Yoga and abundance don’t always feel like they belong together. One yoga teacher shares the lessons she learned about accepting wealth and tearing down financial barriers that weren’t serving her.
As I watched the snow fall into the hot tub at the retreat center I was visiting, nestled in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, I found myself thinking, How did I get this luxury?! Taking four days off to indulge at a hot springs in the mountains while learning from my yoga mentor seemed like a far cry from my start as a yoga teacher. Being underpaid was a regular occurrence when I first started teaching. Struggling to buy groceries, trips to the gas station hoping that I didn’t go over the twenty dollars I had in my wallet, and not being able to afford health care (gulp) were discomforts I grew strangely accustomed to.
I was extremely passionate about teaching yoga and I loved doing it, but my bank account did not match my passion as an instructor. As much as I would like to blame corporations, point my finger at capitalism, and gnash my teeth at the unfair nature of my soulful work being so undervalued, the truth is that my value as a teacher was already at a deficit before I even stepped foot into a yoga studio.
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When I followed the thread that led me to being a “poor yoga teacher,” I could trace it all the way back to the old sayings that were instilled in my absorbent young brain as a child: “Money doesn’t grow on trees.” “You have to work hard for money.” Or the most insidious, “Good people don’t need money.”
These seeds grew in my subconscious at a slow and steady rate. Over time, they became my reality, and as my yoga career developed, so did my belief that money meant struggle.
See also A 5-Minute Meditation To Relieve Financial Stress
I said “yes” to unpaid yoga gigs. I constantly bustled across town from one teaching job to the next. And I watched as my own practice fell to the wayside because teaching at a high volume was siphoning all my time and energy.
Finally I hit a bottom. I was fed up with scraping by, and I knew something had to change. I realized that if I wanted abundance, I needed to make a choice. That choice was to start shifting my perspective around money so that that I could not only heal my relationship with money, but also welcome prosperity into my life.
See also A Katonah Yoga Sequence To Live A More Abundant Life
There were three critical things that shifted the tide for me, and I know they can help any teacher looking to give themselves a raise.
1. Realize that spirituality means abundance
When you go into class and speak the word “abundance,” can you honestly say that you are feeling it in all areas of your life? Chaining yourself to the idea that being spiritual means financially struggling can disrupt the abundance that is waiting for you. When you accept that financial abundance and spirituality can have a thriving working relationship, it will reflect in your spirit—and your bank account! Take it from visionary Maya Angelou, who said, “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive”.
See also The Yoga of Money: Take Wisdom from the Mat to Your Finances
2. Get crystal clear on your teaching intention
For some people, teaching a full load of 15 classes a week can strain your health and your capacity to serve. As in any other business, it can take time to build a network and establish a presence in the yoga space. Figure out a teaching strategy that will fulfill you and help maintain your sanity—not detract from it. Do you see yourself teaching full time? Does having a full-time job while teaching two to three classes sound fulfilling? Get clear on what is right for YOU. The way I figured this out was by getting support from a business coach and community I trusted so that I could navigate how to market myself and speak effectively about my services.
See also Live + Practice From the Heart: Identify True Intention
3. Seek great mentorship
One of the most pivotal steps you can take to open to financial abundance is to seek guidance from other successful yogis. Learning from others who gained wisdom and experience from walking a path before me allowed me to understand the paths available to me. Just like your daily local teacher, learning from someone who knows the ropes is so much easier than trying to figure it out yourself. I also sought guidance from business mentors and like minded women who were committed to living on purpose that could teach me how to offer my gifts, live my purpose, and get the structure I needed to financially sustain myself. Look for local clubs, meetups, and other networking opportunities in which you’ll be able to make valuable connections in the community.
See also A Yoga Teacher’s Guide to Social Networking
Just like yoga, stretching your financial container can cause some discomfort. Just like the journey of yoga, the path to feeling ease and grace with our money values starts from within. With a clear vision and the right tools and support, knowing and claiming your worth as a yoga teacher is totally possible!
