Tag Archives: yoga business

We are Salesmen

It’s a new day.  So I open e-mail even though I don’t want to because that’s what responsible people do. I’m being sold. I’m braced for the assault. Buy this, think this, try this, help this, read this. If I put this rant on my site I am selling. If I put it on social media, I am marketing. Anyone with a Facebook account is a salesman.

 

This export/import business of social media sucks a lot of time. That’s why I see some friends less unless I make the effort. Some are lost in the bazaar. They are exporting and importing, trading with friends and strangers from solitary seats. It’s a fluid life without scheduled time so these things tend to run all over the day and night. The nature of man is to ingest and eliminate and so maybe this is a natural extension but me, I have indigestion.

 

I worked for a couple of yoga studios after I left mine. The yoga scene had shifted to what would be known as modern yoga though that had happened about a hundred years ago.

 

I was told it was my responsibility to promote my classes on social media. The only reason I’d gone to a studio was to avoid self promotion. It didn’t work out. Though I am a gregarious hostess, I am more a recluse than a joiner when it comes to strangers. I am not comfortable with a disingenuous life. The act of reaching out to strangers through a black hole befuddles me. On the other hand, I have no problem presenting my work as a resume to the world. Websites seem a logical solution.

 

So What’s in a Name?

It was the late 1900’s and an entrepreneurial client had bought a website company for a hobby. He wanted to build a website and insisted it be mine and demanded I create a name for my company which was only me and gave me a computer to boot despite my protests. I didn’t give a crap about a name so I picked Active Yoga since I was teaching a physically powerful class and I figured it gave the right impression and of course it started with the letter A so that had to be a plus in the now defunct phone book. It seemed like a lame name but there were no other yoga sites as far as I knew. Yoga people didn’t have websites so it didn’t matter what I called it. Famous last clueless thoughts…

 

That website was a day-glow mess and now my “brand” was out on the new world wide net so I enlisted the young web designer husband of one of my ballerina students to give me a professional make-over. I wanted something that read like a book. He wanted flash and sizzle. We argued. I told him my students wouldn’t even know how to engage a technical site. He told me, “Your students are stupid!”

 

I told him I wanted it to be a resume of my experience. He told me, “No one gives a shit about content. You will be the only one who will ever read it!” I told him that was fine.

Active Yoga_Inverse 450

In 2000 I added the domain name Rebel Yoga since that had become the unofficial title the students had given me but it was unusable in the South considering the Civil War and all. It was later the moniker of a couple of excellent yoga saleswomen from the East and fourteen years later I dumped it for a grand.

 

Active Yoga went through one more incarnation a few years ago so I could manage it myself. I leave it there for posterity though I’m told to add content every week to drive traffic. Driving traffic is a passionless activity for me so I don’t bother. Where a website was once marketing, it is now dead as a tome filed in the tombs of the library’s basement if you don’t sell it regularly.

 

Now we use our names for titles because we are our own brand. It makes perfect sense and why didn’t I think of this sooner? Every yoga teacher certainly alters the yoga they learned as it’s alchemized by individual perception. Of course my yoga is Hilary Lindsay Yoga. Why had I wished to presume anonymity when I was posting a website? I should have just shouted my name but then in those days before we became voyeurs, people valued privacy. Now I am HilaryLindsayYoga.com but it comes up as Active Yoga because like my husband’s last name, it has become me.

 

Look at the biggest salesman of all, Donald Trump! He has his name on everything and if it has his name you have an impression of it whether it’s clothes or meat or a tower or a golf course.

Trump

Despite the image of Trump, sales are not a bad thing.  How else would we know what is out there?  I’ve been sold so many things that improve my life and I’m grateful.

