If studios taught Yoga classically, they’d probably go out of business

aghori-sadhu-with-skull

In preparation for my next level of assessment, my mentoring teacher asked me to summarize the first Pada of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra and relate it to my own experience thus far in my practice. Each time I read it I get more insight into what it really takes to study Yoga. Not Asanas, but Yoga.

Patanjali pretty much says unless you were born under divine intervention, the practitioner has very little chance of actually stilling the mind. Only through supremely intensive practice without attachment to the outcome will one still the mind just enough to get a glimpse of one’s true nature. Only then the path of Yoga can begin.

Fast forward to 2015.

I saw on today’s Facebook page that yoga studios in Colorado are protesting a proposal to have the state regulate them. Many are up in arms about how it will put their studio out of business. There are also plenty of studios advertising “advanced” teacher trainings for just $2,000 USD to “further deepen” one’s practice. In short, all of Yoga we see around us is about making money or not going bankrupt. Very little in modern Yoga is about practicing and not being attached to the outcome.

I’m not decrying this. We live in a modern society and have bills to pay. I even work in a studio that has those bills to pay and will go out of business without my and my teacher’s efforts. However, my observation is that there is so much emphasis put on Yoga as a means of making a living in the West, that much of the true Yoga teaching has been distorted or lost.

Under what conditions would we be able to teach classical Yoga? In India, Sadhu-s (holy men) go without homes, leave their families, barely eat just to follow the classical teachings. Not to say that all of these men are legit, but the commitment to the system is there.

My gut feeling says that studios in Colorado and other states will be regulated, studios will go out of business, “advanced teacher trainings” will be the new Amway, and Yoga as it is being taught in the West with endless 200 hour certification programs will be one of those things people will have remembered about the 2010s that won’t necessarily be around in the next 20 years.

However, classical Yoga will never die as long as there are human beings crazy enough to try to still their mind to get a glimpse of their true selves.

On that note, have a great weekend!

Advertisements

17 thoughts on “If studios taught Yoga classically, they’d probably go out of business

  1. khalkinised

    The life of the true yogi is a very difficult life to maintain in the West, you are right.

    Classical yoga goes beyond stretching and poses. It is a lifestyle choice. This is something thought that not everyone can sign up to.

    And while classical yoga is surrounded in mysticism, I actually feel proud of the West, as an Indian, adopting Yoga practices even if it isn’t in the intended way.

    It would be a shame if it were to be dissolved as a result of legislation.

    🙂

    Like

    Reply
    1. Gioia

      AZ wants to regulateTT too and, as a yoga teacher 24 years in numerous states, I don’t want more state regs in an area. States are ltd in their own understanding. We always go back to the whom doing the regs, the intention, and yes it’s generally associated with money. I recall while teaching in CA the inquiry via Yoga Journal, re: regulations on teacher student relations (it was outcome of Rodney Yee) –who decides? My reply then and remains no more regs.We take responsibility for our choices and there are many in yoga styles, et al. One invests an enormous amount of $$ time and yes commitment to follow the path of TT in yoga. If we adhere to a yoga path is it not the student/teacher’s knowing that we honor without attachment/judgment? Concur if dissolved as a result of legislation, a shame!

      Like

      Reply
      1. yogibattle Post author

        Thanks Gioia! As a seasoned teacher I’m sure you are aware of the radical changes in the yoga community in the past 24 years. It would be a shame if state legislatures regulated Yoga. That is why as a community, we need to do a better job regulating ourselves. Please let Yoga Alliance know that the 200 hour “registration” model is flooding the market with ill equiped teachers and studios who are in it just for a quick buck. Everybody is making money off of yoga now. This is why it is a desirable target for state governments wanting a piece of the pie.

        Like

  2. Dorris Scott

    I am curious to know how Iyengar studios will or are reacting to the calls of increasing regulation. I haven’t heard much from my studio(which operates in a tri-state area) about any fears of this…yet. I do know that my studio did get affected by the DC “Yoga Tax” and they(along with with the other studios in DC) fought that until the end.

    Like

    Reply
    1. yogibattle Post author

      Great question Dorris. Iyengar studios are in the same boat as any other Yoga studio in terms of regulation and taxes. I read in John Shumacher’s winter letter that he closed a studio in Woodley Park that had been open since ’91. He did not directly attribute it to the DC tax, but from a business standpoint that would surely be a factor.

