5 Reasons Why Yoga Teachers Need to Connect During COVID

I’ve been interviewing and doing research with yoga teachers and yoga business owners, and it’s astounding how little we network with one another. The push back I’ve received from yoga teachers invited into the interview process has opened my eyes. We are gifted at guiding our students and connecting with our smaller circle, but we just don’t reach out with our peers. Why? I have a hunch as to why we don’t, but let’s focus on why we should.

I love to observe behaviors and process what I see. That’s the philosopher in me. Prior to COVID, we had our little yoga studio bubbles. We were great at marketing to bring students into our brick and mortar studios. We may have had a small presence online, but most of what we did was in our local communities. Then the pandemic hit and it’s shaken up the entire yoga industry. Now we are all trying to determine how we can be ourselves, keep our businesses alive, serve our clients, and stay healthy. Let’s discuss the 5 Reasons Why Yoga Teachers Need to Connect During COVID.

1. Let’s learn from each other.

“Asking for help with shame says: You have the power over me. Asking with condensation says: I have the power over you. But asking for help with gratitude says: We have the power to help each other.” ~ Amanda Palmer, Author of The Art of Asking

Why should thousands of us each try to figure it out on our own, when we can network, share ideas, and walk hand-in-hand to serve the world? We signed up to serve and promote unity, yet we build walls and feel the need to protect our name, our brand, our style, our gift so that it’s not copied or stolen. In my opinion, we need to get over ourselves. No significant trade secret is going to bring anyone down by supporting each other and growing ourselves along with the industry. With all that we promote online, we are already virtually stalking each other. There’s very little to hide. Why not unite and help each other? It’s a lonely and uncertain time as it is. Why should we separate even more when we were gifted the expertise of unity, kindness, and abundance? We can learn from each other. That’s powerful and an act of giving.

2. We get to shape the evolving yoga industry.

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” ~ Anais Nin, Writer

What an incredible gift we have been given – COVID-19. We get to determine how to move forward and expand ourselves and our businesses. We get to expand our clientele because we are moving more and more online. We are no longer confined to our brick and mortar building. Now imagine the projects and growth we can experience when we partner with others? Finding another yoga teacher with either a similar focus or someone with a completely different focus can lead to amazing ideas. Brainstorming sessions among like-minded people who have similar lenses can be fantastic! Even more so with those who see life through a different lens.

Everyone involved could expand their minds, their personal practices, their service offerings, and their businesses. But, we are too afraid. We’ve forgotten the idea of abundance. We’ve forgotten the idea of unity. Organizations like BNI, Business Network International, base their entire platform on the idea of building networks, making referrals, and helping each other out. What if we as yoga teachers made positive referrals to one another and helped each other grow our business? Um, remember karma?

3. We are significant role models.

“If your actions create a legacy that inspires others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, then, you are an excellent leader.” ~ Dolly Parton, Singer/Songwriter

We know we are leaders every time we step onto our mat and into the classroom to teach. Our students seek our leadership, our guidance, our stories, our sequences, our wisdom. When we were in our yoga teacher training programs, we held onto our master teachers’ every word. To this day, we look up to master teachers and others who we identify as key role models in our lives.

Guess what? Similarly, our students are watching us. They watch how we play nice with each other and when we don’t. They can sense when we are trying hard to make ends meet, when the rent is due, and when attendance numbers are down. They feel our energy and it either resonates or doesn’t. It affects our attendance numbers and our bottom line.

As a professional coach and a yoga instructor, I love opportunities to connect with my peers, whether casually or professionally. To open myself up to others, I get to find myself and it always spills over into my teaching. When I hear of the challenges and successes of others, it fills me up and enhances my success too. The greatness in my teaching and my business is the direct result of my internal work as well as my connection with others. We are role models and we are transparent. Don’t be afraid to connect with other yoga teachers. It’s ok to learn from and lean on each other. Coffee dates, even virtual, are inexpensive and quite powerful. Who knows the partnership that may result.