YJ Tried It: I Survived a 10-Day Silent Vipassana Meditation Retreat
What happens when a seasoned yoga teacher and meditation practitioner goes on a 10-day silent vipassana meditation retreat? Lauren Eckstrom reports.
I’ve been meditating for a long time, but as I arrived in North Fork, California, just outside of Yosemite National Park, for my first 10-day vipassana retreat, I was terrified.
What have I gotten myself into? I wondered as I drove down the dirt path to the California Vipassana Meditation Center. What if we get dragged into another world war and no one can reach me?
My nerves were running high. I was about to spend a whopping 10 hours and 45 minutes a day in seated meditation in complete silence—no phone, computer, journal, books, exercise, yoga, or speaking.
Not talking seemed like it was going to be easy. As a yoga and meditation teacher, I spend all day every day using my voice. Silence felt like a welcome reprieve. But no journaling, reading, or yoga? That felt downright cruel.
See also Learn to Meditate
As I unpacked my bags and the many meditation cushions and props I had indulgently dragged with me, I was aware that despite my years of yoga practice, the most challenging part of this retreat was likely going to be the physical discomfort that would arise from all those hours of sitting. I walked to the small pond on the women’s side of the center—men and women are separated during the retreat—and took a seat near a small stream. I could hear frogs ribbit as a beautiful dragonfly buzzed near me. Nature was telling me it would be OK. I began to settle in.
That evening, as 50 women entered the meditation hall, I gazed around at the people I would be sitting with in silence for the next 10 days. Eye contact is not allowed once you start the retreat, so this was my only chance to get a good look at my fellow meditators before we began.
See also Find Your Meditation Style With These 7 Practices
The next morning, the wake up bell rang at 4 a.m. I slipped into my coziest sweatpants and stumbled in the dark toward the meditation hall. As the morning practice began, I started to feel anxious. My body temperature rose, and small beads of sweat began to pour down my face. I slipped my sweater off. When the heat continued, I tied my hair back. As my anxiety lifted to a peak, I opened my eyes and fainted headfirst into the meditation cushion of the woman perched in front of me. I have no idea how long I was out. I opened my eyes, sat back up, took a breath, and felt like I had left my body. This vipassana retreat was starting out with a bang.
Though it’s called a “silent retreat,” it felt noisier than playing the radio at full volume—not because there was talking, but because the voice inside my head incessantly narrated everything. I listened to my breath move in and out. I listened to coughing, sniffling, throat-clearing, and a bevy of other bodily noises come and go. I was mindful of my judgments, fears, and physical pains rising and falling away again and again. It was tedious. It felt like work.
See also Daily Meditation Made Easy
Then, on day three, something magical happened: My body—and mind—became still. While my physical discomfort from all of the sitting was still there, it stopped defining my moment-to-moment experience, and my mental hall monitor faded away.
This retreat woke me up in ways my yoga practice and training never have. I awakened to a voice inside my head that was self-critical and painful to listen to, and I loved that part of myself into healing. I heard the loving voices of my teachers whispering, “May this serve to open your heart; This too is practice; You can do hard things; This too will change; Nothing goes away until it teaches you what you need to learn.” And I kept sitting, ultimately having the incredible experience of the pain not being “mine” anymore. Sure, I felt it in my body, but I learned to un-identify with the pain. I fell into a space of trust that I was OK; that the pain could be there, and I could be separate from it.
In navigating the restlessness, fear, self-criticism, and pain I experienced on this retreat, I awakened to the true meaning of yoga and a profound new depth of presence, love, and acceptance that will stay with me forever.
See also The Big Brain Benefits of Meditation
Silent Vipassana Meditation At A Glance
WHERE YOU CAN TRY IT
Vipassana meditation is commonly taught during 10-day, silent retreats with instruction on mindfulness and alternating periods of sitting and walking meditation.