 

On the other hand, social media imitates a third world open market with hawkers trying to get each others attention. Like you, I am often bored, suspicious and exhausted by it. Like you, I am lucky when a good salesman catches my eye and fortunate when I recognize a fraud. What we ingest we must digest. That’s what I have to say about shopping and buying. We are all in sales unless we can live solitary lives not dependent on others. We pick what we can assimilate. No need to apologize unless you think you are the one who can change the nature of our economy to something better but don’t try.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Yoga Home: A Fairy Tale

Untouched by time in the middle of the South lay a swathe of land called the Bible Belt and in the buckle of that belt, known to some as the heart center, was a province devoted to church and family and tradition.

H.Lindsay

Into that province came a stranger and she brought them yoga. It attracted a small group who became like an island in the sea of the province. One woman designated the back room of her modest home as a yoga studio and declared it The Yoga Center. Not long after and spitting distance away, another tiny home no bigger than a room became the property of her friends who called it The Yoga Room.

And a society was created to teach the others about yoga and the society declared that yoga was good. The people had differences and arguments despite the love of yoga but the society and the teaching of yoga kept them together in practice and perhaps it was the circle of community apart from the others that kept them a family.

And there was no need to declare yoga space Sacred, Sanctioned, Sourced or Shiva, Hot or Cold or Works or Plus. There was no yoga market so there were no yoga names and there were no yoga clothes and there were no yoga games. Well, there were games but they were games humans play in the unavoidable way of a species tasked to figure it out. They were small games compared to what would later transpire.

Yoga was the religion or an adjunct to beliefs already held dear. It was a physical and spiritual practice done with intention to follow the steps provided by its creators. It suited the devout.  It took itself seriously.

A decade later another stranger came to town. Though she did not know it, she would be the forerunner for something called Modern Yoga. She came from the East Coast and then the West Coast full of dance and fancy and hippy drenched yoga love and she wore flowing clothes to yoga.

The first stranger was gone on the dark wings of cancer. But her yogini daughter befriended the new stranger who was introduced by one who had just created something on the West coast called Power Yoga that would change the yoga world.

The island of yogis in the Bible Belt Sea were kinder than kind but some of them bristled at the stranger who muddied yoga with music and dance and merriment. They resented the intrusion, looked askance at the medium. They did not see the writing on the wall or maybe they did.

H.Lindsay

The stranger who came from the East Coast and then the West Coast had found a home amongst dancers. She had no dreams but to raise kids and share her passion but the island of yoga had successfully attracted the sea of the town and in a rare moment of synchronicity, it heard her music and her laughter and it stormed her doors.

Ten years later and yoga strangers would change towns all over the country. Yogis would be competitive and name their business and name themselves and open retail stores to create more wealth. They would add music and bands and videos. Keeping pace with consumption, yoga would become a bottomless pit.

The Bible Belt was no longer provincial. Business saw opportunity in a virgin ready, waiting to be delivered and devoured.  A steely entrepreneur from afar looked at a map and judged that place to be the ripest in all of the country for a moneymaker called Hot Yoga. I know because she told me. It was the first time yoga would be sold for cold cash.

The Yoga Room had become the first school of teacher training. Who knows if the owners, long gone, knew what that training program would herald. Perhaps they were the first to grow big pockets from the dreams of zealous pioneers who wanted to make yoga their lives. Soon every studio in town would have its own teaching program. Soon every teacher would be in competition with the next and studios would mark themselves in name and battle lines.

It was rumored that the stranger from the East Coast and then the West Coast’s students wild with jealousy and greed finally threw a hood over her head, tossed her in the back of an Audi and hauled her away. With her gone from the light, a new empty room with an empty name would surely fill with their own students. Money can buy so many things. Some say she was never heard from again and in truth it seemed that way.

The Yoga Center became a holdout and laboratory for a quiet and tenacious group of traditionalists who once a week continue to sit at the feet of its original owner, a now 80 something matriarch who could still kick the ass of every yogi in the region when it comes to physical prowess.  She carries the mantle of a thoughtful and truthful path.

The one who was harbinger of things to come appears in a ghostly transparency on Sunday mornings, harkening back to the place where yoga blossomed in her adopted town.  In a little one room house untouched by time in the neighborhood where yoga was begotten; in that place still simply named The Yoga Room she teaches yoga while others are in church. Her solidity manifests as the music rises.

