Let's Talk Money -- Owning Your Worth as a Yoga Teacher

One of the weirdest parts of being a yoga teacher is this idea that certain things are not for you because you must always embody the yogic lifestyle. Lets put aside that we are all human for a moment, and that we are all just doing the best that we can, and address the fact that other then things that should be off limits for all (morally reprehensible actions: ie murder), we can be yogic and pursue a variety of human activities. We are worthy of having our needs met, we are worthy of enjoying the meeting of wants! This brings me to one of the most influential, but awkward to address, needs: money.

Where did this damn idea come from that as a yoga teacher I should be above money? That I should teach for whatever I am offered, no matter what that is? I teach yoga for the love of yoga, for the want of leading people into and through the physical asanas for the benefit of mind, body, and spirit... but I also need to help put food on the table and care for my family. While I would love to move into a post-currency world, where bartering and giving are the norm, we aren't there and money is a necessity for obtaining all of our most basic needs: shelter, food, warmth.

Its only really in the past few years that I've embraced this idea of owning your worth. My time, my experience, my drive and passion, they are all valuable. And there is no shame in getting paid what you feel you should. In fact, I would argue that when I feel that my time is being valued appropriately, that it takes stress and burden off of my relationship with a class and I am able to give more freely to my students. As much as I would aim to never have money effect my class performance, returning time after time to a place where I felt I wasn't valued would absolutely start of build shreds of resentment.

In no other industry (minus perhaps as a server in the food industry - which is also horrid!) would one be expected to work for a wage that didn't support a livelihood, so why would that be an expectation in a field that is supposedly aiming to promote physical and mental emotional well-being? Do we value our teacher's well-being so low?

So, can we all take the shame out of negotiation now? For women especially, who are not generally taught this skill! Can we embrace the idea of knowing a very specific number that you need to feel valued and empowered, and not accept less then that? And can we resolutely put away the shame that money brings?

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