I started teaching yoga in 2004 with very little training, but had started practicing in 1999, somewhat inconsistently. Since then, I’ve continued to learn and teach and nearly 12 years later, I can say that I finally feel like I have the experience of a teacher who really knows what they are doing. When I started teaching, I was all over the place, but attending many workshops, trainings and visits to Mysore, India later, I have focus and teach one thing only, Ashtanga Yoga. It’s what I study, it’s what I practice, it’s what I preach and how I live my life.
When I started teaching yoga classes the minimum was $40 per class, with little or no experience because there were so few teachers out there. Teaching 10-12 classes per week wasn’t such a bad gig and having 1-2 privates at $60-$80 extra made it a living wage, so to speak. At the time it helped supplement my income as a high school teacher. Now, many years later, the pay has dwindled to $20-$30 per class and even though I am more experienced, I make less teaching yoga than I did 11 years ago. Luckily, with experience comes opportunities, where I have been invited to teach workshops abroad and travel for free as well as come home with extra cash. And if you know me, I love to travel. Teaching workshops can be lucrative and rewarding in places where they don’t have an Ashtanga teacher, but I prefer to stay focused on my students here in Orlando, those who come to my classes regularly. I am working on building a community of yogis where we lift each other up, motivate each other and learn from each other. I see it everyday as my more advanced students encourage the new ones, and the older students give advice to the younger ones. It’s something I admire in all of the people who come to my class. It feels good to belong to something more powerful than yourself, something that’s meant to heal and create peace in our lives.
However, the role of teacher is forever evolving and I am starting to learn that I need to keep up with the times. Driving around from place to place teaching an hour here and 90 minutes there is not how I want to live my life. Luckily, I haven’t had to do that for a few years now. I teach at one place Inspirit Yoga Studio in South Orlando, six days per week. I encourage my students to come to class 3-6 days per week to see the maximum benefits that yoga can have on the body mind and spirit. I know, from experience, that this is the best way to create change in your physical and mental health. You know that feeling you get after a great yoga class? Yeah, well, practice 6 days per week and start feeling that 24/7.
There are now so many outlets for teachers to influence students, and although demonstrating over the world wide web might not be the most personal way for students to learn, it can create a bridge for those who have too much fear to go to a yoga class or don’t have the means. Internet learning is creating a way for us to share our passions, crafts, education and ideas in ways that we never thought possible. We can access all types of information that we didn’t have even 20 years ago and much of it is free, or cheap. With all the different types of social media outlets we have today we can choose good or bad. We can choose to focus on the happy uplifting things or the negative images. We can choose to help or just stand by. We can get sucked in or we can choose to act.
I am beginning to understand the draw of famous yogis like Kino MacGregor and Seane Corn. They put themselves out there for the whole world to see. They open the door of their lives for people to join in their lifestyle. They live their lives without being afraid of what people may say, and they accept the good and the bad of how others may judge them, and believe me, the comments I’ve seen on social media are not always good.
There is room for all of us on the social media spectrum. I used to not think so. But I am beginning to realize that if you do what you love with passion and sincerity, there is success waiting for you on the other side. All you have to do is go out and find it.