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Being Successful and The Marketing of Yoga

I wanted to write a marketing article today for TrulyTwistedMarketing, something informative and catchy and full of ideas about how to grow your business but I got stuck. I got stuck because I ALSO wanted to write about yoga, kids yoga, a new yoga sequence, how important yoga is to me personally…

So while I was waffling between the two and bemoaning the fact that there aren’t enough hours in the day and I’m on deadline with a big web project and the kids have to be picked up from school and the dog did a dirty thing in the spare room downstairs that has to be cleaned up by someone (that someone would most likely be me), I came across a video. Well, it was actually an ad on Facebook that led to the video.

The video (landing page) was the tail end of an online ad that read click here for a FREE video on how to succeed as a yoga teacher from a yoga master.”

My interest was piqued. It looked like it was certified by the yoga alliance. I won’t lie, I really was curios. I clicked the link. I gave my email because I want to hear (I always want to hear) and learn what other people say and do to grow their businesses, whether they be small or large AND because I love yoga.

Being open to new ideas is one of the ways I get inspired and it gets my own creative process happening so I can go all mental and create new ideas, new ways to grow for my marketing clients and for myself. It’s a weird matrix-y, connection of thought, thing that goes on until voila, presto chango the magical idea works into my being-ness.

So, getting back to that video that inspired this article…

It was delivered as the “first” video to my inbox and I eagerly clicked the link to hear what this yoga guru master type person said about how to succeed.

To say that it wasn’t what I expected is an understatement. No tools. No tips. No concrete agenda of do x and you’ll end up with y and z. No “how to.” No “this is how I did it and the steps I took to be successful.”

There WAS a whole lot of information about the yoga sutras and how, if you want to be a famous yoga teacher, you are in it for the wrong reason AND if you want to make a lot of money, you are in it for the wrong reasons.

My reaction: Sigh…as the feeling of disappointment settled in. And then, there was more sighing.

Who, exactly, is into being a yoga teacher solely for fame and fortune? I mean, really, who? Just by the nature of yoga, what it is, how it works, anyone solely in it for the money and fame will at some point come crashing to a very real halt – please see exhibit A, Anusara’s very own creator, John Friend. And I’m betting he actually didn’t start out thinking, I’m going to be a rich and famous yoga teacher…betting his ego got the best of him along the way and somewhere along the journey, he forgot his roots. Or, maybe he was just bad to the bone. Who knows? I’ve never met him. Not judging.

But in my opinion and in my years of experience with marketing and helping small businesses grow, saying something like, ‘if you want to be successful you can’t expect fame and fortune,’ or ‘you have to lead with your heart and be in it for the love of being in it’ is only half the story and sort of a cop out. You gotta back it up with actionable concrete items that will lead a person to success in a chosen field that are pertinent to them. We are talking about how to be successful, here. Success isn’t the same for every person in business. What success means to me and what success means to you are very likely two very different entities.

Now, let me just back up a second tell you (if you don’t already know) that the yoga sutras are ancient texts. They are writings that each and every yoga teacher learns, memorizes and hopefully lives by.

The sutras are specific about growing in and navigating through life with compassion and love whilst being true to your own highest self. These are all good traits to carry into every aspect of your life and into business. When I watched that video, I just couldn’t get past the whole equating money and fame as being wrong or a part of being a successful yoga teacher.

Here’s why

1. It was misleading. The ad specifically used the words “how to succeed as a yoga teacher” implying an action plan. There wasn’t one.

2. I personally don’t know any person who started out on the track to teaching yoga thinking I’m going to make a whole lot of  money and be rich and famous. I certainly didn’t. I did it because I have strong personal affection for the many aspects of yoga. With every ounce of my being, I love it. I love to teach. I love to make people’s lives better in some fashion. I love seeing people grow and blossom into their own powerful selves. The cool thing is all these “loves” translate into what I do in marketing as well. I really do have an awesome life. 🙂 Feeling real grateful as I’m writing this.

