The Business Sensibilities of the Goddess

A few months ago I enrolled in an online business mentoring program for yoga teachers designed around the many faces of the Divine Feminine. I had been looking for a “How to market your holistic health/yoga-like business” type of thing, something to inspire me and give me some tools – and as much as anything else, to give me some structure and hand-holding while I make some decisions. Every program I was finding, however, felt too slick, too much about “marketing” and not enough about “inspiring.” When I found this program, I realized of course the goddess herself is my perfect business guide.

Yoga here in the U.S. is practiced by an overwhelmingly female community. Something like 85-90% of yoga practitioners here are women, as are the majority of our yoga teachers. And yet, among the successful national teachers or high-visibility leaders in our yoga community, a much larger percentage are male. Interesting. The leader of the Divine Feminine Yoga mentoring program, Laura Cornell, speaks powerfully of her perception that many yoga teachers in the U.S. today actually feel quite disempowered. Although we are teaching methods to find freedom, empowerment and ease, many of us do not actually feel free, empowered and at ease, at least not in our businesses.

This is certainly true in my own circle – most of my yoga teacher/Ayurveda practitioner friends do not feel their businesses are thriving, or at least would not describe them as “abundant.” Many do not feel they are making enough money, or have taken on additional jobs in order to pay the bills. Many teach ten or more yoga classes per week and end up feeling burned out or drained. Hardly an inspiring example of empowerment. This contradiction has been in the back of my mind for years, and last month it came screeching to the front.

Our mentoring program is organized around the strengths of four particular goddesses as we explore business-building, sales, self-promotion and our personal power.  In the first unit, as we dove into identifying the types of students we most love to teach and the unique gifts we bring to that particular niche, we invoked Durga, the fierce, fearsome, poised warrior goddess. This particularly feminine form of conviction and service is embodied in the mother bear defending her cubs with unrelenting focus and passion. From Durga we can model impassioned commitment and the mobilization of our unique skills to serve our ideal students. (Saber-brandishing, anyone?)

As I listened to Laura speak in the first tele-class, a lightbulb went on over my head. I have been operating (unthinkingly) under the assumption that in order to build my business, I need to work harder, faster, MORE – a linear, rational, some might say masculine, model for expansion. This style of effort syncs up quite nicely with the Pitta strategy for progress that is my natural tendency (and periodic downfall!). I have been on the hunt for other models, models that recognize the cycles of Mother Nature, powered by fluid waves and circles. The path forward is actually rarely linear – sometimes it’s even a spiral, appearing to move backwards before spinning around the bend and catapulting ahead.

In the last week, as I’ve been inviting the goddess to hang out with me while I muse about my next steps, I have also felt a resurgence of acceptance – of myself, and of circumstances –  I am “already alright” just as I am right now, half-cooked, in the middle of everything. I don’t have to do more. In fact, as always, I must practice what I teach. Breathe. Rest. Go outside. Practice faith. It really is that simple. The presence of the Mother is divine guidance indeed.

5 thoughts on “The Business Sensibilities of the Goddess

  1. amalakigirl says:

    Nice! Keep us posted. This is such an interesting way to look at the business component of our work from a different perspective… why shouldn’t we have business practices more aligned with a non-linear approach, our spirituality, etc.? Does this mean praying and manifesting over marketing? A balanced combination of both?
    Thanks for writing and sharing about this. It’s helpful to know that I’m not alone in feeling awkward/thwarted by the whole business side of things. I would be joining the camp of burnt out yoga teachers had I not recently scaled back and committed more time and energy to growing my Ayur practice. Its working! It’s nice to be reminded that we are okay just as we are, and where we are; to trust that Universe will show us the way and not to force/expect too much. This is my constant lesson. Patience.
    By the way, I shared a couple of your Vaidyagram posts with Ayur students today to get them excited for India. Yay!

  2. savasana addict says:

    It’s interesting, isn’t it? Most practitioners are women, but many of the successful teachers are male. Look at cooking: In most households it’s still the women cooking whereas most of the famous chefs are men. Coincidence or a pattern?
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, great post!

    • Ivy Ingram says:

      Very interesting, indeed. Good example about the chefs. What I am contemplating these days is how to draw upon our innately feminine qualities (which can be held by both men and women) in a way that actually feeds my business. In other words, I think it is a particularly feminine quality to look for and create connection as a strategy of thriving in this world (and I know some men who are far better at it than some women). That quality of forging connections can be a great asset for any business – and we can use it consciously to serve the purpose of sharing yoga or Ayurveda, especially if we marry it with technical skills (often considered the masculine domain – and again, to be clear, not possessed solely by men). Ultimately, that’s what yoga is, anyway – the marrying of opposites, the confluence in the center of all of our gifts, strengths, shadows and weaknesses. Thanks for sharing YOUR thoughts Andrea! Peace…

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