After 5 Years of Teaching Yoga, I Wonder: What’s the Purpose?

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Photo by MARK ADRIANE on Unsplash

I feel like the yoga industry is a rat race.

I only teach one class a week.

I don’t know if the class is helping anyone.

There are tons of yoga teachers out there and more graduate from 200- and 300-hour programs every day. It’s a big job market and it’s competitive.

Over the past five and a half years, I’ve subbed and auditioned at many studios. You need a resume, yoga and CPR certificates, cover letter and a routine with music.

In my case, I also needed to take time off from my regular job. All I asked for in return was an answer.

Ya, right.

I guess for some, teaching and practicing yoga doesn’t include common courtesy. Sorry, but I found this to be true. It’s really discouraging when you’re dissed by a fellow yogi.

If a yogi can’t do the right thing, then who can?

So here I am after five years into it with one gig teaching Community Yoga at a local studio. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad I have it and appreciate the opportunity.

I remind my class every week that I’ll see them next week if there are at least three people who are interested in coming. Every Thursday I send out e-mails and text messages to a list of 17 students. Believe it or not, on occasion, almost all of them have showed-up.

I send my plea out into cyber space.

And wait.

I vacillate between, “Hurry-up and answer so I can confirm” to “Screw it, I’ll have another glass of wine and sleep in.”

I also need to determine who will bail.

This is my time people, don’t you get it? I don’t mind not making a lot of money or having just a few people in class, but waiting in an empty studio for people who aren’t going to show is a waste of my time, and sleep.

Apologies texted after the fact don’t exactly bring out the Namaste in me.

Which brings me to my last point: as a yogi, if you’re not practicing consistently, it’s not benefitting you. So, what’s the point in my putting in all this effort?

Good question.

I remember during my teacher training, asking my teacher what you do when and if no one shows-up to your class. The teacher was honest and told us it would happen. There’s nothing you can do. It happens to almost everyone.

But if people say they are coming, this should not be the case.

And when people are enthusiastic, ecstatic even, and disappear for weeks at a time, you have to wonder if you’re getting through to them.

I understand life happens, but it’s frustrating to plan a class, while in the back of your mind you know you might not be teaching it at all, or you might have to modify and gear to a different level altogether.

It’s the student’s class, after all, and I want them to get something out of it. So yes, I do modify. A lot.

I love to teach. And I like my students. But I work 40-hours a week and feel that my Saturday mornings might be better spent sleeping, cleaning or most importantly, writing.

The yoga industry has been disillusioning.

And again, to all my inconsistent yogis, practicing once in awhile really isn’t that beneficial.

I’ll be honest. I’m conflicted. Should I stay or should I go?

Here’s an honest list of things that might get me a class or two and relight my fire.

Post more on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to advertise my community class.

Do separate posts for teaching private classes.

Continue to check the Yoga Open Subs page on Facebook.

Continue to try to get on sub lists.

As part of my “housekeeping” tell students I teach private classes.

Stop whining. Be positive. Like attracts like.

It’s not that I’ve never done any of the above. I have posted and promoted myself throughout the years, just not recently. It just didn’t seem to help.

I know that no matter how long you’ve been teaching yoga, you’ve got to expect fluctuations in attendance, especially walk-in and community classes.

You’ve got to expect: enthusiasm followed by periods of absence; to modify your class plan; and absences during school vacations, Christmas holidays, and the summer.

There’s nothing you can do.

The only thing you can control is your attitude. Yes, I am doing some positive self talk here. I can only change me. I can appreciate that the glass is at least half, okay well maybe a quarter, full, and enjoy it.

I can’t expect the industry to slow down. Yoga is big business. And I can’t expect people not to be people. They’re doing their best.

However, I am doing my best as well.

The only benefit to me at this point is the joy of teaching yoga and sharing my vision of it. My vision is: it’s for everyone. No one should feel they can’t do yoga due to level of experience, age, physical limitations, and that good old thing we yogis just love, flexibility.

As a teacher, that flexibility has to be in my mind, my attitude, and my approach.

I still have some thinking to do and writing this has helped me thrash it out a bit. So, until I’m 100% sure I can walk away from teaching yoga, I will continue with my routine e-mails and text messages.

And whining.

The beauty of it is, I will always have yoga. Even if I don’t teach, I will always practice. It’s one of the loves of my life.

Thanks and don’t forget to breathe.

Written by

Marilyn is a writer, yogi, and spiritual medium. Her favorite people are animals, especially ones that meow. She loves the ocean and hates one-use plastic.

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