Archives for November 2015

Get Rich Quick: Top10 Habits of “Rich” Yogis

rich yogi

You’ve heard the phrase “the rich get richer.”  The “poor get poorer” follow-up is so understood, it’s rarely spoken. While the phrase may or may not be true in the material world, I am here to tell you, it’s absolutely true in the world of wellness and yoga. The people that consistently show up for yoga once-a-week or more enjoy the lion’s share of the benefits.  They seem to move gracefully and mindfully through the poses, are unafraid of new challenges and have an overall sense of ease, both on and off the mat.  They rarely miss class (don’t they have anything better to do?).  To the casual, sporadic yogi trying to make peace with a body full of tension and integrate a scattered mind, it hardly seems fair!

So how do the rich get so rich—in yoga?  It’s simple: They show up.   Friends in from out of town? They bring the friends along.  Deadlines? Instead of managing the stress Facebooking on the sly or grabbing a candy bar, they come to class. Wealthy yogis don’t make routine doctor appointments during yoga class. They don’t volunteer to help out a friend during yoga class; besides, their real friends all know they have yoga during that time and wouldn’t dream of imposing!

Over time, the “rich” yogis build momentum. You’re familiar with the time value of money; well, there’s a time value of yoga. Your principle re-invests and keeps paying larger dividends.  That said, you know if you miss a week or two and don’t make it up somehow, it’s like an early IRA withdrawal and your earlier contributions are penalized. Savvy yoga investors  don’t get sick as much, so  they don’t miss class because they’re sick.  They don’t get injured as much so they don’t miss class due to tears, pulls, sprains.  In fact, they don’t miss LIFE as much.  The “poor” yogis go in fits and starts, missing class due to illness, injury, doctor and PT appointments, and yes, even hair appointments (newsflash: your hair is dead!).  Once they miss a few weeks, they disappear.  And the rich get richer…

Notice there was no mention as to the abilities of the “rich” yogis.  Some are naturally flexible, most are not. Some are athletes, many are not. Some of the “richest” students have major issues—issues that could make for some handy excuses : 45-degree scoliosis curvature, cancer, vertigo, bursitis, sleep apnea, panic attacks, heart issues, artificial knee/hip, pushin’ 90, caregiver of small children/spouse/animal, saving the world, looking for a job, losing a job, running a company, rescuing dogs, early onset Alzheimer’s  (good news: the muscles remember what the mind forgets IF you have strong practice).  Yet, somehow, these captains of commitment SHOW UP! I marvel and rejoice when I see them walk through the door, week after week, year after year.  We’re family—the best kind—the supportive kind!

So how can you be a “Rich” yogi? It’s not simple, but I’ve seen people elevate up from the yoga ghetto to solid middle class and even on to “mat mogul.”  😉 You won’t have to change your body, but you’ll have to change your mind to implement  the Top-10 Habits of RICH yogis: 

  • They “advertise” their yoga commitment to friends and family and thereby reduce the chance someone will attempt to impose on that time.
  • They make-up missed classes/ weeks by going to an extra class.
  • They often shoot for twice per week, so if they absolutely have to miss, they’ll at least have gotten to one class.
  • They don’t schedule appointments during class—not for anyone, be it the “best” brain surgeon or best hair stylist.
  • They simply say they have an “appointment” with a serious tone if they feel the other party won’t understand the gravity of their commitment.
  • They have learned to disappoint others some of the time so they don’t have to constantly disappoint themselves.
  • They come to class even if they don’t feel 100%–sniffles, tired, sprained something—we’ll put you on an island and work around it.
  • They do yoga when they travel, either on their own, or they find a class – it’s great way to meet people!
  • They often make friends in class or invite their friends to join their class; this adds a social dimension as well as accountability.
  • They don’t arbitrarily “take a break” and miss a session because they’re going to be “busier”—that means you need more yoga, not less!

