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Competition Problems

I'm a yoga teacher in Paris, France, where my husband and I have a small yoga studio. Previously I worked in the fashion business for 13 years. The nastiness I've seen in the world of yoga has astonished me more than anything I experienced in fashion.

It makes me sad and frustrated to have experiences like this. Do you have any advice about dealing with the immense competition between yoga teachers?

Read David Swenson's reply:

Dear Linda,

Just because we practice yoga does not mean that we are yogis. I think that a mistake we all make is to think that the world of yoga will be any different than the rest of the world. In fact, in some ways I believe that yoga tends to amplify who we are. The practice of yoga, or any discipline of self-exploration, is something like tilling the soil to prepare a garden. The practice brings fertility into our being, but our maturity as a practitioner is determined by what we plant in our garden. If we choose to plant an ego, we can grow an even bigger one than the average person.

When we practice yoga, it doesn't mean that we are suddenly free from the stresses and challenges of daily life. We cannot control the obstacles and difficulties that life may present us in a day. Our only control is how we react to it, and that is where we put our yoga to the test.

None of us are perfect; we all have made mistakes and will continue to do so. It is always easy for us to see the flaws in someone else, and difficult to observe them objectively in ourselves. But in life, as in yoga, we cannot control the actions of others. We must be patient, with both our personal growth and that of others. So I agree that there are many flaws in the world of yoga. There will always be competition between students, teachers, studios and styles of yoga. The whole concept of yoga competitions began in India long ago.

Rather than be surprised at the presence of competitiveness in yoga today, realize that it is more of an exception when competitiveness is not present. Competition is an inherent part of human nature. The difference between the world of yoga and the fashion world is that in fashion, competition is placed right out in the open. In yoga, people pretend it is not there. So the question is not whether we will be confronted with competitiveness or other imperfections of human nature, but how we react to it. We can choose to participate in it or tread our own path and create an example of openmindedness and compassion in which we attempt to transcend the competitive environment around us. It is our choices in life that define us. There is a definition of a yoga that I like: "A yogi is one who leaves a place a little nicer than when they arrived."

Let us all strive to become yogis.

David Swenson made his first trip to Mysore in 1977, learning the full Ashtanga system as originally taught by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. He is one of the world's foremost instructors of Ashtanga Yoga and has produced numerous videos and DVDs. He is the author of the book Ashtanga Yoga: The Practice Manual.

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Reader Comments


Some days I'm not a yogini at all, I'm just a fat geriatric gymnast ;)

Doris Manek

I teach a kids yoga class for 6 to 10 year olds. We love to play games, but hate to lose. Does any have any ideas on how to make losers winners too?

iyan Yaspriyana-Bali

Competition in yoga teaching world now becomes bigger and bigger, it is normal. Many yoga practitioners turn into yoga teacher because of the look of yoga teacher’s life style. Many people see and think yoga teacher life style is so serene, peaceful, bless, bliss and such a holy task in humanity. Life looks so easy and enjoyable. In my case this is true, I enjoy, and I love to teach. I love to share the great experience, great energy and the wisdom I experienced to as many people as I possibly could.
But I still standing on this realistic today world, I need money to attended teacher training, I need money to live my lifestyle and to enjoy my life. Luckily on one side with my partner we do business, and we put the philosophy “doing business in spiritual pattern” in our business. This is very important for us, instead of ‘selling spirituality for business’ advantage.
As a yoga teacher, I have my own style to teach. I only do retreat; this is more than just teaching yoga poses and the pranayama. A yoga retreat for the inner self growth, to bring yoga into daily life and emphasizing ‘yoga for life’ instead ‘life for yoga’.
Those are the reason I never feel in competing with other yoga teachers or other yoga retreat. I’m learning and reshaping my program for my student, the main thing is my student. When they transform into great personal being, this is the ultimate reward I’m grateful for.
Linda and others let the outside be whatever to be right now, the most important for us is we found our self. Be de touch with unsupportive energy. Namaste

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