Modern American Yoga (TM)

IMG_0334I no longer write as prolifically as I once did.  I started this blog in 2005 and the Yoga Blogosphere as changed tremendously in 10 years.  Modern Yoga Bloggers have forgotten whom their elders are.

What some bloggers write about now I wrote about 3, 5, even 7 years ago: ageism, diversity, “slow yoga.”  “Slow Yoga” is a thing now (Google it) and I’ve been teaching slow since 2005 when I first came back from the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram in India.  The more things change, the more they stay the same.

But sometimes things scream to be called out and discussed.

A long time, old school yoga teacher told me that where she’s from a yoga studio requires newbie teachers to “brand” themselves before finishing a one month yoga teacher training, i.e., make a website, a Facebook page, social media presence, etc., etc. etc.

Do the math.  If a large city has 1000+ YTTs, old school teachers like her and I are doomed.

BRANDING before teaching.

BRANDING before experiencing.

BRANDING before Living Your Yoga.

When I did my first website it took me 6 months to write my yoga bio.  Even after I studied in India the first time I thought that if I wrote too much about myself it would look like I was bragging.

Some people say that social media is the new normal. But I believe in what Buckminster Fuller said:

“In order to change an existing paradigm you do not struggle to try and change the problematic model. You create a new model and make the old one obsolete.”

Believe me, I try. But I’m tired.  Damn tired.  I believe in old school yoga teacher training, mentoring.  But my mentoring page is the loneliest page on my website.  I am not concerned with offering a standard 200 or 300 hour training because I believe in quality, not quantity.  Unfortunately, that’s not good for business because people chase the piece of paper that proclaims them a certified yoga teacher.  I can easily put together a 200 or 300 hour training based on 10 years of notes from the Mandiram alone.  But frankly, no one is interested.  Here.  I believe it takes 10 years of yoga teaching to learn how to teach besides having a dedicated personal yoga and meditation practice.  No one wants to hear that.

Like in real estate, it’s about location, location, location.  All I know is that in my area yoga teachers are a dime a dozen.  With yoga studios cranking out new teachers every week, there is no place for Yoga Elders.  I’m not whining, I’m just being realistic.

So I’m leaving.  Done, baby.  I’m going somewhere where what I teach is valued and appreciated.  One of my students gave me a testimonial:

 “Linda is Yoga. Living, breathing, in every aspect. Caring, supportive, knowledgeable, fun-loving, she walks the talk.”

That’s why I’m leaving.  Because I have too much passion for what I do if that makes any sense.

Goddess willing, I’ll live in Kerala, India by the end of next year and into 2017.  I’ve already started to look at houses to rent with space to teach.  I’ve been asked to do teacher trainings in India.  When I’m in India and I am asked what I do and I say “I’m a yoga teacher” people actually have respect for that.  They ask me who my guru is instead of telling me, “I do Pilates.”  No one asks  me what style of yoga do I teach.  I’m asked not to leave, to stay and teach, to help people.  No one pillories me for using the phrase “real yoga.”

Yeah, I said it.  REAL YOGA.  I’ve always said the real yoga kicks in during a health crisis or dealing with your own mortality. My yoga sadhana helped me through an ovarian cancer scare years ago.  It made me realize that “I am not this body” and it brought me peace.  When my time comes I’ll be chanting and doing pranayama, Goddess willing.  Thanks to my friend Cora Wen for making this beautiful video.

But what Cora talks about in her video, you can’t brand it.  You can’t Instagram it,  You can’t trademark it.

You can only live it.  Because Yoga is Life.

11 thoughts on “Modern American Yoga (TM)

  1. I felt your sense of frustration and sadness in this post. Despite the teems of newbie “branded” yoga teachers spewed out each minute thanks to Yoga Alliance, I think you are far from doomed as a yoga teacher. Notice how many flash in the pan teachers last more than two years. Not many. The same forces they are using to get “branded” work just as viciously against them when the new-newest teacher comes around. It’s both sad and amusing to hear teachers who have been around less than five years complain about all the “new” teachers. This is the karma of quick fame without doing much inner work required in a legitimate sadhana.