Yoga Devis from Rebel Yoga Calendar 2001; A Celebration of Students. copyright Rob Lindsay

If you trust the storyteller, believe her that her evolution heralds another shift in the evolution of yoga. It is unfinished business becoming true right now.

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Dear John: A Letter Regarding Your Manifesto from the Contamination Pool

Dear John,

You don’t know me and I don’t know you but you’re somebody’s child just like me and we deserve to be loved. So I’m not writing to make you feel bad but to express my concern about a direction you’ve taken that’s making you look foolish and to express my impression of that foolishness which is what I do.

We’re not so different. I also entered yoga with Swami Satchidananda’s book. We are from the same generation, John.

And I also left my day job for yoga not long after you. I also appreciate Iyengar’s work and thank you for distilling it into broad strokes and ABC’s for easy digestion and accessibility to the general public so I could think of it as principles of alignment: so simple. But that wasn’t all you was it John? You had help and nothing wrong with that.  I mean you’re a money guy right? You must know the mantra for yoga teachers is that it’s O.K. to have a business model as yoga has become industry. Brand yourself and sell it. You were ahead of the curve there; tithing? Fucking brilliant! Well, it worked for the church, eh?

You created a kingdom and I get why you are reluctant to stand down from the throne though some of your faithful suggest there is no other way. No one likes to be dethroned from their own kingship. And you have all that business sense that you poured into the creation of a million dollar world -wide broadcast center to spread your message. It’s within hand’s reach now. You must know your penchance for gluttony. How irresistible is that beacon of broadcast at the ocean’s edge!  You have dharma to preach.

Now John, I’m not crazy about the polished posturing of politicians. It just pisses me off. And I recognize the smell of fear and shit when it’s in my face. I’ve seen men throw themselves at the feet of God and beg forgiveness and I’ve seen them prostrate themselves to their public. They are only human, John, like you. They should be forgiven. Like you.

But no, you do not become a better person because you had the shit scared out of you. You just act like one until time and reflection makes that real. You could have at least played the game for your audience.  Crawl away in humility for a little R&R before you start declaring new missives intent on, no sure of, an Anusara posse at your side. But maybe humility is not your thing. Well, we could all use a little more confidence. Hey John, you know what I’m reminded of? The Wall Street Bankers who got caught in moral bankruptcy just last year! Perhaps we can blame all of this on tough times. It might be worth a try.

And John, I recognize a manifesto when I see one.  You have created a new paradigm in which you and the community will heal together and go forward in even greater light and transparency with a democratic founding that insures that the leaders you helped to create will now have a voice in your kingdom.

But c’mon, you know you’ve pissed off too many people and most of them are probably women.  You don’t want to mess with women, John. You know, they talk. And ever since they were written out of a Bible that declared their name and power forbidden, women have been reclaiming their influence slowly ever since. Don’t fuck with women, John, just a bit of advice.

I have two sons and two brothers.  I appreciate men and I have always enjoyed great friendships with men and I am sensitive about the differences between us that can cause resentments and power struggles and breakdowns in socially accepted behavior. It’s part of our yoga story, isn’t it?  All this consciousness, this awareness, this discipline we talk about is more than words, wouldn’t you agree?

Time waits for no man and Wikipedia has already updated the story of Anusara to include your latest event. Wouldn’t it be funny if it was spelled Wicca-pedia?  Maybe you could spend some quiet time developing other interests on a site named just that. It could be therapeutic at a time when the world feels too real. That was meant to be funny. Levity saves us or at least it saves me.

You did so well with your patter of inner body bright and shining out banter. I get it. I feel it in my practice and so I know that is clever. But the cleverest part of it is that you could sense a broken population seeking answers in a dark decade tinged with hopelessness.  People were hungry for that. And they would stay charmed as you cast spells. They didn’t realize that in some small part they were cast in your darkness as well as your light. Or maybe we see what we want to see or what we expect to see and you were also cast as a wise man. Still, rest assured that your pre-corruption framework for the Anusara practice stands on its own.  Those who practice it are doing good work. You can be proud of that.

