Yogi Assignment: Karma
No matter how many times I get burned I almost always think that people are going to do the right thing. It’s like I have a blind spot for our all too human selfishness. I see the best in people, even when they don’t see the best in themselves. I see their potential, even if that potential may be years in the making. As a teacher, this allows me to believe in my students with a heartfelt enthusiasm that can be infectious. But as a business owner, it can get me into trouble sometimes. While assuming that we are all gathered for the greater good, I’ve allowed myself to be taken advantage of, manipulated, bullied, lied to, used for personal gain, and tossed aside when I was no longer useful. It’s sad but true. The business of yoga is not yoga. It’s business. But maybe it should actually be more yoga? Maybe as yogis we have to stand for something more than pretty pictures and lip service to the scared ideals of this practice. Maybe we need to get real about this world of yoga and take action to bring the yoga back into the business of yoga?
This week’s Yogi Assignment is Karma, which is laterally translated into Action. I want you take action. If you see uniformity in the yoga world and you want diversity, speak up for it. If you notice that big companies are monopolizing the message of yoga, vote with your dollars and boycott their products. If you want to support small companies run by yogis for yogis, then do the research and find them! Hold every yoga teacher and yoga influencer accountable for what products and companies they endorse. Hold every company accountable for their actions. Stand your ground. Vote with your dollars and your attention.
Be discerning. Look for the hidden signs. Some social media accounts named for “yogainspiration” or “yogagoals” or “yogachannel” are actually subliminal marketing run by large corporations. They don’t tell you it’s a company page, but if you notice that all the yogis are wearing the same brand, you can bet that it’s a corporate account. Ask for transparency and accountability.
Right now, there’s a big push in the corporate world to buy up yoga teaches on social media. While I love social media, I think we as teachers need to very careful about selling our voices for someone else’s product or company. As students of yoga we must be savvy consumers and do the research to figure out what types of companies we want to support.
Without us, the teachers and students of yoga, the industry and business of yoga is nothing. We have the power to create the world we want, but we need to take action. Write emails, post comments, let your voice be heard.
Stand your ground. Resist. The future of yoga is in your hands. Every student of yoga bears the responsibility of holding the torch of this sacred practice with integrity. If you’ve experienced peace, transformation or healing through yoga, it’s because the purity of the practice touched you, because a teacher invested in you, and because you put in the work of practice.
Yoga means something because the heart of this practice is the essence of the human spirit itself—limitless and eternal, filled with light and love. Yoga means so much to so many people because of its purity. Yoga has spread across the world because people are in search of something authentic and true, something real and unfiltered. So when big companies make a ploy to steal the heart of yoga right from under your mat, you have to brace yourself for what may be the fight of your life. Yoga has to stand for something more than slimming, bum-lifting, no-more-muffin-top leggings. Not that you shouldn’t buy and wear and enjoy the clothes you love. I certainly do, but that yoga is so much more than just the clothes and the perfect image around the clothes.
I’m a real person, not a goddess, I have feelings, along with good days and bad. My size and shape have been talked about in positive and negative terms, my cellulite (yes I have it) highlighted and my stomach rolls questioned (why don’t you have a six pack?). Say what you want about my body or my appearance, this practice is actually about the inner experience. It’s about the slow, subtle shift that opens your heart, the awakening that opens your eyes to the truth and the strengthening that gives your soul the steel it needs to never give up.
Yoga needs you to give back. Align yourself with the world you want to live in. Every time to buy something you have a chance to vote. Stay engaged with people and teachers you love. Support companies that are run by yogis for yogis. I founded OmStars because the online yoga space started to be all about flash and sales and my message and voice were being manipulated to an end I never agreed to. I wanted something that embraced the reality of what it means to be a practitioner of yoga, to get on your mat and commit yourself to the humble devotion of practice. With the support of yoga students from all over the world, the dream has come true. If we stand together, if we fight the good fight, no one will ever conquer us, claim us, or own us. We’ll be free and that is the real goal of yoga—liberation.