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*Editor’s note: for more information on the CorePower Yoga lawsuit, watch this.
This week, my newsfeed has been peppered with a lot of inflammatory reactions to this article.
“Damn the man!”
“I was wronged!”
“Yoga should be free!”
“Yoga teachers should be paid more!”
Well, I have something to say about this.
First, a reminder. CorePower Yoga is a business. A successful business. They found something that they thought people would pay for, and they were right. Not only do people pay for yoga, they pay for the promise of a lucrative career; they pay for training. They pay for pants!
It is not unethical to sell things to people.
Sales people help me find shoes that fit.
Sales people ask me if I’d like to “supersize” my beverage
(This is called “sales” and it is not evil.)
The house always wins.
How dare you, shoe store! You sold me into two pairs of shoes instead of one. You asked if I might go out on a date! I just wanted to play basketball!
Are you mad because you think yoga should be a spiritual practice?
Are you mad because you believe schools should hire their students?
Are you mad because, not unlike any marketing structure that requires a “downline” to be profitable, you were hoodwinked because the product was sweat and not convenient kitchen storage containers?
If you are interested in the bigger toolbox of yoga, self-inquiry is one that will do the job. What is it, precisely, that you feel?
The question posed in the article—should every American citizen be a yoga teacher—might rightly be answered: if becoming a yoga teacher is part of one’s pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness, then absolutely. And they do not need to take a training anywhere in order to be just that. I have had many wonderful teachers with no formal credentials, and some that didn’t have much to offer despite a veritable cornucopia of letters behind their names.
And, according to many teachers whose opinions I value, we might be just a touch better off if everyone invested $2,000 and/or a few weeks in themselves and learned a few things about self-reflection, meditation, and inner work. The Warrior II, Extended Side Angle, Reverse Warrior is just the dance that gets us in the door.
Two hundred hours does not make a wise, lineage-holding ascetic. And that’s okay.
Time is never wasted.
The article describes “a glut of yoga teachers,” as though this were a problem or a plague, and I assert that it is not. For those seeking a fitness practice, bless you. We are experiencing unprecedented health problems in our Western nations because people do not have a fitness practice.
For those seeking a spiritual practice, bless you. We are experiencing unprecedented addiction and other spiritual maladies because people do not have access to a palatable spiritual practice.
For those seeking a lucrative business practice, bless you. Because that’s actually what yoga teaches—whether these practices are virtuous or wicked, and whether we choose to delight in or disregard them.
We are mixing the taking of a training with preparation of a teacher, a business endeavor with a spiritual practice, a lovely side hustle for many, and a lucrative career for a few. Lemons and elephants, my darlings.
None of us benefits from throwing the other under the bus.
And the solution to the problem is (always) what you can choose to do for yourself.
If you are a yoga teacher, please donate your services to people who cannot access yoga because they are incarcerated or hospitalized. Please do not give away your services to those who can and should pay, whether that be to a company who pays you less than you are worth, or to students who are encouraged to pay less than they can afford. Charge what you are worth, and walk away if you notice a hint of resentment. Do not play that game. It is disrespectful to yourself.
If you are a yoga student, please consider what you are purchasing when you pay for a yoga class and budget accordingly. Every single studio I have ever worked for or practiced with offers opportunities for people to exchange their time for practice if their financial circumstances do not allow them to pay with dollars.
If you are engaging with the free market, you are voting with your dollars. If you pay for something, you are voting for it. Become curious about the companies with whom you do business—ask who makes the pants, where the coffee comes from, how the teachers are compensated (this extends beyond yoga).
If you notice yourself feeling heat at my statement that people can and should pay for yoga, because you think “why would I pay $15 for a yoga class!?!” ask the studio. What happens to that money? How much goes to the teacher? To the room rental? To investors? To charity? You have the power to ask, and vote accordingly. The same applies to coffee, the car dealership, the airline.
If you are unhappy with a product or service you have purchased, say so to the place where you purchased. Explain why. Ask for a refund. Negotiate an alternative, but do not allow the resentment to fester in you and then broadcast your complaints across the internet until you have taken this step. If you are unhappy with a training you took, you are not a victim of your circumstances; you have more information and the responsibility to talk to the manager.
If you are seeking more information, locate a teacher who is offering what you’re looking for. Inquire about studying with them. Be willing to pay for the service you are receiving—it will be an exchange of time, money, and energy. It is up to you to get what you paid for.
Set yourself up for success by being clear about your wants, needs, and expectations. Hold yourself accountable. Vote with your dollars. Share your gifts.
Shift your perspective.
“By cultivating attitudes of friendliness toward the happy, compassion for the unhappy, delight in the virtuous and disregard toward the wicked, the mind-stuff retains its undisturbed calmness.” ~ Yoga Sutras I.33