August 23, 2015

“So, Do You Have a Real Job?”—A Yoga Teacher’s Answer.

"IMG_6841," The Yoga People, Flickr

My new job is amazing.

I work at a resort in Hawaii.

My major responsibilities include: teaching yoga on a floating dock, posting pictures to Facebook, taking hotel guests either stand-up-paddle (SUP) boarding or kayaking and accompanying guests on a pontoon boat ride to snorkel and play on the bay.

Basically, I get paid to have fun.

Of course, it’s not always rosy. I’ve been sunburned, and the work is physically demanding. Oh, and putting on yoga pants is super difficult after going snorkeling.

In general though, I’m having a blast. Sure, it may get old or I may find the physicality too difficult in time, but for now and for the first time ever, I look forward to going to work.

Recently I took a guest out on the water and we chatted casually about this and that. Then she asked me:

“So, did you used to have a real job?”

I didn’t know really what to say. This is my real job. I get paid to do it.

The question led me to question what exactly about my current position is not seen as valid? I’ve had to take specific trainings to develop certain skill sets. Like most people, I wasn’t born with the intrinsic ability to do a perfect down dog, and I definitely had no concept of how to cue any posture. All of that came with training. Most importantly, I was trained in how to keep students safe in class to avoid injuries.

While my current job is both fun and sounds idyllic, I’m charged with guest safety in yoga classes, as well on the open water. This is a major responsibility, especially as there is often a language barrier.

It bothered me that my work, awesome though it may be, wasn’t considered “real.”

I reached out to some of my yogi friends and many of them echoed similar experiences. One friend, Courtney, mentioned that when she teaches yoga at resorts, people sometimes ask:

“What else do you do, hun?”

Courtney is an adult woman who deserves to be treated with respect, not a “hun” or “honey.” She’s also a dedicated and professional yoga teacher. That is what she does. To some, though, it’s incomprehensible that someone would dedicate themselves to a non-traditional career.

After my initial offense at the devaluation of my job subsided, I realized that there may be some jealousy involved.

To many, yoga is a luxury. Typical yoga classes at a studio in the United States cost around $12 for a drop-in. Large metropolitan areas charge even more. In Honolulu, some drop-in classes charge $25. Yoga is understandably something often associated with affluence.

Pursuing yoga as a career may seem like an indulgence to some (although the typical yoga teacher won’t get rich from yoga alone.)

It’s also true that folks are often wary of (or even hostile towards) things that are different.

Fitness and yoga careers are on the rise but are still nowhere near the norm. Having the freedom to determine a flexible schedule and engaging in physical activity at work instead of sitting at a desk from nine to five every day can easily incite envy.

Choosing a non-traditional vocation challenges the social norm and often makes people who adhere to traditional employment uncomfortable.

It’s not my job though to make others value or validate my choices.

That has been my most important takeaway.

My job in life is to be happy and contented with the decisions I make and avenues I travel. I am happy teaching yoga. I am content knowing that even though I may never attain fame and riches, I’m growing as a person while helping others advance on their own yoga journeys.



What Your Yoga Teacher is Really Thinking at the End of Class.


Author: Julie Zack Yaste

Editor: Khara-Jade Warren

Image: The Yoga People/ Flickr

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