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CARE SERIES: Caring for the tradition of yoga in your marketing with Ravi Jaishankar



As a yoga teacher who cares deeply for yoga, I know you want to honor this tradition in your offerings as well as in your marketing so that’s why this conversation is happening today.


My guest, Ravi Jaishankar, is someone I met at a yoga conference and he truly blew me away with how he shared his message. Ravi was born in India and comes from a Hindu family and now lives in Colorado. He has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to the history and tradition of yoga and I’m thrilled to have him as a guest on the podcast.


Let me set the stage for you, I’m at the Yoga Teacher Conf in Denver, CO and I was attending the speaker and sponsor dinner. As you typically do at a dinner event, people start to introduce themselves and I just so happened to be one of the first and someone asked for the name of my podcast. After saying “Marketing Yoga with Confidence” it sparked quite the conversation. One that I will never forget.


Ravi was across the table from me and as the conversation turned to yoga as a business he shared his viewpoint so eloquently that it truly struck a chord with me. All around the table people asked him questions about the tradition of yoga and I was taking it all in all the while knowing that I was going to ask him to be a guest on this podcast. I knew I wanted to know his opinion from a marketing perspective. I was truly impressed with how he handled all the questions coming his way and he did so with calm and kindness for hours. It was remarkable to watch.



So after dinner and several hours of chatting went by it was time for me to go to bed but I wasn’t walking away without getting Ravi’s email address. So I walked over and asked him if he would be interested in being a guest on the podcast and possibly a guest in my membership too. I’m thrilled he said yes and I’m honored to say that he’s here today and will be a guest inside Thrive as well.


I’m asking him all the questions of how yoga teachers who aren’t Hindu can honor the tradition of yoga in their business and especially in their marketing. He has great insights into this and I know you’ll walk away with a lot after this conversation.



*Note: This is Part 1 of a 2-part series on the topic of Care. Part 2 is caring for yourself as an entrepreneur.




Traditional Sanskrit Invocation

Sanskrit

Om Sahana Vavatu

Sahanau Bhunaktu

Saha Viryam Karavavahai

Tejas Vinavadi Tamastu Maavid Vishavahaihi

Om Shanti Shanti Shantihi

ॐ सह नाववतु ।

सह नौ भुनक्तु ।

सह वीर्यं करवावहै ।

तेजस्वि नावधीतमस्तु मा विद्विषावहै ।

ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥



English Translation

Om!

May That (Infinite Being) protect us

May That nourish us both

May we work together with great energy and vigor

May our intellect be sharpened

Let there be no Animosity amongst us

Om! peace, peace, peace.


This is how Ravi started off the conversation and what a beautiful way to start. He continued on to share so many insights about how yoga teachers can honor the tradition of yoga in their offerings, lives and of course, marketing.


**This was also a podcast episode (episode #153. Use the player below if you'd prefer to listen to this message.




Recognize, Learn & Acknowledge The Roots Of Yoga

When I watched Ravi speak at the Yoga Teacher Conf he mentioned an analogy that really stuck with me. He shared that teaching yoga and not acknowledging and honoring the tradition of yoga is like taking fruit from a tree but not watering the tree. He said that this is what Western culture has done in packaging up yoga in order to sell it. We are taking the fruit (the asana, the meditation) but not watering the tree (caring for the tradition of yoga). Western society has branded yoga as “wellness” and “stress relief” but the true value of yoga is enlightenment and dissolving of the ego.


I was also fortunate enough to hear more of the history of yoga from him during his presentation at the event. While he only briefly touches on this during our conversation, he mentioned many resources that give a more comprehensive history (shared below). There is a trigger warning mentioned as some of these resources document the brutal genocide that occurred in India.


“Where are the brown people?...They’re not there because they’re still internally colonized” - Ravi Jaishankar


It’s also important to acknowledge that yoga was not created in order to make money in a business so as Ravi mentions, if we were to truly honor yoga, then it would be antithetical to the business model of yoga that exists today.


Additional resources from leaders in the Yoga Decolonization Space:




Honoring Yoga As A Yoga Teacher

Just as you’d approach anything else you’d like to honor, approaching this concept with softness and care is critical. The best way to start this process is by acknowledging that you likely don’t know everything on this topic, so learning will be a critical component. Take the time you need to learn and process the information referenced by Ravi and then allow that to inform your offerings and marketing overall.


