India: the answer to every yoga teacher’s financial problems

Published on September 10, 2013 by      Print
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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:

  1. Stay in an Ashram
  2. Buy a harmonium
  3. Get your nose pierced
  4. Take pictures of yourself with cows, elephants and poverty stricken children
  5. 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 Laci Chiodo

Filed under: Soulless Hippies | Zombie Yoga and Tagged:


  1. Anna says:

    This is freakily accurate

  2. Dani says:

    “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.”

    TOO GOOD. Thanks for this!

  3. (0v0) says:

    Yes. God yes.

    It’s true.

    • (0v0) says:

      Also, this is my favorite:

      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.

  4. Christa says:

    I LOLed at “fuck your vision board” – classic! Very funny. Thanks for the chuckle.

  5. India for Yoga Teachers | Yoga for Unicorns says:

    [...] ought to study it at the source.  But this is especially true for yoga teachers:  check out this awesome article by my friend and India roomie Laci Chiodo for some reasons [...]

  6. vivian says:

    Laci I LOVE this, so playful and a little gritty ( kinda like how you teach I presume :) Whenever I hear a teacher refer to their studies I respect them a little more, going to India is equivalent to getting a doctorate at Harvard. If there’s anything we yoga teachers can take from the hustlers around the world, its don’t give it all away for free. All your studies, your certifications, they mean something. You are worth something (monetarily among other things), just like the person who received an MBA in business would earn more. So if you studied in India, Spain, Alabama, if you have a masters or doctorate in Yoga, if you help people to feel better in their bodies, then you should be compensated. Stop giving everything away for free…our 200hr yoga alliance trainings should have more realistic “business of yoga” lectures.

  7. Stephen says:

    This is so accurate it hurts.

  8. Lia says:

    I’ve been to India several times to study Ashtanga, got the gnarly injury, all of the above….but I’m STILL not getting paid…what am I doing wrong?

  9. shannon says:

    Hysterical! I am a simple student, I did go to India- for a month- I just had to- it is the motherland. I highly recommend it.
    Trying to earn a decent living as a yoga teacher… really difficult I would imagine- especially if you are a non gimmicky purist. I enjoy your class lacy- I work a lot of weekends though so cannot always attend now i feel guilty

  10. Melissa Calmes says:

    Love this article! I went to Bali and that still isn’t getting me paid! Namaste Bitches!

  11. Dipika says:

    danm i am in some deep ish, i was born and raised in india until 16, studies with lots of wonderful teachers then came to america and studies with lots of “Yogalebrities” and danmmm girl, I am still not getting paid…. i think it’s time for a makeover…you know switch my hair color from raven to blonde and invest in a whole new “YOGINI LOOK” and get “FOLLOWERS” so studios could really see the “value” i bring to their “clients” lol ahhh san diego yoga scene cracks me up!

    thanks for the laughter! i appreciate the sassy humor.

    on seriously note, i think, somewhere between malas, green smoothies, lu lu lemon and must do “teacher trainings, retreats and workshops”", two important chapters of being a practitioner are lost, critical thinking and discernment…(danmit!)

    and then again, i am not sure what else to expect when we have every studio in town, spewing out 12-25 “Yoga Teachers” twice a year on no other merit than a payment plan and fluffy hippy lingo.

    it’s actually becoming really really sad, to watch the the essence of yoga getting lost.

  12. VQ2 says:

    Frankly, I am not impressed. Don’t go to India. There’s been a backlash in commercialized yoga today. Reach the masses. WE still take yoga. And we take it online, too. So, don’t go to India. The industry is in crisis enough these days. You don’t have to appeal just to the affluent. Oh, and get a day job, the rest of the world has one, why not you?

    • VQ2 says:

      My final words on the matter:

      We all have different paths, (this is my perspective as a student of yoga and long time practitioner)… with me, first it had been the New York City public schools in the 1970′s with a rogue gym teacher at a magnet school (brought back her influence of a teacher’s summer off spent at Esalen Institute) … then it had been several free hippie-ish classes sprinkled here and there … later at an aerobics studio (where I worked on only three poses – taught by a tough aerobics teacher) … then a gym, a tiny series of studios … I think only one of my non-online teachers had been to India for training … and he isn’t teaching me yoga now …

  13. Nicole says:

    So funny! Loved “white people who introduce themselves as Hanuman or Shanti.” Great stuff!

  14. Summer says:

    This is an awesome article! Love!

  15. instantyogi says:

    Sorry but I thought the whole “I studied in India” think lost its magical power like well over a decade ago. Even then I could walk into any yoga studio in any largish metropolitan city and encounter lots of people who at least claimed that had made some kind of pilgrimage to India.

    And these days they have those “express pilgrimages” where for enough money they fly you over for some quickie lessons with a student of a student of some Master after which you get some certificate you can put on the studio wall. Instant yogi !

    Put another way – these days it is rare that I encounter a yoga teacher who has NOT been to India (or at least claimed to have been). Whether or not they actually did much of anything while they were there is usually kept secret although, once back in America, their story will grow in grandiosity with each telling.

  16. A maintenance level Ashtanga practice is most useful as a mental & physical preparation for the day | Queen of the East Village says:

    [...] Here’s a little humor. Too funny!!!! To all of the struggling yoga teachers out there looking for a little respect, I have one word for y… [...]

  17. Vernette Butler says:

    This is so true! Very funny.

  18. Carla Q. says:

    I did my yoga teacher training in Rikishesh and Goa with the guys at , sure like a lot of people out there but I think that you have to go at least once in India to train yourself!

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