Here I am, in an awkward, uncomfortable position. My first book is coming out and I know I have to get the word out ... but I am totally conflicted.
This shouldn't be hard for me, a former ratings-driven broadcast newscaster who spent nearly 20 years in front of the camera, on billboards and on buses. This shouldn't be anything new to me, a former corporate consultant in media relations and marketing, who hit goal after goal for her clients to get them publicity and new customers.
But this is indeed quite hard and new, because it's yoga. And I hesitate for the following reasons:
- Yoga is not about external validation
- I am not of the "selfie" generation, so I feel internal friction
- My family culture supports quiet, steady hard work over self-promotion
You might have hoped this post would help you amp up Instagram likes or Twitter followers. But sorry, it's not that. Instead it's an exploration of how we can practice making peace with the social media sphere, that is seemingly required to help us make a living teaching yoga.
Is it possible to maintain sthira-sukham (steadiness and ease) when teaching proper alignment and pranayama, while still posting on Facebook over and over again to get people to come to your workshop? Is it possible to access more moments of sattva (purity) for myself throughout this whole process?
One of my good friends is an incredible, experienced teacher, and he refuses to have a website or post yoga selfies. Another good friend, an inspirational, popular instructor, posts everything, everywhere, all the time. So what is the right balance?
These five tips on promoting your yoga business are not necessarily designed to tell you how to get more followers. Instead, if you're experiencing internal conflict about really putting yourself out there, they just might help you follow your own path.
1. Get real.
Acknowledge that if you make your living as a yoga teacher, self-promotion is a reality. The fact is that information is so crucial and is accessible on a grander scale thanks to conveniences like social media. If students are not aware of your regular class or upcoming workshop, how can they know to come?
2. Get educated.
Observe how other yogis engage themselves in self-promotion, and then discern which tactics feel authentic to you. But instead of trying to copycat, consider taking some actions that might make you slightly uncomfortable, so you learn and grow. That's when you'll realize that it's not worth comparing yourself to others and really start to find your way.
3. Get over it.
Don't judge. Everyone's comfort level with self-promotion is different. Some believe this a gray area in yoga, but promotion is needed for all kinds of businesses to survive. Not to mention, yoga is more than a $27 billion industry — so what have you got to lose?
4. Get help.
If you have a yogi friend you admire for his or her outreach, then ask that person for advice and tailor those ideas to suit you. Also, there are infinite sources on the web for learning how to effectively use hashtags and other ways to optimize social media. Explore and then gather the pieces that you think can help you, and create your own promotional practice.
5. Get some rest.
At the end of the day, self-promotion cannot wear you out to the point you have little energy to teach. Rest your mind, heart (and keyboard-weary hands) so that what you're promoting stays true to you and also to the true meaning of yoga.
This is an ongoing process and practice for all of us, and along the way we will do plenty of exploring and healing of our old patterns. This is all a part of an ongoing reconciliation with our true authentic self.
Throughout this book journey I've realized something: the process of being uncomfortable is yoga.
As I often explain to my students, whenever we experience anything new and uncomfortable that challenges our feelings of protection and habit, we learn something real about ourselves. That's how we transform. I am constantly reminding myself of that too, even as I try to live a quieter life.
My final piece of advice: anytime you post a picture or compose a tweet, honor the discipline of svadhyaya (self-study). Pause for a moment of awareness. What are you doing? What are you saying? Observe yourself. What do you discover?
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