During our conversation I asked Ravi how yoga teachers who aren’t Hindu could honor yoga in a supportive way. And I just loved Ravi’s response when he mentions that it’s important for there to be allies in this world that do honor the tradition of yoga. So the fact that you’re reading this blog post now is a great thing! You can be an ally for honoring yoga in many ways. It’s important to note that as you go down this path, it’s possible that as you begin to share more of the origins of yoga you might run into opposition from your students or others.


“The imperfectness of where you are right now, it’s perfect” - Ravi Jaishankar


Ravi also suggests that if you’re feeling called to make adjustments in your offerings and marketing on this topic that pausing is a great first step.


Pause, in whatever way this means for you, and learn about the tradition of yoga to see what feelings come up for you. Learn about the history and take time to grow in yoga yourself so that you can authentically shape your offerings and your marketing.





Marketing Your Yoga Offerings In A Way That Honors Yoga Tradition

The best way to market any yoga offering you have is with authenticity, therefore, if you’re diving into learning more about the tradition of yoga this will come through in your marketing as well. This will take time as you learn and adjust along the way but there are a few things you can do to honor yoga in your marketing in the short term.


Images:

If you’re not Hindu, it’s inappropriate to use traditional items from this culture such as deities. What this means is that if you use any deities in your marketing images, it’s best to remove them.


Words:

Shifting from overall “wellness” to more of the deeper spiritual teachings is more inline with the tradition of yoga, however, it needs to be authentic to what you’re learning. You certainly wouldn’t want to share deep, spiritual words in your marketing if that’s not how you teach or you don’t have the knowledge to speak on these topics.


Acknowledging that yoga is a stolen tradition is one way to call attention to this fact to your students.


“When it comes to authentic marketing, there also has to be some form of acknowledgement around the appropriation of the tradition” - Ravi Jaishankar


Specific suggestions for how you can reflect this in your marketing:

  • Include an acknowledgement of the tradition of yoga and that yoga is a stolen tradition on your website, much like you would see a list of core values or a mission statement.

  • Share this acknowledgement on social media

  • When you’re sharing about yoga, share that yoga is more than just asana



Your next step

If you’d like to learn more about the tradition of yoga so that it can be included in your offerings and marketing, please reference the resources that Ravi mentioned (shared below). Take the pause that you’re being called to take in whatever way it means to pause for you. Learn and remember that we do the best we can with the knowledge that we have. Move forward knowing what you learned today and continue down this path if it’s calling you.


And until next time give yourself permission to learn more about the tradition of yoga and grace along the way. I’ll talk to you soon.



Additional resources from leaders in the Yoga Decolonization Space:




Get More Done with Less Screen Time with Shailla Vaidya

“When it comes to authentic marketing, there also has to be some form of acknowledgement around the appropriation of the tradition”

- Ravi Jaishankar











About Ravi Jaishankar

Yoga has been with Ravi since childhood. Ravi is deeply grateful to have been born in India, grown up in a Hindu family, and to have studied a wide range of philosophies of Dharma. This exposure gave him first-hand spiritual experience that has percolated into myriad forms of personal practice today. Ravi's primary practice is Jnana Yoga, the Yoga of Self-Knowledge, which teaches the unity of Consciousness as the Absolute. Bhakti Yoga, the Yoga of Devotion, has been a major support to him, helping bridge the heart's raw yearning and unconditional love into one. The practice of Tantra, the path of the Goddess, has brought profound depth to his Sadhana (spiritual practice) by revealing the presence of Shakti (Divine Feminine) in the subtle body. Additionally, his passion for Ayurveda and interest in psychotherapy have added a wonderful healing dimension to his practice. All this collided more recently with Asana, leading to a beautiful integration and refinement in the body. Ravi also strives to approach Yoga from a decolonial lens, which not only includes contemporary social justice perspectives, but encompasses a larger Dharma based understanding to deconstruct asymmetric power dynamics between East and West that have deeply and negatively affected the roots of Yoga. He brings an emic (insider's) perspective and critiques the appropriative extraction, dilution and commodification process that Yoga has undergone in the West. Ravi lovingly offer the fruits of his study, meditation and Sadhana to the community in the spirit of Satsang, which means ‘coming together to share in Truth’.


How To Contact & Learn From Ravi:

Email: ravi.jaishankar@gmail.com

Meta Yoga Studio: https://www.metayogastudios.com/


 

Want to learn more from Ravi? He's a guest inside Thrive!


Periodically we have guest experts inside Thrive to answer your questions and I'm honored to say that Ravi is one of those guests. You can watch the replay of this Q&A call when you join. Be sure to get on the waitlist for the next time Thrive is open for enrollment!


>>> Click here to learn more about Thrive! <<<





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