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Yoga teachers face a new reality

A global pandemic has issued a gigantic wake-up call. While some industries and businesses may not have taken a big hit – merely shifting from in-office to remote work – most of us have experienced extraordinary changes within our personal and professional lives. Along with this wake-up call – and the changes – has come […]

A global pandemic has issued a gigantic wake-up call.

While some industries and businesses may not have taken a big hit – merely shifting from in-office to remote work – most of us have experienced extraordinary changes within our personal and professional lives. Along with this wake-up call – and the changes – has come fear, anxiety, panic, and stress: all common reasons why people practice yoga.

Now, more than ever, the world needs more yoga. And indeed, it is the yoga industry itself that has undergone one of the biggest shifts. As people are forced to stay home and begin adjusting to a new reality, consumers are focusing their attention on products and services that promote self-care and wellness during these stressful times. According to Research and Markets, yoga equipment sales have seen a growth of 154%. The changes have absolutely rocked the fitness industry, which is completely reinventing itself (cnn.com) as nearly everything is shifting to onlinr.

And as gyms and fitness studios around the world continue to close, yoga and fitness instructors are also adjusting to a new reality. Teachers are getting more creative and amping up their side hustles. Studios are shifting to fully-online classes. We are seeing an explosion of online meditations, affirmations, and business wellness courses all over our social media feeds. All the practices that were once only available in person are now available to us to navigate the storms: health scares, the fear of losing our jobs, and the ever-pervading uncertainty around the future in general. While I’m certainly thrilled that I get to take these new online classes from all of my favorite instructors, I must admit it seems a little strange how we are connecting with our yoga and fitness communities almost exclusively through our little screens.

I’ve been a location-independent entrepreneur for the past six years, and I’ll be the first to admit that technology was never my forte. It’s not that I can’t figure out how to throw up some live classes relatively easily (after a few hours of frustration), but it’s that I don’t want to. I like connecting with humans in person. I like touch. As a yoga teacher, I do my best work in in-person interactions, where I can get energetic feedback from my students (and I’m sure I’m not the only teacher that shares these sentiments).

The good news is that we know how to adapt. Our whole worlds are built on the principles of adaptation, flexibility and acceptance of whatever our circumstances happen to be at any given time. We know what the world needs, and we know that we have the tools to serve those in need during this critical time.

But what about us nomadic yogis who have spent most if not all of our working lives seeking work and life experiences abroad? What about those teachers who thrive on travel, gaining knowledge and wisdom through interacting with different cultures, teaching in different locations, and planting themselves down in whatever location is calling to them at the time?

Suddenly, borders are closed. We can’t go anywhere anymore. We can’t practice together anymore. Teaching jobs on sites like Yogatrade and Facebook groups have essentially vanished. On one hand, all this newfound time and stillness affords us a unique opportunity to plug in, learn from others located across the globe, and develop our own online platforms. On the other hand, it can feel like we’re almost being forced to abandon our yoga communities – along with the joy that comes with moving and breathing together in the same space –  and spend way more time marketing ourselves on our screens. What about the teachers who don’t have an online following? What about those who merely hadn’t taken the time to build an online presence, because they were too busy enjoying their lives and living in the moment?

It’s a big challenge for some.

One thing remains, though. Regardless of this new chapter and the adjustments (big and little) that come with it, yoga teachers are probably among the most resilient during this crisis. Our yoga practice has never been an escape. It is a refuge and a sacred space in which to cultivate the tools and resources necessary to be in a harmonious relationship with all that arises, positive or negative: “the love and the light as well as the pandemics and fear and everything in between.” And while I’m seeing many of my teachers, mentors, and yogi colleagues no longer able to teach in their home studios or lead those retreats, trainings, and workshops they’ve planned, there’s a certain invigoration  – a rise to the challenge, so to speak – that’s emerging in the hearts and souls of these beings. 

Our purpose has never been more clear. We want to serve you, because the world needs it, now more than ever.

Compassion. Empathy. Resourcefulness. Adaptation. These are the traits we strive to cultivate, and teach, on a daily basis. On as well as off the mat. And whether or not we are in the physical space of a teacher and other students or alone in our living room, our practice is present. It is always with us, in us, and accessible to us, whenever we need it. 

How do we choose to view this universal disruption? As a nuisance, waiting to return to “normal?” Or as an opportunity? A chance to step into a new way of being, a new world, a new stage of evolution? 

Perspective is everything. Instead of thinking of that which we’ve lost, we can focus on what we do have. This pandemic gives us the much-needed breath of fresh air to pause, take a step back, and realign ourselves with what is truly important to us. To look beyond the frustrations and challenges of the present moment and put our years of practice into play. To understand what self-care means. To understand the strong bonds that underlie our communities, to get creative with how we stay connected, and to hold space for each other in entirely new ways. This is our chance to create and take part in an entire new paradigm. Isn’t it exciting?!

Although the future is undoubtedly unclear, this has the potential to open up multiple new doors in our lives, if we let it. 

When nothing is certain, anything is possible.

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