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Teaching Yoga

Giving Away My Teaching

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When I filmed my first YouTube videos on location in my tiny Brooklyn apartment, I had to put my couch in the kitchen to make room for my mat. Three years later my small video endeavor has blossomed into more than 165 free videos and counting–everything from full-length classes, short meditations, and even parts of my teacher trainings and workshops on the road.

When I began posting these yoga videos to the public domain, some teachers and friends told me it was a terrible idea. “No one will come to your classes if they can get the same thing for free!” one said.

I appreciated their concern and worried for a second that they were right, but then I realized that holding back offering something would be bowing down before lack, and not abundance. I’d be the demon of doubt under Nataraj’s foot instead of the Cosmic Dancer I aspire to be.

Aparigraha, or non-possessiveness, is sometimes overlooked in our yoga practice. We know it means not to hoard possessions, but what about ideas, talents, and our truth? Whenever we hold back from expressing ourselves out of fear–of failure or judgment–we’ve fallen prey to one of the biggest causes of dukha, or suffering: straining to hold back something in you that needs to be released.

Good old Pat (the sage Patanjali) told us that “One who is not greedy is secure.” (Sutra II: 39). If you give away what you can–whether it’s your truth, your art, your material stuff, or your love–from a place of passion, you will gain freedom as life energy rushes to fill the space left from the offering.

It’s far more worth it to try and reach out your hand than to keep your fist closed, and not share your gifts freely with the world. If doubt is an obstacle in the way of offering who you really are to the world, then drag out your own figurative Nataraj and stomp on that little doubt demon by doing it anyway, and seeing where it goes. Regret, for the yogi practicing Aparigraha, is not an option.

I’m pleased as punch that I have done something that has turned more people on to yoga and that they choose to support my teaching. But the process began with my excitement over a new computer and camera, my own unique ideas about yoga, and a burning desire to share them with anyone who cared to take a look. Since I can’t create a DVD every day–I figured, let’s run these up the flagpole and see who salutes.

I remain totally fired up to film them, and I will keep giving until that fire goes out inside. (I envision that to be a very long time from now.) Part of the practice of non-greediness is to keep letting go and freeing yourself even when you don’t have to . . . but because you want to live immersed in the ever-moving stream of prana, and this energy reminds you that you still want to.

Keep the flame lit underneath your offerings, don’t be afraid to release your ideas into the community and you’ll replace resentment with joy.

This is true security.

Teachers: Let us know where we can see you in action! My videos are here.

Core Question: Has fear caused you to hang on too tightly to something? In what ways do you practice letting go?