The yoga industry is at a crossroads. Studios are shutting down; yoga teachers are losing their jobs. The world, and the yoga community, is re-examining racial inequality, social injustice, prevalent sexual harassment, and the spiritual bypassing of yogis and yoga teachers.
We are all talking about it. We are all thinking about it. But that’s not enough.
It’s time to stop talking and start doing.
However, I’m not here to call upon the invisible forces of a yogic governing body. I’m not looking for a top-down approach where an organization gives us guidelines and tells us what to do. I’m looking for change from inside the yoga industry — and that starts with each individual, our yoga teachers.
I know the type of yoga industry I want to be a part of — an industry that values yoga, good pay for teachers, affordable continuing education, diversity, cultural appreciation, ethics and community over competition.
I want to be part of a yoga teacher industry that:
- Recognizes the people working in the industry, not just the teachers with the most Instagram followers
- Values all the limbs of yoga, not just physical fitness or asana
- Doesn’t take advantage of yoga teachers with non-compete contracts
- Supports yoga teachers and trains them as community leaders
It’s time we change the yoga industry from the inside. When we change from within, we will elevate ourselves, our students and our greater community.
Yoga teachers are capable of making a tremendous impact in their communities as they touch and enhance so many lives every single day. I believe that by uniting together as a community and industry, we can empower each other to make real lasting change in our world. And it starts by coming together and engaging in critical conversations.
Here are six ways you can start to change the industry from within:
- Find a community of like-minded professionals either online or in-person. Join the Yoga Teacher Conf Mighty Network where we are having these discussions. You can also talk with other yoga teachers in your community. I usually like to start with the question, “What is your favorite and least favorite part of being a yoga teacher?”
- Listen to podcasts that are focused on diversity, continuing education and community support. These are some of my favorite: Yoga Is Dead, The Connected Yoga Teacher, Let’s Talk Yoga and Accessible Yoga Podcast.
- Take additional teacher trainings and workshops from local, highly trained teachers around you, not just celebrities.
- Question everything. When you learn something new, ask why. Why is the foot planted at 90 degrees in Warrior II? Next, ask how you can apply it to your teaching. If a teacher can’t answer the questions whyand how, then find a teacher who can.
- Think of yourself as a business owner and consider teaching outside of the studio model where you can increase your impact as a teacher.
- Create your own yoga teacher code of ethics. Include things like “I will not seek to fulfill my needs at the expense of my students” and “I agree to represent my qualifications honestly and provide only the services I am qualified and certified to teach.” Find other examples online.
Yoga teachers, it’s time to elevate ourselves and achieve our highest good so we can inspire and guide others to find and achieve that in themselves.
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