Finding my Niche in an Ever Growing Yoga World
Updated: May 17, 2020
You think there’s a lot of yoga variations to choose from? Try instructors to learn from. Having just graduated in March from my Yoga Teacher Training, I am at the threshold of kicking off becoming a certified Yoga Instructor. But how do I find my place? Westernized Yoga has been on a steady rise for years. The amount of people practicing has risen up to 50% in the US in 5 years. And according to the International Yoga Federation, there are about 300 million people who practice yoga in the world. Now, imagine how many instructors are thrown into the mix.
From this place, many, many questions have arisen, and they mostly begin with ‘How’? How am I going to be able to do this when there are already so many yoga instructors, who have more experience than I do? How do I navigate my way into this world? How do I find my own voice? My own flavour? How do I stand out? How do I help people? How do I create a world that people want to be a part of?
And then I take a step back and think maybe the ‘How’ can wait until I figure out the ‘Why’. Why do I want to instruct in the first place? Isn’t it enough that I can lead myself in my own yogic practice? Yes it is, AND I want to share what I am learning with others. Why? Because the more I learn, the more goodness I create from the life long practice of Yoga. And to serve others is an integral part of stepping into my Higher Power.
First, I have to let some of you in on a little secret - one I only just really learnt myself at the beginning of my teacher training. Yoga is not just about poses. That is just one limb of eight that make up the integrative practice of Yoga. So within my own style and flavour, I’m not just teaching poses, I am teaching a way of being. For me, what I am learning, yoga is the complete spiritual practice. What Ayurveda is for the body & mind, Yoga is for the soul and beyond. It’s energy, it’s flow, it’s life force, it’s kindness, it’s service, it’s a way to hold yourself in the court of life & the cosmos. A spiritual quest and means by which we live life. An unfiltered union between your Higher Self & the Divine. Simple? Haha, not likely to us average human beings. I have some serious doubts that I will reach my pinnacle of Higher Self in this lifetime, but that’s what I’m now here to try.
Second, I have to look at what people are wanting from their yoga practice. And at the same time, understand that there's no way to cater to everyone. Now, there are enough instructors out there who are walking people through the poses. Awesome. I can check that off the list as not what I want to do. I believe many people are happy to just go to class, plop their mat down, go through the poses, sweat a little, and head home. That’s awesome too. I know many people like this - Getting into the spiritual jam isn't their thing, it wasn’t mine either for many years. I just wasn’t ready to see what was on the other side. Now I am, and have been not only incorporating it into my daily practice for years now, but also daily life interactions as well. Find my people within that.
Third, to tie it all together, I head into the ‘What’. What will be my niche? What can I offer that others may not be able to? This ties back into my Ayurvedic studies - A lifestyle that I am able to guide people through. My main goal as someone who is offering & sharing Ayurvedic wisdom, is to assist in the balance of the Doshas, to collaborate with my clients to support long, abundant and illness free lives. Many aspects can affect this balancing act including lifestyle, diet, environment, exercise, spiritual practice, meditation, etc. Yoga is a HUGE proponent to living a balanced life. And Ayurveda and Yoga as seen as sister sciences, one cannot really exist without the other. Yoga builds upon the foundation of Ayurveda and similarly Ayurveda alone is unfulfilling to the human psyche as it evolves towards Self-Realization. “Yoga rests upon Ayurvedic medicine for its health implications. Ayurveda rests upon Yoga for its mental & spiritual dimension.” - David Frawley. Creating and developing yogic practices that are specific to each Dosha, I believe, will help to create more awareness in the body, gain more strength within the body, and begin to open up a more spiritual practice above & beyond the motion of the poses. Dig deeper. I have begun instructing myself through creating specific Vinyasa sequences for Vatas which create deep concentration & focus, as well as incorporating more of a flow practice which allows for a rhythmic connection to the breath. If I don’t live, breath & practice it myself, how am I able to do so for others?
Lastly, I could also incorporate what my ‘claim to fame’ is - living alcohol free. If you knew me three years ago, you wouldn’t believe I am the person standing in front of you today. I was destroyed, beaten down, dependant on substances to live, to feel, just the work of an extremely lost and sad individual. Making my way out of the rubble, I have gathered major life experience within the realm of trauma, depression, discipline, pain, and stopping a dependency that nearly killed me. I have no judgement towards people’s stories. You can tell me anything gnarly about yourself and I won’t blink an eye. Many people have told me they feel safe sharing their story me, I listen. I’m not there to fix or cure or make it all better - sometimes all someone wants to be is heard. There is so much more that goes into this though, it’s not just about quitting alcohol. Fuck, I wish sometimes it were that easy. But then I wouldn’t be where I am today. And the teachings of Yoga do tie into all of this as well - how to treat yourself, how to treat others, how to learn about your body, how to breath. So I feel in some capacity, living alcohol free will make it into my lessons at some point, just not sure what that looks like in this moment.
Now I just have to stop writing and go do it!! Haha. See you on the other side. X -K
NOTE: Shout out to Brea at Hearts & Bones Yoga for her guidance on “Finding Your Niche.” I don’t subscribe to her online courses, but I do appreciate her style and way of teaching.