I didn’t mean to beat you up although I can see how harsh I’ve been. I am not a hater but as one yogi to another, one who has your seasoning and your age, I’ve got your number and I’m just calling you up

Friend who I’ve never met, go home and sort yourself out. Whoever helped along the way, however it happened, you’ve left a legacy that will probably embrace you in your next incarnation. Take your broken self home and wait for light to shine through the cracks as it will. Namaste: The human in me recognizes the human in you. We share obstacles. We want to be happy.  In this way, we are one. You are not alone.

Respectfully, Hilary

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The Pants Seller’s Circus; A Fairy Tale

The Pants Seller’s Circus

  A Fairy Tale

written in 2010;  the author was inspired by Lululemon and  the fiefdom of ambassadors

Long ago and far away a small group of sages designed a system of actions (SOA) that might save people from themselves. They called it yoga but that name had since been forgotten.

SOA lasted throughout time in a quiet fashion amongst a small group of people and it was too small a group to change the world but then the SOA spread to the land of America. Like all things in America it took root and prospered.

In SOA this was written: Do no harm, do not steal, do not covet, do not lie and do not overextend yourself as to make yourself self righteous or make others weak.  They called this part the first Limb with five branches and it was the first step towards the beautiful universe. This step had to be built to gain access to the next step or the next step would crumple.

A group of hawkers got hold of the system.  They were part of a universal tribe of hawkers who made a living by selling goods all over the world.   The hawkers came to each village and sought out the most influential and successful entrepreneurs of the SOA and knighted them. Those who were knighted were given gifts of gold and promises of glory in return for advertising the hawker’s wares. They became corrupted and shills for the hawker industry.  And the hawkers sang the leaders praises while selling high ticket gear that appealed to the leader’s people.

SOA had eight limbs all together which were intertwined with one another. Step by step, limb by limb, the devout could move from the outer to the inner realm.  But if one step was missing, one had to go back because no one could stand on the next step without sinking if the one before was missing.  The steps were not just steps. They were actions that took one from the gross to the subtle. Like a wooden Russian doll with smaller and smaller dolls inside it, one had to uncover the surface to attain the doll beneath. The last limb, the last little Russian doll was called Bliss. Everyone wanted to get to it. Some were in a hurry.

There were some priests and priestesses among the leaders and their flocks who feigned knowledge of Bliss at the center of the system. They spoke quietly or in song cloaked in shawls and turbans. They did not have the patience to step limb by limb. They were desperate to have Bliss right away. They spoke knowingly of Bliss and the virtuous path to Bliss but they had bored a hole in the outer shells, in the outer limbs and crawled into the belly of Bliss like fruit flies and there hid out laying waste to all the outer layers that became porous as rotting wood.

The knighted leaders of SOA were lost souls.  Their attraction to it was fragile, born of a love of attention and an attraction to power.  They disseminated the SOA for their own means and they did not live by it. They fought amongst themselves and it was even whispered that a photograph was taken where they lined up with arms around each other striking a pose like hapless Rockettes but had knives to each other’s backs like Brutus to Caesar.

To get to the second Limb of five branches the people had to answer questions: Do I feel  pure of heart, do I have a desire to press on, do I have a desire to learn, am I ready to confront myself, am I capable of acceptance? It was easy to answer yes because they were delusional but it was the third Limb that kept the leaders’ purses full.

It was the third Limb that the hawkers could market to. It was the body. The body needed gear. The body had a mind and the mind could be manipulated. Though the human form might follow the thought of the first limb and the second limb it didn’t have to. All one could really see was the form itself. No one would know the difference.

SOA was in danger. Co-opted by the hawkers it would live on as an accessory to the high priced gear.  All the hawkers needed were its name and its form.