4. Just like our students, we need connections and to feel a part of something larger than ourselves.

“Your connections to all the things around you literally define who you are.” ~Aaron D. O’Connell, American Experimental Quantum Physicist

Social distancing and shutdowns created a huge gap in our ability to socialize and connect. Maintaining a six-foot distance significantly influenced our ability to touch and be touched by others. The pandemic has led us to the an epidemic of loneliness. Even teaching and interacting with our students feels like we are giving more than we are receiving. It’s a one-way form of love to our students. How are we receiving and connecting? We can’t ignore our own need for connection. It reduces our risk of depression and disease. Now is a great time to connect with our peers who fully understand our woes for they are feeling it too. In doing so, recognize how significantly we are needed right now. The universe needs our help and let’s do it together, rather than in silos. Let us unite for the greater good.

5. We signed up to serve without expectation and without attachment.

“The key to any lasting contentment is learning to see and accept reality for what it is and then acting skillfully, rather than reacting when reality fails to conform to our expectations.” Bhava Ram, The 8 Limbs of Yoga

Yoga is not a competition. Yoga is not about me versus you. Yoga is not about who can earn the most, have the most followers, and make the most money. Yoga is a gift. Yoga is abundant. Yoga in unity. It’s a gift we share with the world in what we think, what we say, and what we do. Let us not forgot, it’s about how to be.

I invite you to release all expectations and to connect, grow, and love without attachment. Observe what it does for yourself and your business. Watch how your connections with your peers helps them and you. Witness the shift in the yoga industry and be a part of the conversation rather than on the sidelines. Be the change you wish to see in the world. Now is the time. Namaste

If you’d like the opportunity to personally connect with Dr. Jennifer Culver, feel free to reach out. Let’s network and connect. You may even be invited in (virtually) for an interview.

Aparigraha: Non-Attachment

The 5th Yama is Aparigraha (non-attachment), as part of Pajanjali’s 8 Limbs of Yoga. As yoga teachers, we see attachment and it’s opposite as we watch our yoga students walk onto their mat and then again as they step off and back into their day. We teach the idea of non-greed and not getting attached to any one thing or experience, be it feelings, people, situations, food, etc. But in so many ways, we are struggling to detach in this crazy shift of 2020.

Social Media. I’m reminding myself to “take only what I need” as I receive feedback from my offerings and perspective and as I watch where our world is growing and falling apart at the same time. I gave myself permission yesterday to release people from my social media account who were bringing me down. I have full appreciation for all who have differing viewpoints than my own, my husband being one of them. Where I energetically struggle are the hate and attacks online, not to mention the physical attacks around our country alone. I’m not even going there today. But, when I can feel the hatred and attachment to an ideal in someone’s repeated posts with that intention, I ask myself, how is this serving me? When it’s serving me in a negative way, even without engaging, then why should I stay “attached” to that person via social media much less in life? Practicing aparigraha happened for me yesterday as I let people go. In doing so, I also practiced ahimsa (non-harming), by reducing the harm that was filtering through my energetic core. Also my not engaging, I didn’t perpetrate the hurt and harm. Acting always with love and not hate is foreign to many, but part of the yoga philosophy. I released them so I could also release my natural reaction to judge.

Yoga Teachers and Business Owners. I’m also seeing significant attachment as I’m interviewing yoga teachers and yoga business owners. First let me say, I’m not perfect and I’m continually working through my own attachment challenges. With that said, in following the yoga teachings, I’m also attached to the idea that our world is abundant and there is enough for everyone. We each have extraordinary gifts and are meant to serve people in the way that honors those gifts and each other. What has shocked me, but also reminded me that we are all human, are how many yoga teachers resisted the invitation to speak with me. Being a researcher and philosopher, I love to gather data, process my thoughts and the information, and share out the findings. That is my intention with these interviews.

But some odd behaviors arose as I reached out to my peers. I feel like the yoga community is afraid to let anyone else into their bubble. Like “this is my space, these are my students, and this is my way…” This pandemic gave us an incredible gift…the gift of awareness and joy. Unfortunately, it’s not a common perspective and the fear that I’m witnessing as the pandemic is shaking up the yoga industry has me even more passionate about helping out my peers. Unfortunately, it’s not perceived in that way. And since perception is reality, I had to ask myself the following:

  1. What are they (and I) resisting?
  2. Who are they (and am I)?
  3. Why are they (and I) here?
  4. What is their (and my) purpose?
  5. Are they (and I) sitting in abundance or fear?
  6. How would they (and I) rate their own aparigraha?
  7. What are their (and my) chakras showing them (me)?
  8. How do they (and I) plan to move forward?