A dozen years ago, when I decided to become a Yoga Teacher – there was no such profession.
There were a few passionate Teachers who loved Yoga so much, they were willing to give up on a fixed salary and financial security for their families because they believed in yoga and wanted to teach it to as many people as possible. 12 years later, the situation is exactly the same – or is it?
In the last dozen years, everyone and their Aunt has tried a little yoga. The same people who advised me against taking up Yoga teaching as a career are now asking me what they can do to reduce their BP. Hollywood and Bollywood has officially accepted the Yoga mat as an Instagram-worthy accessory! And the UN has an Int’l Yoga Day, while the PM of India has just set the Guinness Record for leading the largest Yoga class, ever!
So, why has an esoteric spiritual science suddenly become so mainstream? In its 5,000 years, Yoga hasn’t seen so many people practicing. The reason is really that Yoga practices span the physical, mental and also the spiritual – in other words there’s something for everyone. So, will the fad ever end? NO. Because it’s not a fad. From Fitness to Health, from Stress relief to Community; yoga has so many applications that there will always be Yoga as long as there are Humans. Whether the Androids will need Yoga; or rather whether Yoga will evolve with the post-modern Human species is of course open to discussion. Or open to contemplation perhaps!
Which brings us to the reason for this article – what’s the life of a Yoga teacher like today? Well, for starters, people these days read what we write! And they flock to our Yoga classes. All over the world you can find Yoga classes and studios mushrooming. As thousands of yoga teachers undergo the ubiquitous TTC, everyone is setting up a yoga studio. Which means that it’s a very viable career choice there days. Of course you’ve got to do more than just ensuring you’re sufficiently flexible, know a few Sanskrit sutras and can manage an FB page…… and you’ve got yourself a business!
CHANGE: Back then we had to advertise the benefits of Yoga to get people to try a class – now the information about Yoga is so widespread that people are walking into yoga studios without any marketing whatsoever. The tide has turned.
A decade back, we routinely spent time sitting outside Editors’ offices trying to get information about Yoga workshops in the newspapers. And hoping to write a regular column for a publication on the benefits of Yoga. These days every Newspaper + News site + TV channel + Radio station +++ have a Wellness content editor. And all of them need yoga stories very often indeed.
CHANGE: Yoga teachers are now custodians of lifestyle advice and routinely contribute writings and interviews in public media. We’re called upon by journalists working on ‘A particular yoga story’! All this media work had meant that the Yoga TTC will soon need to include PR Skills as a module!
Yoga in the past was seen as a flexibility exercise that complimented your ‘gym’ time or aerobics class. You did yoga to relax but never to get fit! Yoga was therapy. It still is all this – but has rightly re-discovered its mojo as a complete (yes, complete) exercise and lifestyle modality. Yoga isn’t a complimentary discipline – it is the thing that you do! This has meant that yoga has evolved into an industry of sorts. The good thing about this is that more research is happening in Yoga and its overall benefits.
CHANGE: This has meant that it has opened up the thinking of the average Yoga teacher. Previously we relied on the ancient yoga texts alone – today EEG studies of monks in meditation; performance tests of sportsmen who practice Yoga and so many clinical tests in Yoga as mind-body therapy – has provided a whole new stream of research. Most of this is proving that what the Yogis said a thousand years ago is accurate. This science-backing has endeared more people to yoga and is providing the confidence to teachers, governments and even the UN to back Yoga!
Till recently, Yoga teachers were offbeat characters who couldn’t possibly fit into the mainstream. Their views on lifestyle (food!!) were too exotic. Nowadays, the exotic has become absolutely mainstream!
Back in the day, well-meaning people tried their best to give us advice on life. Fifteen years later, having tread their chosen paths – they’re the ones seeking advice on life, and not just about Wellness but about every aspect of Living, Relationships and even Career. And some of them even want to invest in my Yoga school! Now that’s a turnaround, ain’t it?
– MANISH POLE
Yoga Teacher, Director at Total Yoga, Blogger & Speaker on Yoga, Meditation & Wellness.
PS: Been trying unsuccessfully to get people to smile during meditation over 12,000 yoga classes taught!