Seers and sages cloaked in the garb of modern folk started leaving the cities.  The planet was in danger. It was used up and angry. The cities were claustrophobic with frightened people who had lost their purpose. The seers went forth seeking space to focus on ways to sustain and replenish the earth and waters. They went to the mountains and plains to make peace with the planet. They carried SOA in their hearts. They carried the books and their notes and journals and they lived like Renunciates honing their skills of intuition tuning their minds to love.

Left behind were still hundreds of teachers who were also students of the SOA. The people didn’t notice them easily as their spirits were cloaked in such a way as to make them invisible except to those who sought them out.  Some say their vision was clearer in the shadows away from the glare of celebrity and fortune but I for one know that glare does not eclipse anything except in the eye of the beholder or judges. One can do both.

Life began to slowly change because jobs were scarce and money was more precious and the people began to appreciate that life could be good without so much stuff but the economy was predicated on buying stuff and it began to fail.  The leaders of the SOA were affected too and although they still had power and some fortune, it was dwindling. The leaders began to notice that the people were getting weary of the leader’s swagger and bored by the hawkers’ gear. The leaders began to fight amongst themselves. America’s success was predicated on selling systems and gear. There were the Great Marketing Wars. SOA was renamed and repackaged in hundreds of ways all over the country and much of the free market got involved to support that with gear and cheap labor and materials. There was no other way.  The people were distracted and anxious. They had so many choices and so much to buy.  Meanwhile the country was being decimated, torn to pieces by partisanship. SOA was just part of the chain of partisanship that was running through the desperate country.

The people supported the hawkers of every system whose advertising assured them of their inadequacies. They could benefit from the hawker’s wares.  They could benefit from the system of religion. They could benefit from SOA.  The people were insecure, broke, and emotionally bankrupt and the wars waged on exhausting their resources ever more.

Not the end: Just the beginning.

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The Space Between

The moment in between what you once were, and who you are now becoming, is where the dance of life really takes place.� � Barbara De Angelis

Racing out of African dance class sweating and out of breath on the way to my next appointment I stop for a moment trying to remember the name of the dance we just did. It occurs to me how many different dances are about the same thing; rite of passage.

There are rites of birth and rites of death; baptism, “bris” and burial. Every personal year begins with our birthday and every community year ends with a New Year celebration. A coming of age is acknowledged with bar-mitzvahs, confirmations and sweet sixteen parties. A coming of time is marked with graduation and retirement. Wedding is the passage from “me” to “us”. Anniversaries remember time held in that space. There is also a place between birth and death, after the graduations and before retirements, where we find ourselves unexpectedly in an undefined passage with no celebration to mark it. Something happens to us between the time we are fearless world changers and wise women and men. It’s the space between. It’s not marked by a rite of passage because it’s too big and too vague and means different things depending on who you are. It’s the space where you look for the glasses that are sitting on top of your head and it’s the space of profound revelations. My husband jokingly says this rite of passage is the passage of the cruise. Could be the passage of the Winnebago too but we’re not there yet; not even close.

I hit that space at the same time both my freelance film maker husband and I had to deal with rapidly changing businesses. If we are not our work then at least our work provides a way for us to support our loved ones and maintain some ease. Many of us are our work. Unlike generations before us who were pressured by the older generation to measure up and then had to stay current over the natural course of time, we’ve been pressed by a culture of youth to quickly get relevant or cease to exist. The speed at which we are required to change now is impressive. Throw in an economy in decline and people who still depend on you and it makes for some confusion and soul searching. I’d worked free-lance all my life and was suddenly sick of living on the edge. I romanticized that I would get a job answering phones and day dreaming. I would get a paycheck and health insurance and a vacation. I would paint and write. I knew I was losing my mind.

