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October 15th, 2013

Going There

By Manduka Ambassador Caleb Asch

I’ve been privileged to be teaching yoga since 1995. I do it because I love it. I love almost everything about it; everything except the numbers. Let’s face it, the numbers game is the bottom line for a yoga studio. If you don’t have the numbers then they get someone who can.

The student base determines a studio’s life. So how do you face your numbers and yet maintain your focus on what you’re teaching? I’ve been engaged in this paradox for a long time. I’ve seen what I thought to be really good teachers have really bad numbers, and give it up. I mean, at a certain point you have to self assess and look out into the world to see if what you’re doing (or being) has value for people. One way to determine that is to look to see who and how many are in your classes. Are the numbers growing? Is the feedback you’re getting positive? What adjustments could you make? All of these criteria are important but what do they mean?

I have wrestled with this for almost 20 years, and the truth for me wasn’t the truth at all! For me, the fewer people I had in my room meant the more I sucked at being a teacher. It didn’t matter that my feedback was brilliant and wonderful. I would get lavish praise, smile and say thank you while thinking; “if you REALLY liked my class then why don’t you come more often and even bring your friends.” The truth for me was that I sucked as a teacher, “I don’t deserve to have a following and I should just give up (what’s become my life’s work) and go back to post-production”.

Finally, during a conversation with an old friend, (who goes way back with me to the earlier days of the “EST” consciousness movements) who asked me; “Let me get this straight; who you are as a teacher, with all these 20 years of experience, is TOTALLY dependent on the number of people in your room?”

At this point we both burst into laughter because my answer was a resounding “YES! That is EXACTLY what I’m saying!”

Finally it was funny. Finally, I could see how I had made it all up in my head. I had made up a belief that some outside, physical result determines who I am. That, if I had a certain amount of people show up then I am a winner, if not then I am a loser! They say that awareness is, in itself, curative, and in this case, hilarious. I could finally see and laugh at the corner I had painted myself into.

Since that conversation I have observed in myself an un-attachment to my numbers, and therefore freedom from them. Gone is the stress of measuring up. Gone is the anxiety of new schedules! Gone is the anger and frustration of helpless victimhood to the numbers! Gone is the desperate struggle to control what I have absolutely no control over.

What remains is my love for the work. What remains is the confidence I have in what I do and, and for the first time, the way that I do it! I am back to being in love with what I do, how I do it, and the people who come to share in that with me.

Oh yeah, and my numbers are thriving…

2 Response(s) to Going There

On October 18th, 2013 at 6:27 pm, nicey berkenfeld said:

ideally, numbers should not matter. problem is when your salary is based on the number of students. all of a sudden, the numbers matter

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