As many of you already know, prior to dropping my nine-to-five gig, I had a pretty stable career in the field of communication. It was a fast-paced, challenging, relatively lucrative, and everything I had worked towards as a college student. I was on my way to becoming exactly what I had envisioned and I was miserable. After years of sitting at a desk, I felt physically and emotionally stuck. It was not the prettiest of times, so I sought out a career change and here I am. Mom. Yoga Instructor. Communication Professional. Juggling these three roles can be hectic at times, but it is manageable if I keep things a bit compartmentalized. Here is where the problem lies; as I near the end of my latest round of training and seek to make my journey in yoga instruction sustainable, I need to bring two worlds together – communication and yoga. Ugh.
I don’t want to market my yoga classes … but I have to. UGH.
As Andrea Jain notes in her book Selling Yoga (2015), as a means to success, “Yoga entrepreneurs and organizations seek to disseminate yoga to the general populace. To do that, yoga needs to stand out in the marketplace among available products and services, by being branded or ‘packaged’ in ways that make it seem valuable, accessible, and unique” (p.75). The very notion of putting yoga into the “products and services” category makes me cringe. This is due, in part, to my overall disdain for many tried and true marketing techniques. More importantly though, to market my style of yoga practice and “stand out” requires me to market myself. Essentially, I have to turn myself into a commodity. UGH.
Of course there are many yogis who have done this successfully throughout the years, but at what cost? I often wonder if those most high-profile yoga instructors (the ones who make the big bucks offering workshops, trainings, lectures, etc.) truly enjoy teaching and sharing the practice anymore. When you (and/or your name) become the brand available for sale, I imagine that has to have a significant impact on your overall identity and ability to function in society. So no, I don’t want to become a brand. There will be no “Imke Yoga”. That’s my line in the sand.
Unfortunately, I cannot pay my bills with fairy dust and happy thoughts so I will have to spend some energy increasing the visibility of my “product” Flowing Meditations Yoga. To do so, I have created a list of “yes”s:
- Yes, I will promote classes and events
- Yes, I will create flyers and social media campaigns
- Yes, I will adhere to branding standards
- Yes, I will sell swag (cue shameless plug to go purchase some merchandise) to increase brand recognition
- Yes, I will remain committed to self-study and teaching in a way that is authentically me
I also have my list of “no”s:
- No, I will not allow my name to be used as a brand
- No, I will not compromise my standards to meet market demand
- No, I will not teach fad yoga classes (a la goat yoga) to attract students
- No, I will not spend every minute of my day worrying about the success of a marketing campaign
- No, I will not allow myself to see my students as $$$
Like everything else in my life, I want this to feel balanced. So what can you all do to help? If you enjoy practicing with me, spread the word. Don’t be shy. Tell your friends. Tell your family. Wear your Flowing Meditations Yoga swag (cue second shameless plug to go purchase something) and get people talking. This is how we build a community and that’s really what I’m looking to do here.
Jain, A.R. (2015). Selling yoga: from counterculture to pop culture. New York: Oxford University Press.