So you’ve decided to retire as an actor and do something easier: teach yoga. How do you choose, which person or studio offers you the best opportunity for you to succeed in your new career path? There is no right way, only the way you choose. So choose wisely because they both have smiles and frowns.
There are two choices before you get to the moment where the mat becomes your altar, whereby you hold the space to help show ‘students’ how to find their way back into their Self.
The two directions are as follows:
Community is that place where everyone in it strives to help you move forward in your life—it should be a shared breath, a place where we practice together to find what we are looking for. Very often ‘community’ can be a watering hole where competition and insecurity vote with dollars and the latest trends in yoga nothing more then “Let’s all agree we are in the best yoga studio in the city, so the teachers must be the best also.” The big bucks you pay to join must validate the decision to practice there.
Before deciding whether to take their teacher training or to know any community look at its inhabitants. In every major ‘yoga’ community in North America you can go to the city and find the studio that thinks of itself as the top of the yoga caste system. These types of students will find this place wherever they travel. It is the place where the people are ripped with muscles and the competition is to see each other’s bodies and tricks is paramount, and who can do the most limber variations of wrapping their feet around their heads three times while chanting in sanscrit. The breath is always a secondary goal in these classes. “Om” is very often replaced with “ouch.” Not all communities are this way, but most communities adhere to a “join ME” mentality. You all know what I’m referring to—or do you?
But let’s be very clear. You don’t have to be that instructor. I say instructor because there is a big difference between a yoga instructor and a yoga teacher. You can teach in one of the prestige yoga studios in the cities and be the exception. Of course you can, so don’t let the above deter you. There are exceptional teachers teaching in these facilities. But they practice yoga as a way into peace not through a sutra or idea. You just have to seek them out. The bonus experience of taking your teacher training here though is that if you shine, it will take you a heartbeat to be emBEDded with a host of ‘followers’ that can make your life so much easier as a teacher. For the purpose of retreats or privates or even if you’re a musician, you want this since you can generate a following in two seconds. If a following is what you’re looking for, this is a really sound choice.
The downside is these places tend to create a ‘style’ of teachers who talk yoga in a certain way—a brand creating a hierarchy and separation of themselves compared to others even while never saying this out loud. The teachers also must teach in this controlled environment rather than being steered to find and define their own relationship to yoga itself. Again, the teachers that come out of these “corporate communities” are in a really good situation in terms of coming out very well in the business of yoga based on the fact that the graduates are like a minor league system that does work to place them in a position in the company as soon as a spot opens up.
You can’t beat that, can you? Maybe.
The downside to this choice is most of the teachers that I have known who became a part of the various corporate communities at some point discovered that they were in one when they sought to express themselves and quickly found out the politics of being free is that it is not welcome, eventually realizing that the freedom is vitally important and they leave… to a smaller more intimate environment. Back to the teaching.
The second path is frankly, harder, but maybe ultimately more rewarding. The second path is that of the outsider of the community, not because they don’t want to participate in it but don’t necessarily fit the mold. Try selling elderly yoga to your local ‘fit’ yoga studio.
The path less taken, this path whereby many teachers invariably give up because they can’t make a living off of $100 bucks per week, is the one where you say yes to all situations. “Yes, I’ll drive or bus to the suburbs.” “Yes, I’ll start out getting paid $25 per class.” “Yes, I’ll work in a gym environment and teach to 2 students while the manager is showing somebody around during my class.”
It’s the path where you change people’s lives by first changing your own. By thinking out of the box, by trusting that what’s inside of you is enough, by being patient while your cream rises to the top. When it does rise along the way, and people, teachers, students begin to validate you, you don’t get lost in their positive affirmations of who they think you are. You don’t become “important” as a teacher–instead you create a community whereby you help the others who are climbing up, the newbies find jobs, to inspire teachers to carry on if they really want this. Show them, that you are in this too, and that you have to work at not only getting better as a teacher but not trying to ever achieve being considered great, instead you find your greatness and let it be enough.
You don’t want to fit in, you want to fit.
This is the path where you do your 200 hours with someone who can help nurture your unique expression of yoga, to help you extract it and express it clearly, to give you the time to practice in an environment where while you’re learning to teach the others, you know that those others that you’re practicing teaching on are already your future students of the world and that by teaching them well you are now qualified to teach anywhere else in this world. No matter what the world says. This might cost you more money to have someone care that much for you.
So like any good relationship… take your time. And ask as many QUESTions as you need to until you feel it–the spark that inspired you to want to teach in the first place. Whether it was the yoga itself or the teacher shining through what yoga is… don’t choose the style or the studio… choose your way. Or choose the studio and the style and find your way.
Just because one is easier doesn’t make it the right way, but that’s for you to choose to decide.
What’s your experience? How do you see it?