Last night, I taught a Yogi-lates class at Boom Fitness, where I sometimes teach plain old yoga. I am not sure what made me say yes to teaching a class that is neither yoga nor pilates (since pilates, as designed by Joseph Pilates, was intended to be done on contraptions called “The Reformer” and “The Cadillac”)but merely a way to suck in people who don’t want to commit to either yoga or pilates.
I am essentially a yoga snob, a purist at heart. I never would have stopped practicing law to become a gym teacher or personal trainer, as noble as those professions may be. My conception of life after law was my giving the gift of yoga to others. Not just the physical gift (e.g., the yoga abs, the yoga butt), but the mental and emotional gifts that yoga unlocks (e.g., the tools to help one to be in the moment, whether the moment is good or bad, recognizing that the moment, like every moment, passes inevitably). And as rewarding as teaching pure fitness may be, it simply does not fit within my concept of what I want to be doing with my life.
As I taught “Neither Yoga Nor Pilates” last night, I felt like a fraud. I didn’t believe in what I was doing, and I didn’t enjoy it. I had a cheat-sheet with me because I knew that the sequence of actions I had planned out wouldn’t really adhere to my brain. But as I taught, I realized that the class was loving it. I’m not going to attribute it to skillful teaching or powerful personality on my part. I’ll just say that I was giving them the class that they wanted.
And it made me think about New York Yoga, the Upper East Side yoga factory at which I taught for a while, where the stated goal is a sterilized version of yoga that won’t scare off the bourgeois masses that live on the far east side of the Upper East Side. I am pretty sure that NYY is doing a fabulous business. Yet many studios with a much higher quality of teaching go out of business in their first year or two, or never turn much of a profit even if they do stay in business.
For me, this begged the question: If I could become “rich” doing something that I didn’t really believe in, would I?
People become rich manufacturing plastic urine sample cups. People earn handsome livings owning companies that turn trees into paper. But would I? If I could make a bunch of money selling some sort of bastardized amalgamation of yoga with calisthenics with gymnastics with stomach crunches, would I?
I tend to think “no”, but it’s really impossible to answer from where I stand right now, with no motivation to do so and no one telling me that if I did, I would.
So for now, I will go with no. But I do wonder.