India: the answer to every yoga teacher’s financial problems
By Laci Chiodo
To all of the struggling yoga teachers out there looking for a little respect, I have one word for you: India.
Are you approaching thirty and still making $20 a class? Do local studios snub you because they’ve never heard your name? Are you tired of waiting for the weekly karma yoga class you teach to pay off? If you fear that the bliss bubble you have been so diligently cultivating for yourself is about to explode, and you’re secretly plotting to blow up the next studio that tells you they’re not hiring, you are not alone.
Sure, you could toss your mat, get an office job and take up Zumba—but who wants a steady paycheck with benefits and weekends off? You are a seeker of truth. Donuts and cubicles are not on your path. But just because you’ve decided to discard your college degree, doesn’t mean you have to pretend to be content with driving your 1990 Honda Accord and hitting up Planned Parenthood for the free condoms. It’s time to wise up, my friend. You need to go to India.
Yes, that’s right, the Motherland. In order to learn the art of spiritual hustling, you must go straight to the source. Fuck your vision board, your Lakshmi statue, and your positive intentions you’ve been sending out to the universe. Gather up all your donations from your yoga in the park class and buy a ticket to India. Tell all of your students, bosses, friends and family that you are taking a sabbatical to deepen your practice and connect to your higher self. Inform them that they can track your spiritual progress by following you on Twitter.
While in India there are a few key things you should do in order to prove you were there and impress the folks back home:
- Stay in an Ashram
- Buy a harmonium
- Get your nose pierced
- Take pictures of yourself with cows, elephants and poverty stricken children
- Study yoga, of course. If you really want respect, study Ashtanga. Yoga practitioners who don’t practice Ashtanga are generally afraid of those who do. Tell people you studied Ashtanga in India… and you’ve just tripled your intimidation factor. (*Bonus points for getting injured from a gnarly adjustment)
During your travels beware of tap water, street food, white people who introduce themselves as Hanuman or Shanti, and anything that appears to be free. Nothing is free in India.
Everyone is out to make a rupee, including the gurus. Take note: part of being enlightened is knowing how to hustle. Be sure to update your Facebook with pictures of you doing sweet asanas beside a river or in the middle of the bustling marketplace. In your downtime, work on revamping your resume. Under the “Experience” section, mindfully delete every underpaid teaching job you’ve ever had and simply write, “India, Bitches!”
Upon returning from your trip, hit up all the studios that previously turned you down, and inform them of your recent travels. When teaching or in conversation with fellow yogis, casually drop sentences that begin with, “When I was in India…” You see, even if you did nothing but eat curry and shop for scarves, saying you’ve been to India earns you instant respect within the yoga community. Learn as much as you can from both the true gurus and the impostors. Everyone has something to offer.
Take that knowledge back to your hometown and start demanding the divine dollars from anyone who so much as asks you to touch your toes. You studied in India, damn it! Sure, yoga is supposed to help you peel away the layers of the ego, but how are you ever going to make it out of Muladhara chakra when you are constantly straddling the poverty line? As for non-attachment, fuck it. The first step on your path of self-discovery is admitting to yourself that you want to shop at Whole Foods and drive a Prius. In order to do that, you need to make money. If demanding money makes you feel greedy or uncomfortable, consider it an investment in your own wellbeing.
Teaching yoga does not have to be a struggle. It’s true. If your soul is slowly withering and your kundalini is retreating, don’t give up. Go to India.
About Laci Chiodo
Laci Chiodo teaches yoga in San Diego. When she is not teaching or practicing, she enjoys napping and snacking. She loves traveling, reading, writing and floating in tropical water. To learn more about Laci, visit www.yogamermaid.com