After having taught Yoga in Tofo in 2014, I realized I had the desire to go back, so I did In 2017. During this Yoga Travel Trip I learnt quite a few lessons. Some at a more personal level and other lessons were more about how to organize classes in Africa, teach them in an accessible way and on how to market them. In this current blog I’d like to share with you what lessons I learnt from my recent – Travel, Live and Work abroad – trip in Africa. My message? Collaborate instead of compete! You might also want to read my blog: ‘How to be creative whilst teaching Yoga in Africa?‘.
Setting up Yoga classes in Tofo wasn’t always as much fun as teaching them. Tofo has a well-known Yoga studio with 4 teachers that teach a full-time schedule. So getting customers to attend Yoga classes at a new, unfinished location wasn’t easy, nor fun. When I arrived in Tofo, the local teachers weren’t happy with my arrival. I had my work pretty well organised, marketed my classes actively and I was offering Yoga classes close to the beach instead of at a studio at a 15 minute walking distance from town and up on a hill. This caused quite an Yoga upraise. I couldn’t teach at the local studio, even though I had worked there before in 2014 and I had done it really well. Now in 2017 I basically started a sort of Yoga War by just being in Tofo and starting classes at a new location. The local Yoga teachers weren’t happy with me being in town. Instead of uniting our strengths as yoga teachers, we were therefore competing.
Smart move? No. I realize now what I could have done differently. I made several mistakes, but not on purpose. Lesson number #1? I should have arrived in Tofo without a plan. Even though a local dive center had invited me to come and teach at their place, I should have worked as an independent teacher. I could then have worked at several locations, instead of one yet-to-be-finished-but-will-be-gorgeous-one-day location close to the beach. The dive center was far from ready and not appropriate to be used as a Yoga space. The team wasn’t ready for it either. I still believe you can do Yoga anywhere, anytime, only a certain amount of peace and quietness is necessary to give our often overwhelmed nervous system a break of all daily sounds and impulses. This was lesson number #2. Don’t teach at a location that is not appropriate for Yoga and where a team doesn’t understand the Yoga practice and isn’t interested in it either.
I didn’t speak up. I felt unwelcome. I didn’t confront them. They weren’t honest with me. Thus after 4 months I realized lesson number #3: Speak up and say what it is you need in order to be able to share your gifts, talents and skills with the people who come to your classes. What if your needs aren’t understood and met? Leave and don’t stick around. I stayed way too long. I felt I wasn’t welcome and I wasn’t receiving the support I had expected to receive. Don’t stay like I did. Go if things can’t be changed.
Collaborate instead of compete
The most important lesson was lesson number #4: collaborate instead of compete. Look. It is simple and logical. Tourists come and go, they don’t know what is happening within a local community. The locals (expats) however do and they live there and will stay. They will be loyal to people who have lived their longer than you. These people are their friends and they support each other. This makes perfect sense too and I hadn’t given it enough thought nor credit.
To summarize my lesson learnt:
- Lesson # 1: Arrive somewhere without a plan. Get to know the place and people first.
- Lesson # 2: Teach Yoga at a location that is appropriate for Yoga and where you are welcome.
- Lesson # 3: Speak up. Express your needs.
- Lesson # 4: Collaborate instead of compete.
- Lesson # 5: It is never too late to re-connect.
Last, but not least, lesson number #5. In the week that I was about to leave Tofo, I opened up my heart to all who were involved and especially to the owner of the well-known Yoga studio in town, who I had been competing with. She opened up to me too on how my presence had made her feel stronger and more convinced about her path. This was such a major relief.The lesson I took from this: it is never too late to re-connect.
I realized that my job perhaps wasn’t to teach Yoga in Tofo, but to wake people up so to speak. When I was about to leave, they had organised themselves and were organizing their classes in a new way and were marketing it more extensively. I left being happy for them and proud that I had managed to learn so many lessons and had been able to restore a relationship. Yoga is about Union. It is about connecting and re-connecting and I was able to take that lesson to my next Yoga travel destination. Thank you Nelia for being a true Yogi!
How to slow down? Simply take a break and do Yin Yoga.
Sit still. Stretch. Breathe. Continue.
Yin Yoga with Marianne
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