Is Yoga a Popularity Contest by Sarah Kearns

We all want to be seen by another, and by each other.  We seek validation in the thoughts and words of others because it is part of the human experience.  We are social beings who want to be loved.  When we don’t receive the validation we are looking for in one another, we look for it other ways: the right car, the right house, the right clothes, etc.

I am 100% responsible for all of these feelings and searching’s myself. Just because I am writing this blog, doesn’t make me exempt from any of this.  But I recently came to an acceptable understanding with myself that made me want to share. 

Ever since I moved to the Boston area, my intention was to become a well-known yoga teacher that people seek out to practice with and want to write articles about.  I completed my training in 2010 and started on this journey to yoga-fame.  Little did I know, that within 6 months of my completion to training, that basically every person I knew started quitting their “real jobs” to become a holistic wellness person or a damn yoga teacher.  All of a sudden, this field felt competitive, and like I had to move fast to get good classes, even if they weren’t ones that were aligned with what I believe yoga to be.

After teaching in the Boston area for a few years, I still felt a little bit like a nobody.  I always thought that being a yoga teacher would be so glamorous because there is a style of yoga for everyone, so whatever I had to offer, would appeal to enough people!  Oh to be so naïve…it’s true what they say: ignorance is bliss. 

It really came to light in so many ways to me, that being a yoga teacher in a city, especially as small as Boston, is like a straight-up popularity contest.  I was never a popular kid in school, and I never really wanted to be either, because those kids were always mean!  I like to do my own thing, and I like to teach yoga, that not only I feel comfortable teaching, but also yoga that comes from my heart.  This yoga I speak of doesn’t involve loud blaring music, and it doesn’t involve expensive yoga clothing.  It involves all five layers, or koshas of our human experience: physical, energetic, emotional, intellectual and spiritual.  And it just has to be enough, otherwise, what the hell am I doing with my life?  After what felt like a long road to learning this, I think I have finally found a space that I fit it in: smaller suburb studios.  Will this get me in a magazine or to be the next Lululemon ambassador?  Probably not.  Who cares?  I get to teach yoga to anyone who is open to receiving what I have to offer, and that is a gift. 

I am writing this mostly for the many teachers out in the world who experience anything similar to this.  I’m not tall, or skinny, and I don’t wear expensive yoga clothes to make me look sexy.  Because yoga isn’t about the external stuff: it’s exactly the opposite.  Yoga doesn’t care if you look good doing it; it just wants you to practice.  For those of you trying to win this hopeless popularity contest, ask yourself why.  If you win, what does that mean?  That people around you validate you?  Validate yourself, because you are enough, just as you are.  There is a slippery slope between seeing people as a role model who you admire, and trying to be just like that person.  Be you, whoever that is, meet yourself there, and let it be enough.  Don’t get down on yourself for falling into the popularity contest cycle either: it’s only human to want validation!  But I promise you, that validation through others, or nice clothes, or whatever external thing it may be, is only temporary.  You have the power to love yourself, empower yourself, and accept yourself, just as you are.  That’s when you’ll find happiness…from your yoga: within.