Yoga “Stuff Happens”
When I first started teaching yoga, I kept perfect records of who was coming to my classes. This is an important task that keeps track of the attendance and income. After all, owning a yoga studio or being a yoga teacher involves running a business just like anyone else except we get to do Pretzel legs every day.
What I needed to learn with book keeping was a sweet lesson in Aparigraha (non-attachment.)
My Excel spreadsheets, in and of themselves, were not wrong. However, my attachment to them was a little off. I found myself obsessing about who was attending or not attending my yoga classes. First I’d study the list and then I would send out a personal e mail asking the client why they were not coming to class anymore.
This e-mailing technique came from a good place in my heart (I promise) while it also served as a good marketing tool and a way to monitor my business. (I have a Marketing background.) I am glad to report that most of the reasons clients did not return to class were due to schedule conflicts such as long commutes or other logistical problems. No one ever said, “Your classes suck and I don’t want to take them anymore.” So why did I have the need to follow up with every client? Why did I spend time making additional spreadsheet lists of people who no longer came to class?
Teachers can get attached to their yoga students. We claim that we are just the indirect guides helping the vessels along, but sometimes we want to control the course of each person’s yoga journey. In our heads, we want to know, “Why didn’t you come back to class? Are you still taking yoga? Was it something I said or did or did not do?” It starts to verge on sounding like an insecure break-up with a boyfriend or girlfriend. You can’t seem to let go until you know the reasons..
I do encourage my clients to take other yoga classes because I truly believe it is important to do this for improvement in one’s yoga practice. However, telling your yoga students to take other classes is like telling someone you’re dating that it’s OK to see other people; you know it might be healthy and open minded but you fear the loss of the way things were. And that is when we must be careful not to let the Non-Aparigraha Monster sneak in and make us get too possessive of our clients. (Admit it: We all have that small, selfish place in the yucky, inner parts of our souls that wants to cling.)
As yoga teachers, we are here to present and to share the immeasurable gift of yoga; not the gift of a beautifully prepared Excel spreadsheet with perfect attendance.
What about you? How do you handle letting go of yoga clients/students? How do you feel about it when it happens? Do you have any examples to share?