As the number of people who practice yoga continues to grow, we see this amazing philosophy and way of life expanding in all sorts of directions. The ongoing rise of yoga is opening up a plethora of ways to follow a yogic path or pursue professional yoga opportunities outside the yoga studio.
We are fortunate to have an abundance of yoga studios gracing communities around the world. Yoga studios provide reliable, safe, and stable environments that are great for learning, sharing knowledge, and community support. On the flip side, yoga studios are controlled environments and after a while, we can literally find ourselves becoming stuck inside the yoga “box”. It is normal for everyone to fall into patterns every now and then. We can get “out of the box” and break out of our comfort zones by embracing yoga practices such as formlessness and nonlinear thinking.
Sometimes it’s nice to ditch the mat, get back to the basics, and practice and teach yoga in the natural elements or somewhere alone. Nature and personal practice is powerful! The original yogis certainly did not practice inside pristine studios with the yoga mats of today. Nothing in nature is exactly straight or symmetrical, yet everything natural is perfect as it is. Not only does being in nature nourish the soul, physically practicing on uneven surfaces helps strengthen our secondary stabilizing muscles and brings new challenges and capabilities to our bodies.
Start thinking outside the yoga studio...
And remember it’s all about balance. Don’t completely eliminate going to the studio to practice, just don’t let it take over. Let your local yoga studio be a grounding rocket launch pad from which you can spread your wings and fly! Love your yoga studio and local community, but realize that the best teacher is the one singing and dancing in your own heart. Start sharing your yoga through different channels. If you teach, think about bringing the teachings to schools, sports organizations, non-profits, or neighborhood parks and beaches. You can also deepen your practice and make a career with yoga by starting a blog, a yoga café, designing art, writing yoga inspired music, or creating a yoga related website.
Internationally, “sustainable living yoga centers” seem to be sprouting up all over. Open yourself up to become involved with these amazing communities. Many of them offer volunteer opportunities that can lead to personal growth or possibly even life-changing experiences. There are places out there that offer exchanges such as receiving free yoga classes and living space for help working on an organic farm, or if you teach yoga, you can connect to a center that will provide you with food and lodging in exchange for teaching yoga classes. Traveling and immersing into other cultures is wonderful for self-study. It’s also a great way to keep a beginner’s mind, make life long friends and connections, and to enliven the sprit. The opportunities on this planet are truly infinite!
Dive into selfless service. Much of yoga tends to be about going inside and focusing within. Let’s not only get out of the studio, let’s also get out of the self, and put some focus and attention on the livelihood of others. What kinds of opportunities and services can you offer the yoga community?
May that beauty that you love, be what you do. If you follow what you love, good things will follow. Love life, and life will love you back!
Erica Hartnick enjoys all things wild and free. She teaches nature inspired yoga and leads outdoor mindful adventures in California and Costa Rica. She is the founder of Yoga Trade www.yogatrade.com, a new and empowering online network for the yoga community that globally connects instructors, students, and organizations. Yoga Trade enables members to post and search for yoga jobs, work exchange gigs, and volunteer travel opportunities worldwide. Connect with her via email, website, Instagram and Facebook!