    You have a beautiful plan to get a house in India with space to teach. Simple. Authentic. You. I’m sure your students will grow and so will your contentment in teaching this art.

    Many blessings to you.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. LOVE. THIS.

    you are a soul sister, indeed.

    will your husband join you in india or are you flying solo, baby?

    i’m beyond excited for this next phase on the journey, your path, linda.

    we hope you write from india.

    buon viaggio . . . . . p

    Date: Sat, 7 Nov 2015 15:41:32 +0000 To: fujirox@hotmail.com

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Gosh, I had so many reactions reading this — it’s sad, frustrating, inspiring, but also a little off-putting. I write from the perspective of a student who is weighing up YTT and fighting shy of the teaching band-wagon. But we must all start somewhere. Some of the newly-branded, inexperienced students do go to be awesome teachers, right? They have to find their way in the path of teaching as in their own yoga.

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    1. First, babycrow, thank you for stopping by and reading.

      Second, as for off-putting, as you said, I’m glad. That means my writing made you think. LYJ has always been about questioning modern yoga’s status quo and thinking outside the usual paradigm of modern yoga. My post is not questioning the fact that inexperienced teachers can’t start from somewhere. My post is a commentary on the modern phenonenom of branding, or as the old school yoga teacher told me, a studio that requires a newbie teacher, even before finishing a YTT to brand herself. Why? Before gaining experience?

      As another long time yoga teacher told me, in her opinion, yoga trainings are fine for info/supplementing but are not all-inclusive. you simply don’t have a clue about yoga until you have actually practiced daily for many years. A.G. Mohan, a student of Krishnamacharya said, “There is a lot of confusion in the yoga world today – it is not that yoga teachers and students aren’t sincere, but they are sincerely confused.”

      I wish you well on your yoga journey.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for the reply. I’m clearly not as immersed in this as you and others but I wonder if there’s also a market expectation for this kind of branding. I mean it might not be the studio requiring it as much as them acknowledging that if new teachers want work (and the experience that real teaching offers) you need to brand yourself. The ‘customers’ expect it and social media is how we advertise in today’s world. I’m not saying it’s good, just that it is as it is.
        Whatever is going on at this end of the market, I sincerely hope this doesn’t mean no room for ‘yoga elders’…

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  4. I just sat down with my coffee on a Sunday to read through emails and get to this, because when Linda speaks, I like to give it my full attention.

    Linda, your truth (and no bullshit delivery) has always spoken to me since connecting to your blog via a Melbourne teacher 4 years ago. I relinquished my teaching path for the reasons you speak of about the brand, package and market style that dominates and that I was forced into as soon as I completed my course (no ‘drive through’ certification either, 600 hours over 18 months plus I did extra practical hours voluntarily). I was still a young yogi in terms of my years of practice and I didn’t have the gumption to push past my lack of knowledge and experience to put myself out there in a way that wasn’t honest or ‘me’. It was too much of an imposition on my integrity and all the ‘other stuff’ that was required was an annoying distraction that took me away from the practice itself, but seemed it was a necessary evil in order to make a living from it. I still practice at home weekly and am very selective if I’m going to part with money if I do decide to go to a class. It’s been years since I found a teacher that I truly resonated with and wanted to continue to learn from and share in practice with. That’s effin sad!!

    As for you Linda, your unwavering dedication to teaching real yoga and sharing your knowledge, especially to vulnerable people like trauma sufferers, is admirable and something that all who have come into contact with you are grateful for. You have continued to share your candid self reflections during difficult personal times (injury, illness and family matters) and stayed true to the real practices and importantly, your self, by never selling out.

    Do keep us up to date as this spectacular next endeavour unfolds. You might not have a million followers or be Insta famous but those who have connected with you over these years value your offerings and want to learn from you no matter where you are in the world. Your reach may not be expansive on a scale that is recognised (yet) but your impact has carved deep into to those you have.

    I bow to you humble warrior.
    Carmen

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Carmen, thank you SO MUCH for your kind words and for continuing to read this blog. You have NO IDEA how much both mean to me! Metta metta metta, to you!

      Like

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