The Industry

Goofy in front of the camera at the photo shoot

"Are you in the industry?"  my husband asks, once he gets in conversation with someone who seems to know more about motion picture production than the average Julie.  It's said casually but as if motion picture production were the ONLY Industry that might possibly warrant the title THE Industry.  There's a certain coolness factor and badge of courage that go with being actually inside 'The Industry'.  If you're in, it says that you've spent long days and nights on your feet getting just the right shot, worked in snow storms, mud pits, underground caves, and the governor's mansion rubbing elbows with elite and brushing with fame in some way or another.  The Industry grants access to people, places, and events that normal people simply do not have.  And of course, 'normal people' desperately WANT that access.  It's interesting to watch from the outside.... I'm not sure I really want in.  But if it were offered I'm not sure I'd turn it down.

I recently had a photo shoot with some girlfriends.  Headshots and a few pose shots, done at our local studio, my husband behind the camera clicking away, and Pharrell's Happy blasting through the speakers.  (addicted to that song!)

It brought up all kinds of stuff for all of us.  None of us are SuperStar yogini's.  None of us will probably ever be SuperStar world traveling yoga teachers.  We all do want to help create health and vibrancy in the students who choose to come our way.  And I'm personally starting to recognize the importance of having an accurate and inviting image of myself to put out to the world if only to help me stay connected with students I adore.

But it's really gotten me thinking about the Yoga World.  I mean, there's a Yoga World,  isn't that kind of strange? In my circle, Yoga could just as easily be referred to as the Industry as film is for my husband. Kind of interesting.

Yoga sits in a very particular place in our culture.  It can be a meeting point three huge Industries: Fitness, Self-Help and Spirituality.  As a part of the fitness industry it hits on our body-image issues; can't yoga fix that? either make me thin or help me feel good about not being a supermodel?  As a part of the Self-Help industry it hits on any number of traits we'd like to fix or change... essentially we think yoga will make us better people somehow.  I don't know if I'd really call spirituality an industry, but with all the books and other media available I'm not sure I wouldn't call that either.  It has a huge draw.  Yoga can again be a link and hits on our deep desire, longing for connection to our Essence. Certain yoga classes or styles will lean in one direction more than another.  Some classes may even hit all three.

And, go on down the rabbit hole and you see yoga or yoga teachers connected to : nutrition and diet, fashion + accessories + fragrance + body care products, print media, social media, video + photography, the music industry + music festivals, tourism, and of course activism and outreach.  It feels inviting, alluring, and captivating.  There's even a chance that you too could become "famous" in the Yoga World.

But at the same time, it feels like a lot of pressure for a yoga teacher. I mean, how does one make sure to be eating all the right things, meditate all the time, practice incredible postures, stay spiritually plugged in, wear all the right clothes, keep the right body fat percentage (0%), take enough pictures in kick-butt poses and post to all social media,  tweet like mad,  go to festivals, lobby for the right causes, serve the under served and be quick and witty, knowledgeable and loving while blowing the yoga minds/bodies/hearts of the people in every single packed house studio?

My answer: you don't.  That is to say, I don't.  There's simply no way to try to take on all of that while also raising my family.  Not to mention, taking all of that on would be literally that - trying to put on a bunch of ill-fitting ideas about what a yoga teacher "should" be rather than exploring what being a yoga teacher really means to me authentically.

So instead my Yoga World is mostly on my mat rolled out in my back bedroom or on the garage floor.  It is hours of practice of many of the same poses I've done for years.  It is notes about sequences, themes and ideas that inspire me and hopefully inspire the students I see.  It's driving seven minutes to the studio where I work twice a week to see these super sweet people who come and sweat and smile and leave.  It's walking out my back door to my garage to offer a private lesson once a week and always leaving feeling better than when I'd walked in.  And it is being incredibly and repeatedly inspired by the folks I follow via social media - and then humbly reminding myself that in the grand scheme of life the larger Yoga World doesn't really mean all that much... I mean, if I say BKS Iyengar to my husband or my dad they will look at me like I just told them about an alien abduction.  What yoga-lebrities are doing doesn't have much of an impact on my day to day experience.  Not like what I do on my own mat does, not like what the students are doing on their mats and in their lives does.

It is this sweet local home Yoga World that I am way more interested in. This Yoga World of practice and patience is the real world to me.  And I'm glad to keep exploring it.

Elizabeth Fuqua