I quit! And, you’re fired!

Have you ever left a studio?

Of course, schedules change or you need more time for yourself.

But, have you ever quit?

Sometimes we forget to look at the big picture when where excited about teaching each class.

I once taught at a local Ashtanga shala near my home. It was just a 15 walk away. How wonderful! But, the dynamics of the city changed. And, as the studio struggled to maintain students. I saw my paychecks shrink. Being paid per head is great when the room is full.  But, it was just a short walk down the street. The class time was convenient. I love teaching. What’s the problem?

I did the math.  The numbers revealed the ugly truth. The pay no longer covered the time and energy I spent getting there. I was clearing less than minimum wage, far less than the normal rate for a senior teacher. So, I left.

It’s not always about money though. I taught at another studio that paid a fair flat rate. I was really excited to be a part of the community. This studio was renown throughout the area, the world, and had a legacy. But the community wasn’t welcoming. The addition of a “power yoga” class was sneered at by existing teachers. Yes, air quotes were often used and not so subtle references to “trendy yoga” and “ridiculous poses”.  What I taught was different and many teachers in the space weren’t capable of the vigorous asana. So, they belittled what they were afraid of. It was pretty toxic. So, I left.


“We often say ‘yes’ with regrets.

But sometimes, we have to say no.

Sometimes, we have to walk away. “

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Have you ever fired a student?

I know, I know…it sounds like self-sabotage.  It’s really self-preservation.

I volunteered at the International Film Festival for years. There were several dedicated volunteers who had been with the festival for decades. When I was invited to join the seasonal staff, I used them as a valuable resource for best practices. Things would go well if things went their way. Too often, new volunteers found themselves iced out and discouraged from coming back.

One year, the operations director uninvited dozens of long time volunteers from the festival. It was scandalous. They were fired. And, we were better for it. The general atmosphere was more welcoming and friendly to everyone. A heavy weight was lifted from everyone’s shoulders.


Sometimes, students need to leave your class for their own benefit or for the benefit of your teaching. The student who stays in the beginner class because it’s safe or easy, needs to move on. The regular student who dominates your time and energy before, during and after class is interfering with your serving the other students.

We often say “yes” with regrets. But sometimes, we have to say no. Sometimes, we have to walk away.


Check out this interesting article from James Altucher about the realities of selling oneself…pay close attention to points B and I.

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Tran$parency

Every time a yoga manager tells me to keep any aspect of my pay a secret, I wonder…which side of that ugly wall of unfairness am I on?

I teach a few public classes at a handful of studios. I love seeing the progress of regular students over time and meeting new people.

A yoga studio is a great place to work.

Recently, I was given a raise (it does happen!) and immediately told not to tell anyone about it.

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In my non-yoga life, promotions and raises are celebrated. Being financially appreciated is something we all want and work hard to achieve. Yes, there’s a little flash of envy when someone else gets it but there’s also healthy competition.

The reality of our world is that, too often, men are given higher pay than women in the same job; whites are paid higher than non-whites for the same work. In yoga, the long term quality of teaching can earn less than the short term popularity of a teacher.

Bias, both conscious and unconscious, thrives in secrecy.

Have I kept my raise a secret? Reluctantly. The situation reminds me of a work experience I had when I was around 17 or 18 years old. I was working at a retail outlet store on Townsend Street (last time I drove by, Adobe took over the whole building). I was excited to be there, starting my independent life. There were experienced retail mavens and people just taking the j-o-b to pay the rent. Over lunch, a few of us started talking about bills and money. I quickly realised that everyone else was paid more than I was.  Not just a little more, 50-75% more. I asked my manager to meet. And, I asked why. I expected to hear that I was too new, too green or had to prove myself before being paid the same as others. She turned red and stuttered. The owner was in the office and turned red as well. They declared that it was “a mistake that would be corrected immediately”.

I believed them and never sued for discrimination. Ageism against the young used to be an issue. Today, ageism against anyone over 50, especially in yoga, is a growing problem.

Every time a yoga manager tells me to keep any aspect of my pay a secret, I wonder…which side of that ugly wall of unfairness am I on?

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This article in New York Magazine gives more insight into the benefits of salary transparency.