The Truth about Working in the Yoga Industry
“It wasn’t what it seemed. The website was fake.
The lack of integrity is disturbing…”
Nobody warned me that the cheap prices in India are down to the lack of expertise, shocking filthy accommodation full of insects and unclean linen, no hot water (often not even a shower most of the time, just a tap and bucket) and food that constantly made everyone sick as they use the untreated, third-world-country tap water to prepare their food. I arrived to discover that the staff shown on the website, who I was extremely excited to learn from and accept as my ‘gurus’ didn’t exist. Behind the scenes, the IT guy proudly announced to me that he created the bios and found the images on a website of made-up faces! The head of the ashram had lost interest, passion and focus in yoga for many years and he simply attended classes with zero enthusiasm, just to make the money. There was no anatomy expert teacher and I was asked to step in and run the anatomy classes. The syllabus did not align with Yoga Alliance at all, so I contacted YA directly, asked for the criteria and requirements and modified the trainings to provide a program that adequately prepared students to teach yoga, meeting the Yoga Alliance expectations. I did the best I could with what I had, and I did not tell any one of my students in India that the school I was working for was a business scam and the program was my own. I represented the school and maintained professionalism at all times. My pay didn’t even cover my food, let alone my expenses back in Australia. I was becoming more and more deflated, tired and sad by the day, my students were my energy and their gratitude and seeing them reach potential they never knew resided within them was my payment. And it was enough and saw me through a year.
However, realising Yoga was a great big scam here was just devastating for me. They say one thing, and do another. They talk about balancing the Chakras, yet create so much imbalance through lies and deceit. What was I doing and what kept me here?
My meditation practice became stronger by the day and I had a profound realisation that I was actually running the show at the yoga school! It wasn’t them, they were merely marketing and bringing the students in, but the YTT program was all me and our student’s success was due to my absolute focus, dedication, care, love and commitment to each and every student. Why was I working for someone else?
Upon speaking with Yoga Alliance, I discovered my extensive resume, training and teaching hours well exceeded the baseline requirements to open a school. So I did. Starting in India, then moving to Bali. Now proudly listed in the top 5 best schools in Indonesia.
It isn’t luck and it wasn’t easy. The journey has been downright exhausting, tiring and I have lost friends whose values didn’t align with mine. I’ve become stronger, thicker-skinned. I WILL NOT be a people-pleaser anymore for the wrong reasons. It is a lie and I won’t lie.
I have faced A LOT of disheartening situations here in Bali, including working with business partners who lack integrity and are downright bullies, venue owners who scammed thousands of dollars in a collaboration to which they didn’t see through their end of the deal and people in this industry who absolutely lack honesty, integrity, love, compassion and respect. Their website says one thing, they offer another. Business-minded individuals who are so focused on the money, they lose the love and passion. I have been cheated and scammed repeatedly, bullied, hurt, found myself having to start over again. I know I trust too easily, but I guess it takes one to know one – so I never expect the worst to pan out when it’s not in my own nature. My ongoing trust in others had me looking like a stupid, naive, ignorant fool time and time again. Each time I’d pour months of love and effort into something, only to lose thousands of dollars. I couldn’t have blamed myself if I gave up at any one time on the journey, but I believed in the yoga and yoga teaches us the tools to persevere and remain true to oneself, connecting heart with mind and communication. And I believe in Karma.
As it just so happens, I have completed my 23rd 200hr yoga teacher training, as we near the end of 2023! My beloved in life, love and business stands strongly by my side as we run Loka Yoga School together, including a beautiful online academy of powerful and empowering certified self-paced online trainings. We are so beyond proud to be ranked as having one of the best Yin Yoga, Breathwork and Meditation Teacher Training programs in the world. We worked hard and the journey has been tough, but perseverance and integrity got us here.
The other teachers working with us have been with us for a few years now and each training just gets better. We are dear friends. More than that, we are family. I am surrounded by love, compassion, support, encouragement, zero jealousy and absolute honesty, trust, respect and easy communication. As a business owner, I vow to NEVER treat anyone the way I have been treated. To NEVER lie to any of my staff, students or online. To ALWAYS be honest, maintain integrity and strive to exceed expectations each and every single time. Not to please people, but simply to live from a place of love and compassion. That is yoga. That is life. Love is everything.
I hope my story provides a little hope for many, a lot of truth to some. Sharing the stories that I kept myself silenced from sharing has taken a lot within me. Thank you to my beautiful students, graduates and fellow teachers who encouraged me to write this article. May we continue to speak words of truth, when kind and necessary.
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