As professionals in the yoga business, meaning that we are earning money in some aspect of the yoga business, we meet all kinds of characters, all kinds of personalities, and all kinds of egos, just as we do in any business. Just as we do in life.
Many wide-eyed innocent new yoga professionals are surprised by this meeting of egos in the yoga world. I often hear, “You would think that in yoga, people would be more open, more giving, more sharing, more fair, have more ethics, wouldn’t have such big egos….” or whatever.
Why this surprise?
The yoga world is composed of people and every single person has an ego. That’s a fact. It’s not a question of having more or less ego, it’s a question of having a healthy ego.
Unless you’re radical like Eckhart Tolle who believes that the ego is of absolutely no use whatsoever, you’re working on cultivating a healthy ego.
As yoga professionals we have the unique chance of being mindful of our own egos as we work to balance our business, our ethics, and our sense of self worth.
I can only speak as an independent yoga teacher as I’ve never owned a studio, so I only know about negotiating my own conditions for pay, for travel, for lodging, etc. Before yoga became my only source of income, I was a salaried professional. I received a regular paycheck for regular work. Not much to negotiate. But as a new teacher, I had to learn to navigate the business end of this thing that I love doing, yoga.
At first, I was unsure of myself and accepted pay an conditions that weren’t ideal. I consulted with colleagues who had more experience than I did and even though I received good advice and specific dollar or euro numbers to work with, the experience of declaring my worth and then receiving the money exchange wasn’t yet mine. It took time and a lot of experimentation.
I really don’t like hearing yoga teachers saying, “Oh, I’m not good with advertising and marketing. I’m not comfortable selling myself. I’m not good at negotiating money.” I don’t like it, because I think it’s fake. It’s a way of excusing oneself from doing the very thing that we KNOW is what allows us to live in this society. We need money in order to survive and to thrive. Not good, not bad, it just IS.
There’s the idea that yogis have this ethical problem asking for money. I don’t think that’s the case. I think it’s a façade. A sort of apology for asking someone to pay for yoga. This sort of attitude is devaluing yourself. This is not a healthy ego. This is the flip side of a big ego. But an inflated or deflated ego or essentially the same problem.
Money that we receive or lack thereof, is just one way that reflect our self worth.
Then there’s the issue of status. Who’s the most popular teacher at the studio? Who gets first billing at an event? Who gets mentioned by whatever publication?
This is an ego thing and this is a business thing. When we obsess about what teacher gets what and is it more or less than I get and my name wasn’t mentioned, but his was, and we start gossiping about it, and blah blah blah, then there’s a problem. It’s time to investigate what’s going on in our own egos. On the other hand it we’re not given credit where credit is due, if we’re being slighted on a regular bases, we also have to investigate.
We need to find the balance, Buddha’s middle way, in order to function from a healthy ego. We need to ask ourselves when we are being outrageous, overbearing, fame-seeking, greedy and when we are being weak, undervaluing ourselves, self-deprecating. Neither of those states ultimately feels good, nor makes us happy.
We feel good when we are balanced. When he have a healthy sense of self. When we know deep down that we are not falling into excess or deficiency.
Yoga professionals, welcome this encounter with the ego, your own and others, as an opportunity to build your business and your life and way that benefits all, including yourself.
*Let me know about your encounters with the ego in the comments.