It’s  a simple allocation-of-resources issue: where you put the resources for those 2 hrs a week– that’s what grows.  If you put them into grooming, you’ll look great, but you won’t have the benefits of yoga. If you put them into socializing, you’ll have even more invitations that get in the way of your yoga class, but you won’t have the benefits of yoga. If you put them in to working late, your boss will have even higher expectations for your working late in the future.  If you put them into helping others, you’ll have even more pleas for help and feel even more overwhelmed. If you put them into your kids, your kids will have no model for self-care and an inflated sense of importance—there’s a reason why, in a plane crash, parents are instructed to put their own oxygen masks on FIRST!

Finally, don’t think you need to miss your weekly yoga class once in a while to keep “balance” in your life—your weekly class IS THE BALANCE.  It’s the anecdote to all the physical and mental negativity in our lives.  Miss it and all that negativity just accumulates. You wouldn’t want your trash collector to come every other week or once per month.  Be as conscientious with your health as you are with your trash! Plan for your wellness as well as you plan for your finances—all that money won’t matter without your health, mobility and quality of life.

PS. If you’re wondering about the bear, it came up when I googled “rich yogi” so I went with it! That’s Yogi Bear and is buddy Boo Boo, not to be confused with Honey Boo Boo.

Yoga Teacher Training: Buyer Beware (and do The Math!)

CorePower Teacher Training Pyramid Scheme

UPDATE MAY 2019:  I wrote this post several years ago as I was noticing an influx of newly minted teachers from “big yoga” flooding the market.  I had heard stories of teachers at CorePower and elsewhere encouraging young, (mostly) women to become yoga teachers who had little to no experience and had only done yoga in one studio in one style.  I knew it was a money grab:  RENT!  Rent is such a huge issue for yoga studios trying to stay afloat.  They pump money into high traffic locations decor: hardwood floors, fountains, mirrors, sound systems, online booking etc. and guess what?  There’s nothing left to pay qualified teachers.  So what do you do? You start your own teacher training program, priced HIGHER(!?) than training in India or an established residential training program like Kripalu in Massachusetts. This creates loads of revenue during the down-hours of the studio; plus it encourages a steady supply of cheap (and we know now) exploitable labor.  Morever many young people were being encourage to TAKE ON DEBT for the trainings, often to the tune of $3-5K.  Nevermind they were already unemployed or under-employed.  Yet, NEVER did I imagine the level of sinister greed rampant at CorePower.  The New York Times article even featured a MINNESOTA location!  COREPOWER ARTICLE HERE. 

In retrospect, I  should’ve known the teachers were being “coached” on how to sell the trainings as I kept hearing the same refrain, “I wasn’t sure I wanted to teach. I just wanted to ‘deepen my own practice.'”  Please! I can give you lots of ideas on how to deepen your practice on $3-5K! Buy and around-the-world airfare and contact me!

Finally, as my classes tend to range in age from about 40-80, I consider the young people who show up and stick ith it exceptional.  They’re out looking for something deeper and they know they won’t find it in the mirror. To us, they are treasures and we feel an inclination to help them, take care of them and embrace them.  I offer a reduced rate for my millenials/Gen Z’s living at home/unemployed and “college kids” (some are pushing 40, working on PHd’s!).  They add so much to our community. The fact that CorePower and other Big Yoga studios (even corner shops with aggressive training programs) exploited young people as part of the business model is deeply disgusting and makes my heart hurt.


About once a week, I get an inquiry from someone looking for a yoga teacher training program or, a recent grad looking for a job or mentoring opportunities. It’s easy to see why people want to teach yoga and do what they love.  However, from where I stand, there seem to be some troubling  (maybe slightly sinister)  market forces at work out there concocting a glut of young, under-prepared, overly in-debt teachers.

For the record:  I don’t have a downward-facing dog in this fight.  I don’ t do teacher trainings and don’t aspire to in the near future.  I have been teaching yoga for just 17 years–not long enough.    The people I trained with had decades (not combined, but individually) of intensive teaching experience, often in residence, in ashrams.    To be clear, the notion that you can somehow teach an all-encompassing practice like yoga shy of middle age is a Western one.  Back when I trained in 2001, there were a limited number of established schools  ( lineage back to India) in the Yoga Alliance.  They were supposed to “protect” the legitimacy of the certification by careful vetting of training programs. Somewhere along the way, a “growth” strategy took over and qualifications like residential training went away.  With that, so did my annual dues, as I couldn’t figure out what they were providing for me as a teacher. That little badge you see up above, in my view has lost its meaning. It doesn’t distinguish whether you did your training online, with a famous Swami, a yoga thought-leader or “Jenny from the Block. ”