      Every Iyengar studio is unique, so I can’t speak for all of them. I do see that many of the 200 hour RYT studios rely heavily on teacher trainings as a source of revenue. Let me know if I am incorrect. The studio up the road from me has constant teacher trainings at $3k a pop. Multiply that times 20-30 students and you have a cash cow. Most of the legislation I have seen targets these types of trainings.

      I don’t think that many Iyengar studios have that same teacher training-as-revenue model (I could also be wrong). The studio I work for gets the majority of its revenue from class attendance.

      The take home message is to support your local Iyengar community. Without support, more studios will close and more teaching will be lost.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  3. Dorris Scott

    You are indeed correct. When I did my teacher training, the teacher admitted in her “Business of Yoga” module that teacher trainings is a major source of revenue for her studio. 3k is the going rate in this area too, but I did not pay that much for my training. I will say that without my teacher training, I would have never been introduced to Iyengar yoga. One of the teaching staff was one of John Schumacher’s students for a long time and encouraged me to take classes from him.

    I know John does not have this teacher training-as-revenue model. I might be moving to Urbana-Champaign for school and I am considering becoming an certified Iyengar teacher sometime in the future. I checked out the website of Dr. Lois’ studio and she has a list of requirements for one to have her as a mentor as opposed to offering an actual teacher training program.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Heather Haxo phillips

      Lois is a wonderful reason to move to champagne-Urbana. She does not conduct teacher trainings – she trains apprentices. You learn to teach by practicing with her and doing your apprenticeship side by side. She hosts “gathers” which are 3 day intensives for her out of town students to come and refine their knowledge and skills – but it is inexpensive and non-commercial. It’s pretty amazing and unique in the world of yoga – a throwback to the old days.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  4. Scott@SkepticMeditations

    In the U.S. hatha (postural) yoga teachers do not currently have a certification by a national or international federation of instructors. Correct? Whereas in the U.K. there is a national federation that governs yoga standards and accreditation. The Brits regulate postural yoga as a “sport”. In the U.S. seems that individual teachers or schools may have their own teacher training certifications that are affiliated with a respective mothership, such as Iyengar’s BKSITYA. The U.S. market may benefit from a national accreditation board for yoga instructors. Just a thought.

    “Classical yoga” is a misnomer in the West.
    Unless we define what “classical yoga” means, its just fuzzy buzzwords: code for the ancients had an “edge” on knowledge over us moderns.
    Here’s a working definition of “classical yoga”: The ancient Hindus developed external rituals (sacrifices to the gods) that were based on Vedas (myths and hymns about the gods). The Rig Veda, earliest mention of yoga, yoga was not a developed system as we know it today but was an external sacrifice to the gods. By the medieval era (500 AD and later) the external rituals (sacrifices to the gods) started to become internalized, developed into yogic systems and concepts including the subtle body (kundalini, nadis, chakras) with yogic practices to transform breath, seed, and mind to immortality–to become a Siddha (perfected, realized one) or Shiva (Lord of Yogis).

    Good variety of posts on your blog. Thanks

    Like

    Reply
  5. Victor Lomeli

    👏🏾 I agree. I taught at a studio where the owner tried to get me to teach in some hyper crossfit type style because he said students wanted “faster” “harder” “louder” “computer generated scapes” and techno music. Mind you most of these students Postures needed a lot of alignment and the breathing, the breathing went out the door completely, when I discussed this with the owner he said to me “people don’t come here to do Yoga, people come here to work out. ” 😳 I had no idea, I was suppose to be teaching boot-camp not yoga. And the pressure to sell “teacher training courses ” and “yoga esstial” to students who would benefit more from Private instruction than a teacher training is mind blowing, and that these people actually pay 3K for very little instruction. This studio has no water fountains because money can made selling $3.00 Namaste water bottle shipped in from Las Vegas because that’s what yogis is West Hollywood do. 😳 Scary time for yoga.

    Like

    Reply
    1. yogibattle Post author

      Thanks for your comments Victor. I recently saw an interview with Maty Ezraty who had a strange wish: that Yoga would “break” into two pieces. One piece would be the fitness yoga , and the other would be the 8 limbed model which includes Asana, but not with a gym rat mentality. Stay tuned!

      Like

      Reply
  6. Team Yoga (@realteamyoga)

    The question isn’t so much whether Yoga will grow, relative to its surrounding context. Yoga will outlast us all and by its very nature ebbs and flows. It is more a question of who will hold it during its growth and how will that holding be managed.

    Like

    Reply
  7. n2h

    There simply wouldn’t be for-profit “studios” at all if classical Yoga was taught. Modern Postural Yoga (of any type) has a very thin connection to Patanjala Yoga.

    Like

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s