The Truth about Working in the Yoga Industry

The Truth about Working in the Yoga Industry

“It wasn’t what it seemed.  The website was fake. 

The lack of integrity is disturbing…”

In the yoga studio scene, it can be a downright brutal competition and race of ‘who can answer the Facebook post seeking a yoga teacher‘ the fastest for any yoga teacher starting out.  The feelings of anxiety increase and this can create a somewhat competitive or jealous energy between yogi friends as they fight for the teaching gigs.  Everyone wants to employ teachers with a certain level of experience, but how to get experience when it’s a fast fight?! 
And that is not even the start of it… 
Having lived and taught in Australia, India and Bali, I’ve seen firsthand the EXTREME amount of fraud, dishonesty, lack of integrity, copy & paste of logos on websites implying schools have certain certification rights when they actually don’t, outright lies, completely made-up teacher bios with images of people that don’t even exist (the power of AI), fresh yoga graduates leading classes in the yoga teacher trainings or having strong input to teacher trainings without any experience whatsoever… you name it, it’s all happening.  And it’s all in the pursuit of money.  Wait, what?!  Is that not exactly what we work to unravel with the teachings of Aparigraha?
Following teaching several years as a full time yoga, meditation and breathwork teacher, I felt like I arrived in India with eyes wide shut, and my heart hurt to discover the truth lurking in the schools that are situated in this ‘home of yoga’.  It was a great big booming business full of scammers, liars, cheaters.  I felt isolated with my values of love, compassion, honesty, integrity, trust, respect and communication.  Very alone and quite lonely to be honest.  
I had sacrificed everything to move to India, including my soletrader freelance business ‘Yoga Vitality’ which I had successfully created and built in Western Australia, teaching 30+ yoga classes a week in various studios, fitness centres, corporate offices, teaching elite athletes and Olympians in the AIF (Aust Institute of Fitness) and community centres, managing 4 different yoga studios, controlling the recruitment of yoga teachers and guiding breathwork and meditation for corporate health and wellness initiatives in the oil & gas and mining industries.  I had sold my car, found a tenant to move into my apartment, thrown out a lot of stuff and said a heartbreaking goodbye to my new baby niece, in order to embark on a journey of personal development & challenge myself; an invitation to move to an ashram in India and manage incorporating power, vinyasa and sequencing workshops into the curriculum of a 200 and 300hr yoga teacher training school in Rishikesh. 
yoga industry
I was the only lead teacher and there's only so much 1 single teacher can offer. But I tried, because I loved.

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. 

A private meeting and blessing with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. I was told by his Secretary that he doesn't meet just anyone and that I must feel honoured and blessed. I do. I always have. This profound meeting changed my life forever.

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. 

If you liked this article and want to read more, feel free to check out our blog here.

6 thoughts on “The Truth about Working in the Yoga Industry”

  1. Wow. Way to make lemonade out of those lemons! It can truly be difficult to outshine adversity and to find gratitude in these experiences- I’m so happy that you stayed true to yourself and your beliefs and found strength in overcoming your challenges 🙂
    Sometimes you don’t know what you’re capable of (or where that edge is, if things don’t turn out too favorably) until you are put to the test.

  2. Wow, what an eye-opening blog post. Thank you for sharing, Taryn. 🙏 And thank you for keeping on sharing your love for this ancient tradition. It is souls like you and Yann who keep the standards and vibes high in an industry that´s been flooded with “wanna-bes” and scams. I am very sorry to hear that you´ve experienced what you´ve been trough. And yet, I feel it made you the teacher you are today. Serving your students, serving this ancient knowledge that I hold very close to my heart. Only after reading your post I understand that I am very blessed to call you my teacher. Love to watch Loka Yoga School grow further and reach many, many more beautiful souls our there and would love to catch up soon and keep on learning from you. Sending love 💛🕉️

  3. Beate Kristin Parnemann

    I’m so sorry that you have this experience in Rishikesh. The industry of yoga is just going to far, and it’s sad. Thank you for not giving up and thank you for finding your way. You are the most amazing teacher I ever had. My dream is to visit you in Bali. I must overcome the fear of traveling alone again 🙈. Big hugs 🤗.

  4. Taryn I wish I was at the point of doing teacher training as you are THE one person I have wanted to do this with. I remember being a student in your classes in Perth and you are just the most beautiful person inside and out. I can relate to Shades’ comment about meeting an old friend. I am so glad we have stayed in touch and I love following your journey. Thank you for sharing so open heartedly and honestly. I appreciate the truth, always, and I can feel that this would not have been easy for you. I applaud you for your courage, bravery and upholding your values, integrity, honesty, truth and communication. Your love of yoga has always shined through – not just the practice but the entire way of being and living. Sending love and light to you x

  5. This is raw and real and it takes a lot of courage to speak the harsh truth. I appreciate each word.
    Only a person who’s been through all this can relate to the needs of their students. You have gone far and beyond to serve your students. You have created a safe space from a foundation of truth and honesty, and it reflects (roars) in your trainings, your time and presence, your carefully picked accommodation and food, and your approach to constructive feedback.
    I remember the day we met in person, it was like meeting old friends!
    Taryn, thank you for sharing and enlightening x

    The one line we heard throughout the training was “don’t have expectations”
    However, you exceeded mine 🙏🏼
    Sending love from the warm heart of Africa ♥️

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