Many of the most prolific teachers who changed the world started out with no students and no money. Eckhart Tolle, spiritual teacher and author, hit rock bottom and pretty much existed off a park bench before writing two successful books & going on Oprah. Pattabhi Jois, the father of Ashtanga yoga, was respected for his knowledge but his system of asanas was pretty much viewed as a freak show until Westerners came over and spread it like wild fire.
Popular yoga teacher, David Swenson, who teaches to packed rooms all over the world and whose books are used in teacher trainings across the country, often tells the story of how he was fired at a yoga studio because they hated his class and was so poor that he begged them to let him stay on and they paid him to make wooden yoga blocks. I often wonder, if that yoga studio is still in business and what they think about his current accomplishments. When we hear about success, we rarely hear about the years of struggle before it. Keep your head up. Keep believing in yourself. Below are some words from BKS Iyenger, father of Iyengar Yoga, about the years before his fame.
Excerpt from The Tree of Yoga by BKS Iyenger
Yoga was unknown when I first began teaching. I had to ask people to give me a meal in exchange for a lesson. At times I would practise yoga, drinking only tap-water, without any food for days. When I did get a little money, I used to live on bread and tea, because that was the cheapest nourishment I could get in India in those days. When I married, I did not have any way of looking after my wife. In my heart of hearts, I said to myself, " I am suffering, and now I am making my wife suffer with me." One of my pupils gave me a kerosene stove, another pupil gave me kerosene, and I bought only one cooking utensil and two plates to eat from. My wife would cook rice and when it was done, I would take it on a plate while she used the same utensil to prepare the dal.
I have struggled inch by inch, not only to free myself, my wife and my children, but at the same time to develop this most misunderstood subject of yoga, which in the 1930s was accorded no value, even in India.
The one thing that has lifted me to the level I am at today is the practice of asanas. I taught them as a physical exercise in the 1930's, not knowing what I should teach and what I should not teach, but with determination to come up in the world and to bring respect to this little known and misunderstood art.
If you strongly believe teaching yoga to be your dharma, the thing that you can give that brings order to the world, which in turn brings you happiness, then don't be sidetracked if what you see in front of your eyes does not match your mental vision. Don't be discouraged by being fired or having classes taken from you. Don' t be disheartened by empty rooms and small pay checks. Don't get angry when you put your time in but are still getting passed up. Know that the universe is conspiring for you to have what you need to be impactful. Keep going.
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