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The Brutal Economics of Being a Yoga Teacher, by Michelle Goldberg

Forward by Theresa Elliott

When I wrote “After 27 Years Teaching Yoga, I Got a Job at the Mall,” I intentionally left the financial aspect out of being a yoga teacher. It was too much to include, too big of an animal to contain, and I had way, way too many feelings that I felt would result in a “sour grapes” read.

Michelle Goldberg contacted me after reading 27 Years. She wanted to write about the very part I could not bring my self to tackle. “How fortuitous,”  I thought. I hoped I might be quoted here and there, so imagine my surprise when the article came out and it was structured around moi.

I sat at my kitchen counter and read it aloud to my partner Sandy. Here was my story, the story of many yoga teachers, laid out by a very skilled writer. Like a horse being led to water, you don’t see where Michelle is leading you until your head is already down in the trough, and the absurdity of what it has become to try and teach yoga comes to a sobering punch line that left me with my head on the table, sobbing and unable to read the final line out loud:

“Just let go.” (That’s not the whole line. That would spoil it, right?)

The catharsis lasted two days. After years of running around, waving my hands in the air yelling, “Warning, Warning, Will Robinson, Danger! Danger! Danger!”,  the story was finally told, and better yet, not by me. I could at long last let go of the chip on my shoulder, and morn the end of an era.

My final teacher training with Pacific Yoga Teacher Training was last year, and starting November 1st I will be on sabbatical from ongoing classes and workshops at Taj Yoga. I feel like I’m going to the bat cave, a bat cave that houses a Big Box Department Store, where I will spend the coming months considering: what’s next?

If you are a yoga teacher or a student, I hope you will take a moment to read this fascinating and arresting look at the changing field of yoga. Link posted below.

— T

The Brutal Economics of Being a Yoga Teacher

by Michelle Goldberg

 

Comments

comments

Posted on Sunday, October 18th, 2015
by Stretch

One Response

  1. Tricia Sletten October 21, 2015 at 3:55 am

    Theresa,
    Like many, I feel indebted to you for sharing your story, your challenges and your heart.

    I have been teaching yoga for about 15 years. This past January, I taught my last group yoga class. I realize now, after reading your article as well as Michelle’s, that I am no longer alone in my disillusion with the current marketing and trappings of “yogaworld”. It is so refreshing to hear others’ stories and experiences. For a long while, I have felt bitter and resentful. Now I feel differently.

    I have made several attempts to leave yoga altogether, but I cannot seem to escape her grasp. The result is that my teaching has evolved and continues to mature outside of the studio system. I am slowly building a private yoga and Ayurveda practice. It’s far from self-supporting, but I’m confident that with time I can create a thriving business for myself. I feel so blessed to be able to do this work, and yet the truth is it’s a financial struggle; it’s scary. I worry about how yoga will continue to morph in the West and how that will impact my work and teaching.

    For now, I will relish this feeling of having compatriots.

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