I have a shirt with a picture of a smiling Marine holding up a coffee cup. It says “HOW ABOUT A NICE BIG CUP OF SHUT THE FUCK UP”. I love that shirt. I’ve had it for years but hadn’t worn it for awhile. Resignation had replaced indignation and I had hardly noticed it. You’ve got to have a healthy indignation at stupid and a sense of humor to wear a shirt like that. My indignation was there but the sense of humor disappeared for a bit and there was more than just a touch of “who cares”. At a time when the fluctuations of my body heat were more interesting than the fluctuations of my mind and not totally unrelated, I’d come to recognize that I’d spent a few years in the limbo that’s the space between. It is the space between not having a purpose and not needing one.

I looked at the picture on my driver’s license yesterday. The space between that picture of me seven years ago and now is a lifetime. I raised and released kids into the wild. I had a place in a small yoga community and got lost in an exploding city. I was a confident healthy young woman who slept with ease, moved with grace and became a sleepless zombie with aching joints and a restless mind. Yoga was a simple business between teachers and students and became a computer generated fast food restaurant menu of random everything. In a confluence of circumstances which included a shift in my self- image, a change in the business practice and tone of yoga, and the cultural earthmover of the internet steamrolling behind us I was ready to bail. Ba ba _ ba ba ba; like the space between the second and third beat of a Cuban clave, it’s hardly there but it’s huge. If we are not the person we always knew and recognized then who are we? Are we still relevant?

When you’re a kid you think you’re invincible. That’s good. It sets you free. You get older and you think you know everything. That’s also good. It gives you courage. Then there’s the sweet spot where you do know something and hopefully you’re not quite an arrogant prick and it’s primetime. It’s a good time to make a name and money. It’s the time of raising a family. It’s the time to pull yourself together, make a statement and own the world. The next transition sneaks up on you. It’s no more extraordinary but seems so advancing with amplified awareness gained only by the experience of putting time in on the planet. The clarity comes in hindsight. There’s a period of time you’re aware you’ve been thrown clear and you’re sort of fucked but you don’t know how surreal that was until you hit the ground again.

I had a moment of doubt but it’s over. It was interesting being demure and angry at the same time; humbled and not the least bit humble. Free falling gave me distance to see more objectively. It is between points of balance where the work of life takes place but that one lasted an uncomfortable length of time. When you still need gravity it’s important not to lose sight of the shore.

I’ve had help from my students who are the keepers of my words. When I’ve forgotten that my work has purpose they’ve been there to remind me. I’ve forgotten my own ideas but they come back to me by letters and phone calls and chance meetings with people who have gone on to other things or moved away. They, who know that I could not give them the video of the class we just finished because I’d forgotten by the time I’d walked out the door, have had to remember for themselves. I’d advised them over the years to remember what I would forget so that it wouldn’t be lost. Now they remind me and give me back to myself and in doing that bring me back to work. Stream of consciousness teachers are conduits more than lesson planers; not better or worse but different. The problem for people like us is that our work is like sand paintings. Even if there are pictures of it or things written about it later, as the experience is over and we stop creating, we cease to exist. We are like Peter Pan’s friend Tinkerbell who will disappear unless people clap for her. The clapping is love. The clapping means we were here.

I’ve never had a direction that I consciously chose much to the dismay of friends and family. I’ve always been too stubborn to give a damn and I’ve also been lucky. I’m still on a circuitous path but these days I have a greater sense of purpose despite having no plan at all. Things have shifted again as they always will but mostly my viewpoint has shifted. It just took some simmering in limbo before I could climb back into myself. I think I was like an overactive immune system trying to throw myself out with the things that were making me mad.

I’ve got my New York attitude back. I’ve readjusted. I’ve made friends with the enemy of this time stealing soul sucking internet life. I pick and choose when to let it in. After that I just let that happy shiny Marine on my shirt do the talking.

I was always a solitary walker. Friends know better than to call me for a hike. I walk alone; or I thought I did. But this rite of passage has revealed a time to embrace dance partners. It’s the clasp of the people who touch and teach each other and remind us we are relevant. There is no ritual to mark this but this letter to myself.

(Published in Elephant Journal)

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