling of gifts: the gift of integration and honesty.
If I had a “real” job where I left my house at 8:30 every morning and went to the office to sit at my professional desk, speaking and relating to people professionally and keeping everything in the professional realm, I’d have a more cut and dry template for business matters.
In a more conventional work environment, the interrelating rules and guidelines are understood and we all respect professional boundaries, which, for the most part, keeps human “issues” (the messy stuff) at bay and left for after-hours. In a way, this sounds amazing (so clean and clear-cut!), yet it can also leave many of us left in the conundrum of compartmentalizing and disconnecting in our lives.
This is a huge part of why many people are drawn to their Yoga mats in the first place—as a place where they can lay down their roles and rules and practice breathing and simply being. They carve out this time to feel what is inside and how they can bridge the different parts of themselves to feel more whole and alive.
This is their place to reflect on their professional and family lives and duties to see what’s really aligned for them: what’s real and what’s superfluous, what’s a priority and what is mere distraction. A Yoga practice is often a platform for people connecting to the courage in their hearts, and over the years of being in the Yoga business I’ve seen many people leave their “professional” jobs and identities to go out and fulfill their true desires.
And here is where I can go deeper into my own experience of Yoga and Business and the Business of Yoga. This is where the lines of professionalism, roles and rules get blurred because this is where the rubber actually meets the road.
In the practice of Yoga we are asked to close our eyes and start the psychic pilgrimage inside. We are asked to feel into our experience and face what’s there. We are asked to look into the layers of our existence and to observe and work with our reactions and habits. If we are on the business side of this ancient practice, it’s no different. We are working with people, and everyone, as we learn in the teachings of Yoga, is a mirror. So, of course, each person we encounter is reflecting back to us our subterranean “work.” Revealing to us what’s unintegrated, disowned, perhaps rejected and denied, for better or worse.
What I’ve seen over the years is that this part of the practice, this part of the business, is where people either stay and get “messy” or walk away and head for the cleaner lines of a “professional” atmosphere. “I can’t deal with the drama” is how one friend put it. “It’s yoga—there shouldn’t be any drama!!” I’ve felt that way many times too. I’ve gossiped about the teacher who said the wrong thing and made one too many mistakes. I’ve judged the yoga studio owner who supposedly wronged someone. I’ve held a grudge against a teacher who worked with me and (I perceived) betrayed me! How dare they?? This is Yoga!!
Yes, it is. This is yoga. This is the practice. Facing this. Facing this mirror. Every mirror. Facing the yearning to want to run back to calmer water and tidier shelter. This is where, if we choose to stay and face whatever we make up about the “business” or the “drama” or “separation of studios and people,” this is where real change and integration can occur.
This rich terrain is where we practice the art of communication and constructive feedback. This is the land of opportunity, and forgiveness; self-responsibility and honesty are some of the seeds we can plant in this fertile ground. This is conscious business in the making. And, if we as a Yoga community can’t or aren’t willing to do it, then how can we expect our larger corporations and government to even try?
The dance of business and Yoga can indeed be quite messy—it may even look “dramatic” at times—but when danced with heart, willingness and vulnerability, it has the potential to move mountains and be
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Travis May
Photo: Wiki Commons