Kelly and I are cooking up a great collaboration – co-facilitating the next Off the Mat: Yoga in Action group in Wellington
I read a post by Amanda Farough last week where she declares that 'collaboration trumps competition'. She was writing about web designers. When I told her that we face the same challenges in the yoga community she was a little surprised.
'I never realized that even in the most peaceful, heartwarming vocation, the creeping nature of competitiveness still lurks.'
But there it is, even in the most peaceful, heartwarming vocation – the creeping nature of competition is lurking. Let me paraphrase Amanda -
Yoga studios. Visiting yoga teachers. Yoga retreats. Yoga intensives. Yoga iPhone apps. Yoga DVDs and CDs. Yoga online. Yoga spas. Yoga classes at gyms.
No wonder we can so easily get up in competing for a piece of the yoga pie!
Here in Wellington there are lots of yoga teachers in a smallish town. Increasingly that's the story all over the world. So many of us have been transformed by yoga and want to share it with others that it can seem the population of yoga teachers is growing faster than the population of yoga students.
In times like that it is so easy to feel threatened. Most people I know who teach yoga in Wellington are barely getting by. We charge very little for our classes because a) we want as many people as possible to experience yoga and b) people don't seem to be willing to pay more.
When you are barely making ends meet or, which is not uncommon in the yoga world, not making ends meet at all – it's not hard to understand why you might feel some fear when yet another new teacher or studio shows up in town.
I know for myself that I'm always aware of not wanting to step on any other yoga teacher's toes. I'm working hard to build my own yoga community of students but I want to do it without 'taking' students from anyone else. Between worrying about paying my own bills and worrying about straying into anyone else's territory, it's easy to lose the love.
But, as Amanda pointed out in the context of her web-design work, it was the love that got us all into this in the first place. We teach yoga because of what yoga has given us, a deeper connection to our deepest selves and, quite simply, lots and lots of love.
I can't say it better than Amanda,
I love code. I live, breathe, eat, and sleep design. I love people. The combination of the three is why violetminded got started in the first place. Love, baby.
Sure, somewhere along the line, I’ve gotta market and self-promote. I
may even try to make a bit o’ scratch. But money isn’t not what drives
me. It's not my currency."
Replace 'code' with 'yoga', 'design' with 'conscious activism/service' and 'violetminded' with 'Zen Peacekeeper' and you've got my story in a nutshell. Sure, somewhere along the line, I've gotta market and self-promote but money isn't what is driving me. Love is driving me. Love and a whole heap of enthusiasm.
Which is why, given the choice, I'll take a collaboration over a competition any day. That and the fact that I have never, ever come up with an idea that wasn't improved by the input of another brain and heart.
Of course there are some projects that are solo by their very nature. Writing the first draft of my memoir was a solo undertaking. But even then, I couldn't have done it without friends who were willing to read early drafts and now – joy of joys – I have my agent as a collaborator on the next draft.
When it comes to yoga, I'm grateful for my Wellington sangha (community) of teachers. I'm grateful for people who are brave enough to move past the fear we must all feel sometimes and find the magical spaces in which we can work together to make something bigger and better than what any of us could have done by ourselves.
Today I especially want to give a shout out to:
- Kelly Fisher and Lynda Miers-Henneveld of Yoga Unlimited
- Melissa Billington of Myoga
- Kara-Leah Grant of The Yoga Lunchbox
- Tyag Fenton of Yoga for Freedom
- Seka Ojdrovic of Yoga Sangha (with me!)
These five have all collaborated with me in some way or another over the past year as I've found my feet in the yoga world and I'm grateful to them all.
These days I'm buzzing with ideas about more collaborations, here in Wellington and across the globe and I gotta tell you, there's something mighty appealing about the variety and spice of a collaboration sandwich. Beats competition any day on my menu.
What about you? How does competition, fear and a sense of scarcity creep up on you? Is there a collaborative culture in your field of work? Can you imagine what flavours would be in your dream collaboration sandwich?