Why I'm Failing as a Yoga Teacher, and I Love It!

I recently offered a yoga workshop in my local community. I worked with the studio owner, came up with a outline, description, and photos. I promoted it via social media, and talked about it to my friends and students. On the morning of the event, the studio owner told me that no one had signed up, and that they wanted to reschedule and/or postpone the workshop. Initially, I was crushed.  Only once before had I planned a workshop where nobody attended. In the back of mind, I thought, “I knew this would happen again.”

Since graduating from yoga teacher training, I’ve been trying to build my brand, get my name out there, and establish myself as a successful yoga teacher. I envision teaching to sold out crowds, flying around the globe hosting retreats, workshops and conferences.  But after two and a half years of constant hustle, I find that I am struggling to fill up classes and get teaching gigs.  I’ve attended so many webinars that promise to build your yoga network and student base, but everything I seem to try doesn’t work.

I’m failing as a yoga teacher.

Self-doubt and fear have paralyzed me to move forward, and the thought of giving it all up has crossed my mind more than I care to count.

So, why do I love this? What has this all taught me? 

Yoga is all about the bringing together of opposites. And in that togetherness, you learn to remain detached, and neutrally aware no matter what life throws at you.  I do a walking meditation where I silently repeat the following to myself, “I am grateful for being alive, and all this life has to offer.”  But I’ve noticed, that what I really mean is that I’m grateful for all the positive in my life, not ALL that this life has to offer.

According to Yogic philosophy, the root cause of suffering in humans is known as Kleshas or afflictions:

Avidya - Ignorance/Forgetfulness

Asmita - Egoism

Raga and Dvesha - Attraction and Aversion

Abhinevesha - Clinging to Life

This sense of failure has allowed me to pause and reflect. Why do I want to teach yoga, and what constitutes success? When I was going through teacher training, I wrote that yoga gives me a sense of freedom, a lightness where my mind is quiet, and I’m flowing with steadiness, ease, and grace. Yoga leaves me feeling calm, blissful, and comfortable in my own skin.  If I could teach this to just one person, I would be so grateful.

To me, success is not determined by the number of students that attend your classes, or the number of workshops you sell out. Success is not being featured on the cover of Yoga Journal. (Although, I wouldn’t decline if I was asked to be on the cover!)

Success is found in the connections you make. 

A smile to a stranger, lending a helping hand, and staying neutral in times of turbulence. Yoga has taught me to look at the bigger picture. What does it all mean? In moments of stress and forcing to make something happen, I pause, reflect and not take myself too seriously. Some of the best classes I’ve taught have been to only one or two students. I was in the present moment, in my heart, flowing with the energy and movement. I was able to stay out of my head, silence my inner critic, and be grateful. Because let’s face it, life is but a series of moments. Why not try to enjoy each and every moment we can? Knowing that nothing is forever, and cherishing the beauty there is in life.