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Read Annie Carpenter’s response:
Yoga has indeed become an industry. When I first started practicing, none of my teachers were paid—it was service, an honor, and privilege to teach yoga. It is easy to be disheartened with the success of yoga as it is dressed in the trappings of the “yogic lifestyle” and promises of youth and happiness.
That said, it is helpful to remember why we are here now: Yoga is popular! Enough people practice yoga so that we can make a living teaching, managing studios, writing about yoga, designing clothes and props, or doing any number of yoga-related tasks. We can be thankful for the marketing machine to bring more people to the practice, and it’s up to us to honor and uphold the traditions that we love.
For newer teachers, it is indeed necessary to have both the skills of the yogi and some marketing prowess as well. How do you get yourself out in the community? First, I think it’s helpful to be really clear about who you are as a yogi and a teacher of yoga. Are you great with kids? Interested in bringing yoga to people who are in treatment for cancer? Can you bring your passion to this community? Try giving a few free sessions and then setting up a series of classes for the population you feel drawn toward. One of my trainees who had been a dancer designed a yoga practice for ballet dancers to bring balance to their overextended bodies, and after offering it to them for free she was able to set up weekly classes in their studio. Is there a charity you are committed to? Donation classes are a great way to build community.
Marketing ourselves in a clear, specific way is joyous and honest when it’s fueled by a true and passionate expression of what we love. Whether it’s via social networks, ads in the local press, or free or charity classes, when we know ourselves and develop our passions it becomes clear and even fun to find creative ways to connect to our potential students.