3. (I know this is a long one but here we go anyways) Many yogis and even yoga masters seem caught up around this concept that money or expecting to be paid for the service you are offering is somehow an un-yogic thing aka bad. Being a successful yoga teacher means you CAN pay your bills, put gas in your car, feed your children healthy meals, take the dog to the vet, etc. It’s ok and super healthy to actually put a ROI (return on investment) on the classes you teach or the workshops you are offering. Why? Because this is your full-time job. It’s your livelihood. It’s YOUR business.

Even though you love teaching that class at the YMCA of 20+ people for $17 whole dollars (total), it may not be worth it in the long run if you are spending more in gas to get there, you are spending valuable time and resources on planning the class and none of those people are showing up at your other workshops and events. If this is the scenario, then you are actually losing money which translates into time drain, energy drain and finance drain and your business is not growing therefore you aren’t getting any return on your investment (ROI).

Yogis and anyone in a small business need to learn HOW TO USE MARKETING TOOLS (like calculating ROI). It is basic math and boils down to honoring your own self, valuing what you are providing and will help you set clear goals for yourself and your business.

Try this idea on for size. Let your heart guide you while simultaneously being aware that the financing (your pay) needs to be in place as well. It doesn’t have to be one or the other. You can have both classes filled to the brim with people AND be compensated for your time, energy and training.

4. The perception of fame for many yogis is similar to the ideas around money. Yoga is growing in popularity in the US. We are only going to hear about it more and more. It’s an active and dynamic physical practice with strong spiritual roots that make people better versions of themselves from the inside out – mentally, physical, spiritually. Simply put, it is super cool.

So, living in the west and in this modernized country where we have the capacity to grow a business from the ground up, yoga is blossoming. With that blossoming come TV networks, talent agencies, competitive sports companies who see it as a means to increase their own bottom line. If Nike asked me to teach a yoga class on Good Morning America wearing their yoga apparel, why would I say no? If it lines up with my personal path to well being and I have the opportunity to reach a gazillion more people and impact their lives in a positive way doing what I love, how is that wrong?  If a yoga teacher is steeped in the yoga sutras and this thing called yoga, how could they (or I) be anything other than humble and honored to do such a thing?

Let me say again, success and what success means is different for each and every person. And the framework for success can and should be couched in the sutras for yoga teachers, especially. But if I’m a yoga teacher and to me success means leading yoga retreats into far corners of the world and National Geographic wants to do an expose on these retreats and pay me a whole boatload of money to boot, I’m in!

  • Do you know how many people could be fed with a boatload of money?
  • Do you know how many scholarships could be set up with a boatload of money?
  • Do you know how many people National Geographic reaches whose lives might be changed by yoga?

I don’t. But I’m willing to find out. 🙂

Act with integrity. Outline what being successful means to you. If being famous is integral in your own personal version of success, go for it. Steep yourself in the yoga sutras (if you are making your full-time living teaching yoga). Let go of outdated notions that money and having money is bad. Find training on how to market your business.

Hint – the SBA (small business administration) offers a fount of marketing information as do many online resources like the Yogipreneur or Marie Forleo on MarieTV or I’m happy to help over at TrulyTwistedMarketing. If online isn’t your thing, go get D. LaPort’s Book, Fire Starter Sessions. It rocks.

I love this quote from Jennifer Pastiloff in one of her recent blog articles on being successful from Positively Positive.

What does success even mean?

I no longer wait tables. I am happy. I have fun. I am sitting on the sofa next to the man I love watching Modern Family. I get paid to do what I love.

I have only been teaching yoga and doing what I do for three years. Barely three years.

And here I am.

You are reading my blog.

Am I successful?

I am to me!

When I read those words, it gave me cold chills because I KNOW that feeling. I want you to experience it too.

Yours in gratitude and peace,
***Love to connect up with you on twitter, facebook, leave a comment below or email me.

One Response to Being Successful and The Marketing of Yoga

  1. Sonya thanks for the amazing post + the shout out! Much appreciated!