Why Resilient Movement?
A few years into teaching yoga full-time I came to the uneasy realization that I had been building my new chosen profession on shaky ground.
I had practiced yoga asana consistently for six years before I left my position as a manager for a non-profit environmental organization to become a yoga teacher. I didn’t give the financials of that transition enough thought, which certainly speaks to my privilege and my naivete, and also just how much I loved yoga.
I completed my initial 200hr teacher training at YogaWorks here in New York City and began to hustle hard. My first year teaching was pretty successful by industry standards and within five months I was teaching a full schedule of classes. Despite that, I have never worked as hard to make as little money, and I wouldn’t have been able to survive had it not been for savings I was fortunate to have.
Over the five years I taught yoga full-time, I invested in myself as a teacher and as a businessperson. I completed advanced trainings and honed my craft; I taught sold-out workshops, retreats and teacher trainings; I became savvy about social media, email communications and finances; I built a strong community of fellow teachers and a roster of private clients; and it was still hard to make a living as a yoga teacher. Which is when I began to realize that maybe the problem wasn’t me.
Maybe, this industry is not set up for teachers to thrive in.
I found myself at a crossroads. One where I was considering leaving the industry altogether. I decided that for whatever time I was to remain in it, I would work to make teaching a more equitable and sustainable profession for all. And if I were to one day step away from the industry, it would be knowing I was able to leave it better than I found it. That work is not yet done.
I used to measure my practice in the execution of a movement. Now I measure it in degrees of courage.
I used to think of alignment as guidelines for avoiding injury that were handed down by teachers who knew more than me. Now, alignment means considering what I am aligning myself with.
Am I aligning with fears that would keep me complacent with the status quo?
Or, am I aligning with my values and with a vision of what a just world looks like?
I began teaching yoga because I wanted to help people feel safe and empowered. Through my work in organizing, my eyes have been opened to structural reasons that often prevent people from feeling that way in the first place, and how safety, respect and empowerment can be created through community and collaboration.
In February 2019, a few fellow teachers and I began discussing the challenges of being a full-time yoga teacher. For the year following, I played a lead role in organizing within the teaching community and forming Unionize Yoga, the first labor union for yoga and movement teachers in the United States.
Through a hybrid of traditional organizing tactics and a sophisticated communications strategy, Unionize Yoga gave teachers a voice and raised significant public support in the process.
Now, I’m helping others do the same.
What can I say? I fell in love with organizing.