A love letter to all professional yoga teachers

The Yoga Profession

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Dear yoga teacher,

If you teach yoga as a hobby, this letter is not for you, I’m just addressing all of you who decided to dedicate your life to yoga education, to those of you who teach more than 16 classes a week, who are trying to make a living from what you love the most, I'm writing to you, because I am you and I’m concerned.

Yesterday I taught a beautiful class to 70 yogis at a yoga conference in my town.
I applied to be a teacher at this event months ago and I was SO HONORED when I got their acceptance email.
The event was truly amazing: the energy, the crowd, the connection. More than one thousand practitioners came together for yoga. Lovely.

It never even occurred to me to ask the organization about teacher’s compensation until I got back home – happy but exhausted after pouring my heart into my class.

I saw a comment on Facebook that got me thinking:

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At first I laugh…
I thought “This is so yogi”… and I responded:

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I couldn’t help but wonder:
1,000 people paid $35 for their tickets.
More than 100 vendors paid over $600 for their booths.
Is it normal that teachers were paid $0 to do their jobs? Is it acceptable that we even had to pay for our parking?

I ended up paying $14 to teach this class…

I’m sharing this because this has to STOP.
If it wasn’t for all of us teaching (for free), they wouldn’t have an event.

Can’t you see it?
WE ARE MARGINALIZING OURSELVES. Undervaluing our time, our creativity, our energy, our bodies and even our brains!

Then I went deeper, why did I do it?
What was my intention behind teaching at this event?
After all, I have actively participated in every detail of this decision: I applied online and I patiently waited for an answer; then when I got my answer, I planned my class and even designed some posters for social media...

I have to admit, I did it for “the exposure”… that ridiculous idea that we need to work for free in order to be recognized.
I’m sorry, but this concept is so 2014…
Think about it…

you can be popular, but that does’t mean that you will be profitable… and as far as I'm concerned, as yoga teachers we still have to keep paying bills and rent...

I’m not revealing the name of the event because that really doesn’t matter. They are a legit organization. They donated part of the proceeds to a national charity and to be honest, I think they are not the problem…

The problem is us, passionate yoga teachers who are dragging this limiting believe that yoga should be shared for free.

ENOUGH OF THIS!

If yoga is a multi-billion dollar industry then why is everyone benefiting from it but us – the teachers, the givers, the sharers. Why is it normal for someone to pay $80 for a pair of yoga pants or a mat but the same amount is considered crazy-expensive for the time and effort of the teacher?
Why teaching yoga is exhausting and rewarding, but cannot be lucrative?
Why do we do it only for love and not money? What's the taboo there?

In all these years teaching I have found very few yoga corporations that care about the welfare of the teacher and I’m honored to be a part of one them: all you can yoga™.
Where the teacher is the star, not only in terms of social media and how the external world sees it but also in terms of how they pay their teachers (85% for the teacher / 15% for the organization).

At the end of the day, if it wasn’t for the teachers, yoga as we know it wound’t exist.

With love and respect,
Vanessa Birnbaum Rosler

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