The definition of going ‘to the office’ in 2020 has many designations. Today, remote occupations seem to be more desirable for the millennial jobseeker than cubicle life. You’ve seen the ads. And I’m sure you’ve made a meditation out of picturing yourself without the constraints of rent, family or fear of flying. I say this from experience, for I, too, swoon when I see a job posting with a very comfortable person on top of a mountain with a laptop, getting paid it seems, to live their dream. The dream is never as strong as it is when I am stuck in traffic on my way to the studio on a Monday morning, screaming the Gayatri Mantra in an attempt to practice conjuring patience. The driver’s seat becomes my desk, the picture out the window ever morphing at varying speeds. We are all at the mercy of the world around us, its congestion and race against time. We ask “why” and trudge along, attempting to be mindful in the process. This begs the question: how can our practice, as teachers and students, evolve in the new decade when we are bombarded with every-day challenges and the competition of our app-heavy world?
At the tail-end of my generation (80’s babies are still millennials right?), I have seen computers evolve and shrink, cell phones replace pens, one thousand books become accessible on a single device, organic food shipped in dry ice, and virtual relationships take precedent over real ones. I, myself, lead a virtual life. My hours are erratic. I write and research from anywhere USA. I mostly exercise at home through a variety of phone apps and YouTube, replacing the VHS’s from when I was a kid. I’ve always been this way, preferring solitary self-betterment instead of leaving my comfort to sweat with others in a warehouse across town. Like most people, my schedule is something that changes daily. Yet, despite it all, I have chosen to spend a huge chuck of my time in the world physically in front of people, driving to gyms and theatres teaching people how to breathe, stretch, and Om. And though I love it, I wonder how much longer I can do it.
It is exhausting, time consuming, and isn’t very environmentally effective being a yoga teacher today, most of the time, especially considering how much gas is burned between jobs. Usually, we teach at more than one location either by hustling or simply being invited by the people you inevitably meet. The commute is real, and it can be exhausting and challenging to manage our time effectively to lead spacious, unhurried
lives. Not to mention the time it takes away from our family and home life. The time it takes to walk, bike or train it to the next teaching engagement can be your daily adventure or horror, revive or drain us. Is it worth it? How do you cope with it? As long as there is a screen and an internet connection, the commute does not have to eat away the productivity of the day. Unless you’re the one behind the wheel. Eyes on the road ahead, literally and figuratively. We have to reevaluate how we value our time.
Like live theatre, live yoga can be taught in a found-space like a park, empty warehouse or apartment. Such is also the case for that vague parameter of what constitutes a yoga classroom, or what it means to hold space for your students, even if that physical space is far away. Beyond the gym or studio, your office is wherever your students are. Instead of desks. There are mats. Instead of modern corporate art, there are vinyl sticky oms and lotus flowers adorning a doorway. Or, simply, and often times the most peaceful, there is the beauty of nature all around. The glamor of the job lies in the fact that many of us vociferously long for a life away from a desk, unconfined, and free.
Our American world values convenience over connection, and it has affected how we operate in the world, and towards each other. We are more isolated than ever, and at the same time bombarded with community that fits in the palm of our hand. So many teachers I have come in contact with have relayed to me that the former model for teaching yoga in studios or schools or gyms is a way of the past. People like to burn less gas, stay home, and have the practice come to them instead of the other way around. But what about us, your guides? As a mere human instructor, it is easy to become discouraged by the business of yoga and lose sight of why we teach in the first place. I’m guessing to be a personal trainer was not your reason for joining a teacher training. Or maybe it was. Either way, definitely ask yourself why is it you wanted to teach.
When I teach yoga, it is always in person, at a gym/studio or in my home, and I do rather like it that way. I teach because it has always brought me joy, and I intend to follow that feeling no matter what I do. Given my rather introverted personal practice, I know, however, that it is not the only way to teach, spending more time getting to and from class than the class itself. I have been teaching yoga for ten years, all over the place. I also have a nine-to-five where I sit at a desk and manage schedules and appointments for others. My finances still depend on my desk job, and I’m one of the lucky ones, from my perspective. I live in a home where the cost of living is slim to none. I even get free lunch. And I am slowly learning the age old art of saying “no,” and “yes” where appropriate, instead of from an insatiable need or fear of missing out. But that is not the majority of cases, I have found, jetting around the island I call home spreading what I’ve learned about hatha yoga, and saving some pennies as I do so. And in 2020 it is my goal to carve out more time that is of value to me. So now I’m looking to see how my devices can serve me, instead of the other way around. How can my introversion benefit me and my business of being a yoga teacher?
Research the online platforms available to you. Curiosity and drive work well together. How do you fit into the budding mold? Teachers and students alike have been able to share their practice online, with live classes streaming all over the world, not just pre-recorded like the days of yore. You are connected by an original, live sequence, to an indiscernible amount of people, breathing in sync with you. There is variety, a new class every day, and a new teacher too. A waterfall backdrop is no longer something you have to travel to experience but can be projected onto our very walls. Sure, we have to stretch our imagination a bit, but it is part of the fun, the endless play of yoga to find new ways of practicing. And teaching.
So how do we evolve with the times? What does the future of your yoga journey look like for you? As Oprah said just the other day during her 2020 Vision tour at Barclay’s in Brooklyn: “You’re late. Stop complaining that you’re late, you’re late.” I’m paraphrasing here but what she said stayed with me. It made me question my mindfulness and my choices in pursuit of something I am wishing for more than doing. And accepting that I am the master of my fate, my office hours, and my style. My wish for all of you this year is just that: accept where you are and whistle wherever it is you work. Until you can find a better way that’s worth while.