by Cara Butler
As both a yoga student and teacher, I have practiced and studied with the intention that I am not seeking the ‘fruits’ of my practice. Being a very competitive girl by nature with a strong Pitta constitution this has definately been a challenge at times …. however I do strongly believe the value really is in the journey, not in the destination. I can say more authentically now as I move into my 40s that I practice and also teach yoga, not for any rewards it might offer but as a natural evolution of my self practice and study.
When I was invited to invest in and take ownership of the studio that my teacher had founded and that I had worked in, it became the next organic step and evolution in my yoga career. On the journey of ownership I was blessed that the studio came with an established and supportive community, an incredible person ( fellow yoga lover & teacher) that joined me on the adventure as a business partner and it also came with connection to many wonderful teachers and yogic wisdom all around the globe.
But ……. and isn’t there always a but….there were many challenges too.
I felt there was a tension between ‘yoga as a practice’ and ‘yoga as a business’ and I spent many a long day and night trying to understand how to navigate and appease this tension.
What I have always been very clear about however, is that the investment in the education and development of a quality yoga teacher deserves recognition with fair and equitable remuneration (pay). Yoga as a profession needs organisations and leaders that empower teachers to be paid what they rightfully deserve.
The tensions around running the yoga studio as a business related more to struggles around the use of social media and self promotion. The online world requires careful attention and study to really understand the potential that it holds as a promotional and sales tool. Sadly I have had conversations with highly trained, deeply knowledgeable, experienced teachers who historically have travelled the globe teaching their yogic wisdom who were beginning to feel pressured and somewhat pushed out of opportunities while observing almost brand new teacher trainees selling out workshops alongside them simply because their “Instagram’ and ‘Social Media’ games were so savvy.
I DO believe that both are possible. You can be a yoga teacher of great substance AND a social media genius but sometimes we only have so much energy to go around, and for some the need to master the online marketing world is just not on top of their priority list. And that’s OK. But I do feel as a community that we have a responsibility to hold those teachers and studios in our awareness and give them the recognition they deserve when and in the ways we can.
Now, maybe more than ever before in our lifetime, the teachings of yoga are very much needed.
We are experiencing a global crisis with far reaching consequences and the teachings of yoga offer us guidance in how we can navigate all this and find our way to the path of least harm. At the same time, it is also potentially harder than ever for a yoga studio to survive as a business and continue to offer a platform for the practices that serve our communities so well.
So what can we do?
There is a saying “The best tool is the one you already know how to use”. SO if teaching yoga is your best tool then keep teaching, if social media savvy is your best tool than use your knowledge and share your wisdom when you can, and if being a diligent student is your best tool then keep showing up for your teacher and studio, whether in live classes or online.
There is also another way to honour the teachers and studios in Aotearoa that have been working so hard, and that is by nominating them in the annual “New Zealand Exercise Industry Awards”. These awards are not about who does the best handstand, or who has the most savvy Instagram account or who sells the coolest yoga pants…. This IS an opportunity to name, honour and show support for your beloved teacher or local Yoga Studio. Because if they were anything like I was they won’t be shouting their own achievements very loudly but I can bet they would be incredibly touched to hear that their students and colleagues might just have done that for them.
This kind of acknowledgement could be just what your local yoga studio needs to believe they can keep going, or the reassurance to a beloved teacher that even if they don’t know how to work facebook their classes are being recognised and valued deeply by their students.
My yoga practice gives me the tools to frame thoughts and experiences in different ways. Where once I may have thought a ‘Yoga Award’ such as this was competitive in nature, as a former studio ‘business owner’, I now view it as simply a way to show support and recognition to those that work so hard to keep the doors open to those studios and classes that we love so much.
And if you’re a teacher yourself maybe you work alongside others that inspire you or whom you observe doing great work in their own quiet way? Awhi Mai, Awhi Atu – Embrace one another. Embrace your colleague and offer them your love and acknowledgement in this way.
The official category for the awards is defined as follows….
Yoga Teacher of the Year: This category acknowledges Yoga Teachers within exercise facilities, studios and independent settings who integrate both body and mind practices into their sessions, offering students a holistic experience of wellness.
Should you wish to honour a teacher or colleague in this way simply follow these 3 easy steps….
– Click on this link www.exerciseindustryawards.co.nz
– Scroll down and click button ‘Nominate an exercise professional, facility or organisation here’
– Fill in details & submit nomination
Nominations close July 2022
Sports injury and the yellow pages (yes that long ago) led me to my first teacher and a regular yoga practice well over a decade ago. Since then my practice has evolved from enquiring student, to inspired teacher, to studio owner and to where I now find myself as part of the YogaNZ team (Communications & Events Manager) and director of Pre & Postnatal Yoga at Grassroots Yoga in Christchurch. Having practiced yoga through my own two pregnancies and completing a 100hr Pre & Postnatal Training with Bliss Baby Yoga, I have been honoured to create and run the Women’s Health Programme at Grassroots Yoga for the last 5 years, guiding women on their journey of pregnancy, labour, birth and beyond. I have also trained in and adore teaching ‘Restorative Yoga’ which I also regularly teach at Grassroots Yoga & Health. Currently registered with Yoga New Zealand as a Level 2 Teacher and with Yoga Alliance as 200hr ERYT, 100hr RPYT, YACEP.