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Abundance Mentality And Yoga Careers

in YogOpinions

cosmic-abundanceby J. Brown

Continuing education for yoga teachers is in high demand since the proliferation of yoga teacher training certification has reached epic proportions. No one expects someone to be seasoned after merely two hundred hours, and technological advancements have enabled newfound access and resources to anyone with an internet connection. More than just a knowledge of yoga, or adjunct skills for teaching, these offerings often purport to give practical career advice that will help graduates succeed financially. Unfortunately, business advice for “yogapreneurs” is often grossly misguided.

Now that yoga teacher training is such an essential part of a yoga center’s ability to survive, and completion of the programs sometimes requires little more than attendance, a sea of certificates has flooded the market. For as long as I can remember, I have inquired into the prior practice experience of every new student who comes to my daily drop-in classes. And the percentage of people who sheepishly reply: “Actually, I did a 200 hour training” has become undeniably striking. Even more telling is how often the misgivings about the trainings are written in the embarrassed or shameful expressions on their faces.

Anyone who claims to have the keys to a successful yoga career is full of it.

Having made my living in the yoga profession for more than twenty years now, and discussed it with a wide range of those who have come before and after me on Yoga Talks Podcast, I am convinced that no one is immune to the changing times and economics. Just the other day, I came across a Facebook post from a long-established teacher who was making a public confession that he is no longer identifying as a yoga teacher. That it had become unviable as a livelihood, and resorting to licensed massage therapy for income to survive was necessary.

Even seminal teachers, who charted the course for yoga in the mainstream, are having to face the fact that yoga business has become scaled to the extent that long-standing institutions of yoga can no longer always compete. As independent centers are acquired by new mega models, and the yoga-going public is looking for more of a spa experience then a spiritual education, those who have managed to garner any amount of notoriety are leveraging their reputations in the new world of online video and training intensives.

Nothing could be more disingenuous than convincing people that creating a mentality of abundance, or a cadre of social media profiles, leads to prosperity in the yoga profession.

With all the uncertainty and shifting in the economic landscape, earnest practitioners who have sought yoga as a life direction, and completed a training, are being heavily marketed to courses in professional development. It’s quite ironic the way some people are looking to build a yoga career on teaching others how to have a yoga career. Especially when their success as a yoga professional did not come about through many years of grinding the pavement as a teacher, but was arrived at or bestowed by other fortuitous means.

Shifting your mentality around money might be a good thing to do but doesn’t change the odds, or teach you how to play the game effectively. Despite honest efforts to distill and make it more practical, the dark art of making money has always been elusive. Creating false expectations, and then playing into them, is certainly an effective way to sell things. Sometimes these means hope to be justified by well-intentioned positive ends. But while the benefits of yoga are certainly helpful, and sometimes crucial, in creating a life that is healthy and prosperous, you can’t just envision your monthly rent into existence.

Yoga careers start with practice, and are determined by life’s situations.

Everyone I know who is managing to make their way in the yoga profession is doing so not because they have mastered an abundance mentality that is allowing them to manifest their dreams. Almost always, being a yoga professional was not the original intent. They started out just wanting to practice and find themselves. Often, that process created changes in both behavior and life situation. Sometimes those changes led to relationships that, in turn, meant taking on the role of being a yoga teacher. Being effective in business does require smart strategy, and teachers are wise to seek the counsel of others. But successful careers in yoga are a by-product of practice more than an attainable goal.

As we continue to navigate through uncharted territories, likely facing a continuation of pressures and ongoing struggle, let us not kid ourselves that anyone has answers for anyone outside of themselves. And may each us of find a source of strength and fortitude from within, such that we might become less susceptible to manipulations and the tyranny by others of less than admirable persuasion. Our power lies most in our humanness. For if, or when, the systems fail and tragedy befalls, treating each other with honesty and transparency, in our hearts and minds and bodies, will surely be our only saving grace.

J. Brown is a yoga teacher, writer, podcaster and founder of Abhyasa Yoga Center in Brooklyn, NY. His writing has been featured in Yoga Therapy Today, the International Journal of Yoga Therapy, and across the yoga blogosphere. Visit his website at jbrownyoga.com



10 comments… add one
  • PS in NY

    Thank you for being one of the rare honest voices in a world of BS.

  • skrab

    I did a 200-hour TT program because I wanted to advance my practice. I did not take the final exam because I didn’t have any interest in teaching. I wish there were opportunities for advanced yoga study that do not emphasize teaching. Many people find themselves in TT because it really is the only opportunity for advance study.

    • Yes, Skrab I so agree, I would like an intensive training over a period of time, but also am not really considering being a teacher. TT seems the only available option which is a missed opportunity in my opinion

    • Jenifer

      This is absolutely true, and I’ve pointed it out many times — it’s an untapped market. But, it’s something that keeps my studio going (just providing more in-depth opportunities for students to learn and develop their practice).

  • I am a 200 hr teacher with now 9 years of yoga teaching experience. Never have made a living teaching yoga. I read, attend local workshops and practice, practice, practice. There are now so many workshops and trainings on various yoga websites/online that is mind boggling! Only thing is, I can’t afford them! I would love to enhance my teaching/personal practice but budgetary constraints won’t support this. What a shame!

  • S.

    Too many teachers. Not enough students. Everyone wants to serve their ego and be a teacher until they realize how hard it is, then they just flake or sell you DoTerra. The $4000 YTTs have saturated to the point that they are now on Udemy. Yoga Journal has a sponsored post on FB on how to boost your passive income with thousands of robotic people signing up for online workshops. MLM par excellence! We have lost our way to what yoga truly is in realizing the self and merging to Ishwara. Best way to counter this trend? Support your neighborhood (non Corepower) yoga studio, practice and study on your own, give up the idea that yoga is a profession. All will be just fine. Otherwise, Yoga will go the way of the spin class.

  • There are actually hot yoga and yoga online courses http://mytrendexpert.com/2016/11/12/online-yoga-courses/

    People will probably go less and less to yoga classes because people simply don’t have the time anymore.

  • I’ve been a yoga teacher for 10 years and have to bite my tongue when teachers fresh out of the 200-hour programs say, “There are enough students for everyone. We can all have success!” I want to say that the only way to succeed is to do your practice, find your teaching voice and be honest in your teaching. But in reality, making cool playlists and getting followers on Instagram is becoming equally important in developing a base of students.

  • Thanks for the blog

    Its truly said that yoga is the best form of exercise for piece of mind,

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