Image and yoga

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For years now my practice has mainly been solitary. I practice Bikram yoga at a studio once a week and as far as community is concerned that’s just the hand full of students who show up at my home studio twice a week. I vascillate over whether to engage in more sangha locally at a studio and also wonder if it’s best to continue my slow steady solo path.

There are advantages to either side of a yoga practice. Years ago I went to maybe 10 classes total before I just practiced daily at home the 20 or so poses I’d learned. Being alone meant I could hold the pose longer, hang out, breathe and really deepen my practice in a way that I couldn’t at a studio where the teacher was helping a whole class move through the poses and didn’t have time to focus on me alone.

In solitary yoga you don’t get any community. There is something to be said of sangha within the yoga community and being able to relate to our communal goals and work in our practice. At times this makes me aware of the real humanity of the practice and as a teacher it reminds me to try to meet students where they are at. All of my students are different, have different bodies and needs and as much as possible I try to steer them the direction that will give them the most bang for their buck so to speak.

Financially as a teacher it may be best to venture out, teach at a studio and work with a larger number of students. This also creates an interesting setup regarding the studio itself. In the US people expect a large, spacious studio with wooden floors. Everything is clean, tailored just so and comes with all the trappings we think of in such a space. I care nothing for image.

Part of the reason I’ve enjoyed working in my home studio is that it’s about the practice, not the space. There is no image to maintain. It has a carpeted floor, it’s a repurposed garage and has recycled mirrors. If you’re looking for what you consider a yoga studio, you’re in the wrong place. My studio is about yoga, not about image.

That one sticking point has prevented income over the years. I could make more if I spent more time focused on image, scenery and facade but how would it affect my practice? My concern is that it would lose depth. I love looking at photos of sadhus in India in sackcloth covered in ashes. That my friends is yoga. You’re breaking down your ego, not bolstering it with brazillian wood floors and painted mandalas in an air conditioned building.

Both as a teacher and practitioner I go where I feel works best for me. Image isn’t my forte. If you’re looking for image this isn’t your practice and I’m not your teacher. Substance? Oh, there’s depth over here.

“Once in awhile you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right.”~~the Grateful Dead

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