So why the boom in Teacher Training programs? I see three main market forces at work:

1) They’re lucrative and provide the lion’s share of revenue for bricks and mortar yoga studios to pay the rent.  Starting at $2000-2500 for a 200 hour basic program, you multiply that by 15-20 students participating and you can make a good chunk of change.  Moreover, you can wedge in the teacher trainings at off-hours on weekends when the studio isn’t being optimized, say on Saturday evenings or Sunday afternoons.  Better yet, offer an on-line component so you don’t even need to provide space.  Really? On-line teacher training?  Would you like a  massage therapist or a doctor trained on-line?   But, all the schools are doing it!    Why?  (see number 3).

2) They create a perpetual pool of low-cost employees for the studio. Each session graduates newly-minted teachers eager to work for peanuts to gain experience.  Of course, the studio can’t possibly hire all of their graduates now, can they?   Those who don’t get jobs will have to hit the pavement and look for jobs at other studios, but of course, those other studios have their own graduates to hire. Smaller  indie studios with a discriminating clientele want teachers with loads of experience who’ve mentored under big names.  Then the options narrow to places like LifeTime, Snap Fitness and the like, who are always hiring, due to a huge turnover rate.  Why the turnover? Because teaching yoga for $25 / hour is only gratifying for so long, especially when you’re trying to recoup your $2000+ investment.  Think about it, at that rate, you have to teach 80- 100 classes just to break even on your investment!!!  If they hire you for 2 classes a week, that’s almost a year of your life teaching for FREE! Besides, you have student loans to pay….which leads to my Grand Finale Point:

3) Student Loans, including PELL Grants can be used for Yoga Teacher Training.  Ah haaa!  Now we see the real reason for the boom in yoga teacher training programs, and the accompanying college-like  tuition inflation.    It used to be you could go live in residence at an ashram or a yoga center with a full campus , room and board included for what these strip mall studios are charging for their teacher trainings. Moreover, the demand is such that they can pluck their “lead trainers” from their own in-house schools after they’ve only been teaching themselves for a few years and no one questions it. So, instead of “going to the mountain,” and training in an immersion environment with a cast of experienced teachers from a reputable school of lineage (back to India) as well as teaching assistants, chefs, anatomy professors, etc., you go down the street and train w/ people w/ names like “Nina B.” or ‘Tommy Y.”  who themselves have only taught yoga for maybe a few years.  Oh, and you don’t actually immerse yourself and live like a yogi  because you can’t really afford to quit your day job given the exorbitant cost of the program!  Kids ~ this is NOT a good deal!

So what is a sincere, aspiring yoga teacher to do?  Stop. Breathe. Discern.  I don’t want to say that you must put your life on-hold and take an immersion program, but it is the gold standard.  That said, what I do feel strongly about is this: don’t pay Ivy League Prices for a Community College program because you couldn’t spot the difference!  If you have to study piecemeal or even online, then just don’t pay what you’d pay to go live somewhere; and, keep your expectations in line.  If you need to teach yoga to pay your bills, then choose carefully and consider programs where you have not one,  but several teachers with decades of experience at your disposal.  Frankly, I can’t imagine the egotistical leap necessary for a sole individual of a tender age to claim to be able to teach you everything you need to know about being a teacher.

I’ve included some links to some reputable programs which have withstood the test of time; they also have a lineage to somewhere other than the mall or Los Angeles!  Some of them even offer SCHOLARSHIPS (i.e. Kripalu).  In the meantime, keep up your own practice, study w/ as many teachers of as many styles as you can to narrow it down, save your money and please, don’t go into debt and end up paying even more (with interest) for a sub-standard “canned” program. They will only turn you into a cue-reciting parrot, not a yoga teacher! 


Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health — Scholarships available!

Integral Yoga San Francisco 

Minneapolis Yoga Workshop


parrot yoga