yoga teachers are competitive assholes
The yoga teaching world has felt more competitive than slinging cocktails on a Saturday night.
I don't have a ton of friends that are yoga teachers. It's mostly cordial and sometimes there's a dial of fake or aloof in passing.
The ones I do have are really fucking awesome.
Most of the competitiveness is downright silly.
Some, though, is not.
And that's where the asshole part comes in.
It's a little swampy sometimes.
Remember in yesterday's email where I wrote, "don't forget to be 6."
Some adults can take that too literally and act 6 all the damn time.
And they add the drama of a 16 year old as their armor too.
Let me back up a bit...
I started an Instagram account in 2012, I was posting regular life photos and the occasional yoga pose photo. Sometimes, I'd write how to do a pose. Or what I was learning from yoga. I was really excited to share this practice because it was changing my life. In a short time, there were thousands of people "following" me on the app.
I found a few yoga teachers on Instagram, like Rachel, that were posting about yoga and life too.
The thing that I loved about Rachel (heck, still do and love her even more): she was honest, carefree, loved yoga, had strong opinions, and she was a yoga teacher that drank tequila (she got a lot of shit for posting a photo of Tequila a few years back. How dare she drink Tequila and call herself a yoga teacher?! Gasp!).
It was absurd. Probably the first time I ever took note on how judgmental and downright asshole-spirited yoga people could be.
Around that time, I took some heat from a teacher, whom I respected, that told me what I was sharing online was not yoga and that they'd hoped I wasn't trying to teach yoga with a photo on the internet.
Now, I can shake stupid shit off like that.
But I realized, "wow, yoga teachers are not all cracked up to be peace, love, and light."
Which came with some relief, in a way.
People like to make bad guys out of the "other" guy/gal. Because people don't deal with their own shit. And when you don't deal with your own shit, you end up shitting on other people, along with yourself.
Right now, there are people reading this email not because they love and support me but because they're here to be watchers (And I'm guessing, shit-talkers? I hope I'm wrong).
I've had teachers belittle me, shame me, or attempt to take me down. It still happens.
Within my first year of teaching, there was international attention surrounding my writing, teaching, and life stuff (thanks to social media). I got a paid writing gig with a company and filmed a huge yoga campaign with them. And right after that I was asked to be part of oneOeight and film dozens of yoga classes for an online subscription yoga platform.
Which was cry my eyes out exciting! It's still cry my eyes out exciting!
There's envy there from other teachers and cries as to how I could possibly get those things being a newbie.
Since then --
I've been told that I cared more about having an online presence than showing up for my local community (I understand, to a point, but this is also a part of my livelihood). Countless people say that my classes suck and how dare my little experience grant me to teach on an international yoga channel.
I've had people pretend to be my friend in a way that was more self-serving for them (which sucks and recently went through that scenario for the umpteenth time). There are teachers that weirdly keep tabs on my numbers from classes to social media following, why though?
They'll smile at my face and frown behind my back. Some claim that you're stealing their "students" or will tell them that what I teach is not "true yoga" to persuade people away.
Let's just say, lot's of clucking.
God forbid you ask another teacher for a song they played in their class (I made that "mistake" ONCE). If claws could talk! Some teachers hoard information from other teachers as to not give away their secrets or something?! Or they won't share their teaching influences, my guess is to look more important or something.
There's manipulation, bitterness and rivalry throughout.
I've also not been the most gracious at times. I've learned to distance myself. It's better to walk away. Do your thing and find your ride-or-die people.
And I'm not alone in this beat-down of this business. I've had it easy compared to others. And some who have tried to upper-cut me are often the ones dealing with their own pain or simply mimicking what they've experienced from another at times. Some have been demonized because they're really great being themselves or they're the most popular teacher on the schedule. There's lots of stories.
The situations that piss me off the most, is where someone will interfere with someone else's livelihood.
Messing with someone's business messes with their livelihood. Messing with someone's livelihood messes with their family.
I wish people would recognize this when they behave in nasty ways.
I also believe that we are animals.
Most of us have pain there. People act outside what is going on internally.
And we've been completely brainwashed that there's not enough to go around.
Here's the thing, competition is a good thing. It makes us better at our jobs.
One of my favorite teachers in Sacramento says something to the tune of:
"competition is a good thing, that we conspire with our neighbors to encourage each other's best."
That means: we encourage.
It does not mean: discourage.
I don't know what that looks like exactly.
I do know it's good to talk about this ugly shit, though. Instead of pretending it doesn't exist.
I have ideas:
Drop the thinking that there's not enough. Collaborate with others more. Trade information. Talk-shop in a way that helps us work through real-life and weird-shit (like how you handled that person leaving a pile of their peeled toenails on the studio room floor, BARF!). This teaching gig is not the easiest job. We are in confrontation with ourselves everyday and then we've got to show (not matter what our personal life struggle is) and confront people on their mats. It's not so much to ask that we make things less hard on each other and co-exist as people that love teaching yoga or non-yoga-yoga.
Put on your blinders and do what you do. Jimmy Lovine says it best in this video. Thanks, Ryan, you bastard (that "bastard" is all-love btw)!
If you're a new yoga teacher, hang in there. Find teachers that will encourage your best and you encourage theirs too.
If you're a person that takes yoga classes, please know that not every yoga teacher is an asshole.
And being competitive doesn't necessarily make you an asshole, either.
Remember, we are not all peace, love, and light every waking moment even if we present it so on the internet.
This yoga business is just like any other. It's a hustle.
Let's keep talking. It's good for both of us, promise.
PS - I was going to share other people's stories but decided it best not to go too deep down that path. For now, anyway.