Why co-creating with others could make you a better and happier yoga teacher
Photo by Natalie Pedigo
My best workshops, events, retreats and online projects have been those where I collaborated with others, where we offered something different from each other but shared our enthusiasm for what we love.
In the spirit of Thich Nhat Hanh, who said: "The next Buddha may be a sangha ( community)" I would like to share today, why I truly believe we should start to work together.
Take a moment and ask yourself: what am I best at as a yoga teacher?
You probably came up with an answer pretty quickly. Now ask yourself ‘Who do I know that’s good at the things I’m not?’
There is so much involved in creating an event, like finding the location, designing flyers, marketing your offering and so on. It's inevitably time-consuming and can be stressful to organize all by yourself, especially if you don’t feel confident that your promotional skills are as good as they could be.
I have taught a couple of retreats with a good friend and yoga teacher. While we couldn't be more different in how we teach and who we are as people, what unites us is our love and passion for teaching, having the same philosophy towards hard work, and sharing a commitment to communicating honestly about our differences - which is great, as we can offer more variety.
The retreats I hold with my teacher friend are always very successful, with many students telling us they love the differences between us and that they make the entire experience complete.
Then ask yourself ‘Could I work with them?’
This is especially important and there will be a little bit of experimentation involved until you find the person or people you know you can work with in a way that benefits your students and is rewarding for you.
Hopefully, the answer will be yes, and you can approach them to collaborate with you on a yoga event, combining your different skillsets.
I’ve learned that this kind of collaboration makes most sense when I team up with a teacher from a different lineage. For example, when my partner on a retreat offers Yin yoga and can complement my more vigorous Vinyasa.
As well as you and your partner offering different kinds of knowledge, you should choose to work with a teacher with a personality that complements yours. They might be more laidback than you and able to offer more academic study of yoga, meditation, or guided relaxation, for instance.
Working with someone from outside the yoga world
Don't underestimate the power of working with others from outside the yoga world to create special, different and unique events to really intrigue your students.
I work closely with an excellent physiotherapist. We prepare trainings and work together with clients.
I don’t pretend to know as much about anatomy as he does, and I recognize that students with injuries are safer in my physiotherapist friend’s hands. If he sees that someone with an injury would benefit from yoga, he recommends me.
For several years, I’ve also worked closely with a wonderful singer. She knows as much as I do about breath but teaches it differently (singing is breathing, as we know). When we combine our knowledge and approaches to teaching, it’s very powerful.
It’s also lots of fun, especially when everyone in the workshop is singing with an open heart.
These are just two out of many more examples of possible collaboration. The important thing when you partner up with someone outside yoga for an event is that you have a personal interest in what they’re offering.
Six elements for successful collaboration
COMPLEMENTARY SKILLS Team up with a teacher or teachers with skill sets that are different from yours so you can offer something bigger between you.
COMMON PURPOSE Agree on a common purpose for what you want to achieve from the very beginning. This should be clear and actionable and serve as the true north for your project.
DEFINED RESPONSIBILITIES Make sure everyone is aware of their responsibilities, what is expected of them to keep the collaboration flowing and aligned on what success looks like for the project.
1000 % OPEN COMMUNICATION Communicate honestly with your collaborators and be open to their thoughts on what you’re bringing to the project. Be direct and humble.
SHARED LEADERSHIP Agree to shared leadership equally according to your strengths.
TRUST Without trust, the team dynamic doesn’t work. Trust each other to make the right decisions, have integrity and contribute equally to the partnership.
The business case
Business has long known that teamwork has a powerful effect on the bottom line. It has a demonstrable impact on revenue and profits as well as boosting employee satisfaction.
Teamwork also helps combat burnout – something that affects yoga teachers rather more than you’d think.
One of the possible causes for burnout has to do with working too hard and lacking a support network.
Collaborating with someone who clearly values your skillset enough to want to work with you gives a huge boost to your confidence and takes some of the load off your shoulders. As well as being spiritually and hopefully financially rewarding – you’re in business after all - collaboration also goes a long way to making what we do for a living fun.
I hope this blog has inspired you to co-create a yoga event with someone.
I’d love to hear your ideas about who you’d like to work with and why.
Feel free to share this post with your colleagues and friends.
If you haven't yet, you might like to join my new “The Yoga Teacher Tribe” Facebook group for extra support and inspiration?
Thank you for your time.