When I first opened Beloved Yoga over 15 year ago, I envisioned how nice it would be to offer a space for teachers to come teach, share and inspire. Pretty soon, I realized I wasn’t only offering space to the teachers but also mentorship. It made me step back and realize in my own life and career how vital having a mentor was.
When I knew I wanted to become a yoga teacher, I thought I would just sign up for any yoga teacher training. After my first weekend of a Yogafit training, I knew I needed a teacher/mentor. A teacher/mentor that I could reach out to, converse with and have a long-term relationship with to offer guidance on my journey. It took me years to find my first yoga teacher/mentor, Bhekaji Lynch. My relationship with her was pivotal to how I desired to create sangha and connection, and ultimately impacted how I ran a yoga studio. Since then, I have had a few other mentors I am equally indebted to.
So, what is a mentor? A common definition is someone who offers one-on-one counsel and is respected for their knowledge and experience by the one being mentored.
“Mentors are invaluable for so many reasons, but essential for providing knowledge, motivation, advice and counsel, encouragement when you need it most, help with personal development, and so much more.”– “Why Having a Mentor is So Important” by Charrissa Cawley on StreetDirectory.com
As a yoga studio owner, I recognized how I can offer advice and support to the teachers to grow and expand with opportunities. Sometimes, I would even connect them to other studios for teaching opportunities.
However, one thing was essential. This one thing was never mentioned in any articles I read about mentors or mentorship, nor in any articles about opening and running a yoga studio, and it is this: As a yoga studio owner, you are always being watched and scrutinized. I knew how important it was to embody what I was teaching in yoga, both as a person and as a business woman. The path of embodiment is essential to becoming an effective mentor.
This month, the studio adopted the drishti (focus) of Santosh, one of the five niyamas of the eight limb/Ashtanga path. Santosha is an inner practice of being in appreciation for what we have. This month, I decided I would have a daily sadhana of santosha by highlighting a teacher/staff member at the studio and acknowledging their contributions. Simultaneously, I would offer the community an opportunity to say “thank you.” What does this have to do with mentorship?
As a yoga studio owner, I look at how I embody what we teach and uphold. Mohan-ji, my current mentor, says the only dharma defined for the yogi, according to the Yoga Sutras, is to embody the Yamas and Niyamas. I believe this is also essential as a yoga studio owner. It isn’t easy, but I am willing to strive for the ultimate, without attachment to the fruits of the actions. I make mistakes and I am not perfect. I can offer the best mentorship by first and foremost embodying the teachings of yoga.
This month, I am proud to serve on a mentorship taskforce panel for Yoga Alliance. We are discussing the role of mentorship in the 300/500 hour schools and in the yoga community. Grateful to Yoga Alliance for taking the time to inquire and explore how to incorporate formal mentorship programs into schools and for yoga professionals. However, this role got me inspired to look at the role of mentorship as a yoga studio owner; first, it being through embodiment. Don’t underestimate how you mentor with your presence.
May you be inspired and therefore inspire.