Yoga Teacher Amy Ip­politi talks seva (our theme this month), yoga trends, and find­ing hap­pi­ness.

Yoga Journal - - CONTENTS -

We can all get so self-ob­sessed.

I used to be in my own bub­ble, re­ally wor­ried about what oth­ers thought of me. Some­times it takes the ac­tion of do­ing some­thing like seva (self­less ser­vice) to get out of that self-ob­ses­sion. My Non­nie showed me that. She was al­ways a very gen­er­ous per­son, giv­ing com­pli­ments, money, or her time to help oth­ers. Even up un­til the end, she was dol­ing out sweet kind­ness. When she lost her abil­ity to do that, when she didn’t have the en­ergy to speak any­more, she slipped into un­con­scious­ness. That was a huge eye opener for me: Giv­ing back was her life’s pur­pose; seva makes you happy.

It was my fan­tasy as a child

to see an­i­mals un­der­wa­ter, to ex­plore that world. I thought I would be a marine bi­ol­o­gist, but that didn’t work out. I was lucky to meet Taro Smith, my part­ner, later in life. He was part of a net­work of some of the coun­try’s most pow­er­ful marine con­ser­va­tion­ists and ac­tivists. When they be­gan pho­tograph­ing hu­mans with an­i­mals un­der­wa­ter to il­lus­trate our in­ter­species con­nec­tion and I saw the im­ages, I said, “We re­ally should pho­to­graph marine an­i­mals with hu­mans do­ing yoga!” I be­gan train­ing, and we got started. It’s been amaz­ing; the im­ages are still go­ing vi­ral. Peo­ple get in­spired, they start ask­ing ques­tions, and as they get ed­u­cated, they’re more in­spired to pro­tect the an­i­mals they love. (Check out Taro’s un­der­wa­ter im­ages of Amy do­ing yoga along­side manta rays, sea tur­tles, and more at taro­

I feel like the ma­jor­ity of peo­ple on the planet

are not op­er­at­ing at their fullest po­ten­tial, and they’re not al­ways happy. So my mis­sion as a teacher is to help wake peo­ple up to their po­ten­tial, to help them live an em­bod­ied and con­scious life. Yoga has the power to help make peo­ple fig­ure out how to have a happy and con­scious life, and one that’s go­ing to help make the world a bet­ter place for all of us.

The trend in yoga that I hate most right now is

that stu­dios are not pay­ing ed­u­cated teach­ers what they’re worth, and they’re not pri­or­i­tiz­ing putting teach­ers with 500 hours or more of train­ing on the sched­ule. In the stu­dios that

are hir­ing teach­ers at the higher level, the qual­ity of the yoga shows, and there’s a gen­eros­ity there. I wish we could find a busi­ness model that sup­ports teach­ers who have more ed­u­ca­tion. Ul­ti­mately, it’s the stu­dents who suf­fer.

Teacher train­ings don’t give stu­dents enough train­ing

on how to con­duct them­selves as en­trepreneurs. Part of the prob­lem is that so many peo­ple take a teacher train­ing just to deepen their prac­tice, not to be­come a teacher; in turn the in­struc­tors don’t pro­vide enough pro­fes­sional train­ing. Then you have a bunch of grad­u­ates who see yoga as a hobby, and oth­ers who do want to make a liv­ing by teach­ing but don’t have the tools. That’s essen­tially why Taro and I started 90 Mon­keys [an on­line re­source for yoga pro­fes­sion­als] and wrote our book, The Art and Busi­ness of Teach­ing Yoga— to of­fer the pro­fes­sional train­ing teach­ers need.

The words I live by:

“You are the com­pany you keep, so keep great com­pany.” I learned this from my teacher, Dou­glas Brooks, and it’s al­ways true— it’s never not true.

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