As someone who cares deeply about the future of this tradition and the health of this planet, I have something very urgent to say to you and I wish to say it as if I were sitting there in the room with you. As a yoga teacher, your value to this world is not your ability to regurgitate the proper alignment of a pose, nor is it your ability to blindly spread “light and positivity.” Your value is your authentic voice and your ability to transfer the deep aspects of yoga. This can only happen by being vulnerable. Yoga has become watered down. It’s not all about positivity and light.
Your yoga practice was likely born out of struggle. Share that. Share the stories of how you came to yoga, who influenced you, and where it all comes from.Share your peak experiences. Relive them with others. Share the deepest, rawest parts of yourself. You will be shocked by what happens. Though they don’t know how to voice it, this is what your students are asking of you. They look up to you as a guide to connect them back to themselves, and the best way to do this is to be vulnerable.
Do not water down what you know to be true, do not feel you have to teach less than what you know. You do not need anyone’s blessing to do this and there is no “correct” way to teach yoga. There is only authenticity. Yoga is transmitted not through your words but by your way of being. Share it with confidence.
I understand your dilemma. Nobody’s going to come to your classes if you teach weird shit. On the other hand, it’s hard to stay inspired when not sharing from your heart. It’s hard to find a balance between sharing authentically what inspires you with what is being demanded by the general market.
We are living in a unique time, the age where yoga will spread to the masses. It is still in its very introductory phase, however. We are laying the foundation for its future, and this ancient practice is at risk of being significantly watered down. Yes, yoga is watered down. What we practice here in the west is not actually yoga as it was intended. This is not bad, as it’s peaking interest. But please, do not stop here. Push your students to go deeper. As torch-bearers of this ancient practice, I believe it is our responsibility to inspire students to look for this depth. Inspire them to dig wells, not potholes. Inspire them to go within themselves, as you have. This is the true practice. The Buddha said the only mistakes to make on the spiritual path is to never start or to not go far enough.
And if you have any fear this will hurt your career, don’t. It will, in fact, help it. Specialization is important, and connecting with your truth will make you unique. If everyone is pushing me-too classes, the inspiration that is fueling the growth of this industry will fade. It may be hard to see this in the short-term, I have firm conviction your pockets will also only be served by this.
If you share this inner fire we have for the authenticity of yoga, please contact me. We are looking for you. If you are looking learn to learn yoga this way, we at East+West would be delighted to guide you.