Yoga and Money
On Abundance and Lack as a Yoga Teacher
I earn my living teaching Yoga. It's taken some years of working up a point when the practice of teaching could sustain me – modestly. I taught many classes with only one or two students, even stood in front of empty rooms from time to time and had to make it a practice of its own not to lose faith. To trust. To keep trying. Not to take it personally. Now, I am on the cusp of opening a studio of my own (in collaboration with three other wonderful teachers) and the teaching work has stabilized enough to sustain me.
During the years that it's taken to achieve some stability in the work, the daily challenges can really be boiled down to one constantly repeating theme: the dance between trusting in the benevolence of the universe and the very human fear of not having enough. To be specific and crude: not enough money. The topic of finances is one that is often skirted in the Yoga business: spirituality and success make for uneasy bed-mates. I've seen this reflected in my own experience through feeling uncomfortable charging for my work to begin with, then apologizing for how much I do charge and rarely summoning the courage to dispute a wage or ask for a raise. All of this despite the fact that I don't doubt the value of what I do – I see it reflected in the faces of my students on a daily basis.
On another, subtler level, the themes of abundance versus lack also become complicated when we allow a sense of competition to arise on the free Yoga marketplace. It's unavoidable that those living from teaching Yoga will be confronted with this issue at some point – that complicated feelings like jealousy, suspicion, and envy will rear their heads. That we will feel convinced at times that in order to experience abundance, we have to hoard, to protect our interests, to fight with the competition. This is an inward spiraling of tightness, control, fear of lack.
And these are exactly the moments when it gets rich and interesting: are we just regurgitating empty words when we stand in front of our class and talk about yogic values like Aparigraha (one of the ethical tenets of ancient yogic philosophy that speaks of non-attachment, non-greed) or do we walk the talk? Can we find it in our hearts to wish abundance also for those, with whom we see ourselves in competition? Can we trust in the benevolence of a higher power, surrendering into the knowing that there is enough abundance for us all? That the source of goodness, or richness, or plentitude is an endless one – much like Love – the more we give, the more there is in the world – exponentially growing.
These questions are posed with the sole intention of urging each of us to examine our relationship to the source – our relationship to the belief that in order to experience abundance, others must experience lack – and to consider that this may be misguided thinking. Imagine if, instead of fixating on the possibility of lack, we chose to believe in abundance for all – and to work together to support each other in experiencing this prosperity in our lives.