In my last post, I wrote about how industry pressures like marketing and branding led me to a rather abrupt departure from teaching yoga classes full time. The response to that article has been overwhelming. It reached more minds and sparked more conversation than would have been possible in 100 yoga classes.
- Read the original post here.
- And check out a follow-up video interview and article with Dr. Ariele Foster (@SacredSourceYoga), which provides some guidance to teachers who might be enduring “yoga teacher burnout.” That link is here.
But that confession — that I am not the person who I was selling — left something to be desired. While many readers remarked on how great it must feel to "shed a story that was not true," many others far wiser than me challenged my assertion that simply quitting was the best, most ethical, or even most practical way forward.
Both camps are right in their own way. It felt great to quit, and I admit, it felt even better to share that story publicly. Perhaps there is something honorable in abandoning your ambitions once you realize they are no longer serving you. On the other hand, quitting teaching altogether might be throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Worse, I learned my story might discourage other talented teachers to stray from their paths, too, and as a result, to not share their wisdom with the world. Several teachers have already reached out to me and said something like “I feel the same way, do you think I should quit, too?” No! I do not.
But I am not here to provide advice, I am here to share a story. And that story (as with every story) is incomplete because I did not really quit teaching. I just changed my medium and my approach.
For me, the written word has proved a better tool to teach yoga than traditional classes. It can reach a wider audience. It comes with no risk of injury, at no cost to the consumer, and at no expense to my integrity. So I’m going to keep blogging, keep engaging in conversations and keep sharing what I learn. And when I am not writing, I’ll be going full throttle with The Regeneration Magazine, which is working to change the way we think about and relate to the environment. How is that yoga? Yoga means to connect — this project is designed to draw the lines between the environment, people, and what people do (their businesses). In establishing this connection, The Regeneration Magazine aims to build a more interconnected future, where business can spearhead change and people can work together to regenerate the planet, rather than soil it.
So instead of Flow With Davis, the brand is now flowing with the regeneration (yeah the tagline needs some work, I know):
So that’s my yoga for the time being. If you’re wondering how I pay the bills, well, ironically I co-created a marketing agency to keep the lights on as I pursue my dreams (details forthcoming). Yes, privilege has helped me a great deal, too.
Of course, not everyone is a writer, and not everyone can afford to simply quit their jobs. So here are a few musings from some veteran yogis on the subject of how to keep going while being true to yourself. These thoughts are not just for yoga teachers, but for anyone struggling to do what they do while staying true to their heart:
"One (you, me, others) doesn't have to be phony, even when posting on social media. Seems it's possible to live the maxim, 'to thine own self be true,' even while ‘hustling' in a competitive yoga business world to have a sustainable livelihood."
— Mark Stephens, my trainer, a Yoga Therapist, and author of the international bestsellers Teaching Yoga, Yoga Sequencing, and Yoga Adjustments.
"It is possible to have a brand, that is entirely you and or your personality. What is valuable is your perspective. Surround yourself with supportive people and share your experience."
— Rose Kress, yoga teacher, yoga therapist
"Just be yourself the rest will follow. If the practice doesn’t speak to you don’t teach it. I’ve been teaching a long time. Long before Instagram and Facebook, and I don’t feel the need to be anyone but me... I don’t think you have to be enlightened or feel the need to alter yourself to teach yoga. I’m not a guru. I just teach yoga. Pretty well I hope."
— Meredith McFadden, yoga teacher and studio owner from Wilmington, Del.
"Stay Inspired. The best way to stay inspired is to keep studying yoga. Although you might — as Davis did — start to change your teaching after learning more. Align your teaching with studios, gyms, etc that allow your teaching to evolve."
— Dr. Ariele Foster, YogaAnatomyAcademy.com founder, creator of "Fascia Release for Yoga" course with Yoga Journal.
Cheers, blessings, and namaste.
Photo by Starhawk