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February 7, 2024

Yoga Teachers: Can We Stop Competing with One Another?

We’re on the same team.

I get it—the current yoga industry has pitted us against one another in the grab for the all-mighty dollar, but can we put the ancient practice of yoga into play and remember that we are here to connect and create community, not project the privilege we have of who we studied with and where we studied?

I follow a lot of yoga teachers and studios on social media. It can be a space of inspiration and empowerment. I love to see sequences other teachers are putting together or the incorporation of props in new ways or reminders of including yogic philosophy into the asana practice and how it is all interwoven.

I love seeing what other teachers and practitioners are up to, what classes they are teaching, how they are interacting with social justice, what retreats they are hosting, and how they are bringing yoga to the wider world.

But following studios and teachers can also bring out a side of competition in all of us—which is not the goal of yoga at all, nor does it create a sense of connection.

Let me give you an example:

One studio I follow was highlighting their teachers by posting pictures and bios on their Instagram page. I think this is wonderful to get to know your teachers and have studios support their internal community. Most of us who teach just really want to teach and it can be hard to create community by ourselves. (Big shoutout to studio owners who support their teachers.) It can also be intimidating as a student to walk into a studio not knowing what to expect.

However, the entire bio was written as an advertisement for why they were the best person for the job of teaching yoga, and I was not left feeling any sense of connection to this particular teacher.

“My 200 hour was with {insert name here}. My 300 hour was with {insert name and institute here}. I trained under {insert name here}. I worked with {insert name here}.” 

We’ve all seen these bios. Maybe we even have written one like this. Admittedly, my bio on my business website does include links to people’s pages I have studied with because I believe in their training and what I received from working with them. In the event that others are interested in deepening their practice, I like to provide information that was valuable to me. That is what a website is for. Knowledge sharing.

My bio for the studio I work with, however, is much simpler and provides an overview of me as a person and why/when yoga sought me out. How I wrote my bio for those who are interested in practicing with me was based on the energy I care to share when I teach, not about who taught me.

Let’s be honest. For the most part, yoga practitioners are not going to know who you are talking about in your bio. A majority of practitioners do not know the lineage of yoga, the most sought-after teachers and programs, or the ashrams throughout the world. They are looking for a class that works with their schedule, one that fits their skill level, and one that fits the energy they are looking to bring on a certain day.

To me, a bio focused on the who and where of your learning journey gives a sense of importance to you as a yoga teacher. It’s a showcase of privilege and does not truly exemplify the type of teacher that you are. It is an opportunity to list your accomplishments in comparison to other teachers local to you, instead of listing the ways yoga has influenced your life and why you are bringing it to your community. A bio like that is competitive in nature. And that’s not to say that who you trained with isn’t valuable information. It can be. But that is not the totality of who you are as a teacher. Your own being comes into play as well.

Not everyone can fly across the world and study in India, even if we desperately want to. Training with sought-after teachers often requires money, time, and travel—which is not available to everyone who wishes to teach and share the gift of yoga. And to be truthful, you could train with a Swami and still be a terrible yoga teacher. We see it all the time on social media—yoga teachers who sexualize yoga, who body-shame, who focus only on asana, who don’t continue their learning after YTT is completed, who don’t honor the ancient practice. Is this a “good” yoga teacher? Should people be flocking to that class, simply because this teacher trained under X?

The competition in the yoga community is overwhelming. And bios are just one piece of it.

Maybe it’s time to reconsider how we are approaching our teaching journey and why we are here. Is it to prove we have more students in our class than the next person? Or is it an extension of our own yogic practice and an opportunity to connect?

Our individual uniqueness is undervalued right now. Each journey to become a teacher is different and should be celebrated!

That story is what will resonate with practitioners and is what will resonate with fellow teachers. Part of the journey should be to lift others up and highlight their stories.

Look, I know I’m not the yoga teacher for everyone. My energy is not meant for everyone to enjoy and vibe with. But if I know your story and how you teach and the energy you bring to your classes, not just who you trained with, I will likely suggest a student take a class with you instead. That’s okay with me. I don’t need a room full of people. One student is enough if what I’m saying resonates with them and I’m teaching from an authentic space.

Because this is a community and should be. We’re on the same team. We are all trying to bring more awareness into the world and we have to work together to do that. We know our interconnectedness is present, so please stop fighting it by competing. You don’t have to.

You are enough all by yourself.

~

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