FOR MORE ON THE HISTORY OF VIPASSANA
3 U.S. RETREAT CENTERS TO CONSIDER
Insight Meditation Society
Shambhala Mountain Center
Red Feather Lakes, Colorado
About our author
Lauren Eckstrom is a yoga and meditation teacher in Los Angeles and co-author of the book Holistic Yoga Flow: The Path of Practice. She leads Holistic Yoga Flow workshops, retreats, and teacher trainings, with her husband, yoga teacher Travis Eliot, with whom she co-created Yoga 30 for 30—a 30-day online yoga program of half-hour daily practices. Learn more at laureneckstrom.com.
A 5-Minute Meditation to Release Anxiety
Detach from anxiety and come back to the present.
Rina Deshpande shares her quick 5-minute meditation to release anxiety and let go of attachments.
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Yoga Helped Me Face My Fears About Marriage Once and For All
I went to Mexico to rejuvenate, detox, and practice yoga with my boyfriend. Turns out, it would also be where I faced my fears about marriage.
It was a humid sunrise on a quiet, sandy beach in Tulum, Mexico. Despite our previous late-night mezcal tasting beneath the jungle leaves, my longtime boyfriend, Anush, had dragged me out of our tiny thatched-roof cabana at first light.
I adjusted my Beyoncé t-shirt and gray cotton shorts I’d worn to bed as I scanned the horizon. When I turned back to Anush, he was kneeling in the sand, holding a typed love letter and a tourmaline engagement ring.
“Will you marry me?” He asked.
I was so incredulous, I couldn’t speak. Feelings of doubt and darkness coursed through me, even though I’d always imagined a future with him: He was the one person who made me feel seen and cared for and uplifted. Still, I was reluctant to commit.
My parents went through a dramatic and corrosive divorce when I was 13, but the fallout had lasted long after. Most of the great pain in my life has come from marriage—and its ending. Marriage is the thing that has made me most likely to run, and least likely to trust
See also This Guided Meditation Will Inspire You to Live From Your Heart
As I stared at the man I love, these past traumas lit my body from head to toe with alarm bells. How could I marry anyone? But, as I looked at him, I calmed myself down. I silently told myself something I had learned in my yoga and mindfulness practice: Be here now. With that mantra, I slowly came back to the moment. With that mantra, I reminded myself where I was, who I was with—and most importantly, who I am now.
He waited patiently. I started to cry. Finally, I said, “Yes! Yes. Yes. Of course, yes.” He put the ring on my finger, and he held me while I cried. In that moment of “yes,” my world expanded.
We drank champagne and ate fruit in front of the ocean while the Tulum sun rose, pink and hot on our skin. I could hardly believe my good fortune—engaged in Tulum at sunrise. In that moment, instead of fear, I chose gratitude.
I saw a beachfront yoga class almost immediately after—Tulum, thankfully is crawling with them—and I asked my fiance(!), if he’d like to take it together. I was still shaking from the metamorphic decision I had made: unwavering commitment in the face of fear. I hoped familiar asana would steady me. Internally, I repeated my mantra as we walked into a large triangular wood pavilion, perched on a hidden natural cliff in the jungle, overlooking the beach as if it had been there forever.
See also 17 Poses to Prep for Mindful Meditation
Our yoga teacher, a young woman from Mexico City with a sing-song voice, instructed us to let go of our fears, to open our hearts, to experience the beauty of the moment we were in.
I was exactly where I needed to be. I still had my dark corners—I may always—but I could learn to live with them and still claim the life I wanted and deserve. I could live in the present and not in the past. I could be here now, soaking in the jungle, the ocean, in a magnificent place where afterward we would eat fresh coconut and bike carefree down the beach road and hike up Mayan ruins and speak a little Spanish and accept a glorious chocolate mole cake that said “Felicidades.”
As I looked over at the joyful, patient man doing yoga next to me, the waves crashed out ahead. I took his hand for just an instant, and he smiled. And then we raised our arms together, side-by-side, to salute the sun.
See also 7 Simple Ways to Call in More Joy—and Feel Less Stressed
About our author
Gina Tomaine is a yoga teacher and magazine editor in Philadelphia. Her work has been published in Prevention, Women’s Health, Runner’s World, and other publications. Learn more at gina-tomaine.com.
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