“I do think we have been successful in getting a message of yoga without compromise out there. We have a team at Yoga Dharma who share our mission and commitment to teach yoga and not a gimmick”
When Fran and I first thought about why we wanted to create a yoga school in Southend we had a very clear agenda. We wanted to bring yoga to Southend without compromising our personal ethics and standards, and bring together a community of like-minded people.
It is ten years since we started this journey and our plans and forecasts were all set up to that ten-year deadline. So now it’s time to reassess and plan for the next incarnation of Yoga Dharma, truthfully this process started a year ago, but we took time this weekend to think about our original reasons and see if we had compromised ourselves and our yoga along the way.
We made a list of what was important to us ten years ago, and tried to be as honest as we could with ourselves. Top of that list was to raise the standards of teaching and the standards of conduct within the local yoga community. We found some of the practices locally corrupt and dishonest, and indeed we did leave the area for around five years to separate ourselves form what we found disturbing back then. Top of our list was applying the yamas and niyamas as authentically as we could. One of our main goals was to promote the necessity of giving up the consuming animals if you were teaching or practicing yoga. Actually we have had a lot of success with this, most of our students give up meat, and we only employ vegans and vegetarians at Yoga Dharma.
Our other big issue was with integrity and ethical conduct, as I said earlier we did at one point leave because of what was happing locally. I’m not sure if we have made an impact or not, and we have been on the end of misinformation a few times. Our tactic is to lead by example, and we try to achieve this across a range of issues. For me the most important is treating all our students the same, male or female, I have seen one community fall apart because the teacher could not maintain a professional position with his students. For Fran its taking on students regardless of their reason for practicing. She would like to vet potential students before they join, signing an agreement beforehand. This agreement would clearly explain our expectations, but more importantly we would set out what we provide and our commitment to new and existing students.
When we started this venture we were unique in lots of ways, and part of this exercise is to reaffirm our uniqueness in quality and commitment. We believe yoga is in danger of being lost to marketing and business opportunities by way of a new and improved yoga. This is evidenced when you see franchises for the next “new” yoga which is better than the last. It’s the same tactics that is employed by TV advertising and the like, it is targeting our primal brain. We need to be aware at all times otherwise we will all be consumed.
As far as I am aware we are still the only venue in Southend that teaches yoga without gimmicks. Putting a heater in a yoga studio and calling it hot yoga is an example.
Actually I do think we have been successful in getting message of yoga without compromise out there, after a few false starts we now have a team here now at Yoga Dharma who share our mission and commitment to teach yoga, and not a gimmick. They are a wonderful group to be involved with, and we are supremely fortunate in this. We have the most amazing students who are loyal and honest, and it is a pleasure to teach them.
There is more I wanted to say but this will have to wait for another time.
Have a lovely day.