When Yogis Steal.
With all the emphasis on being a good yogi, there is always one thing that surprises me: when yogis steal.You would think this doesn’t happen. You would think that yogis would be highly conscious of things like stealing especially since Asteya, or non-stealing, is in the Yamas and Niyamas, the yogi Ten Commandments.But no.Yogis are happy to tell you how to be yogic. They will tell you to eat vegan and gluten-free, not to curse, or curse, depending on your world view and appreciation of authenticity. Yogis will tell you how to raise your children and how to live your yoga.But apparently, many turn a blind eye to stealing.I wasn’t raised as a yogi. I was raised in an old-fashioned home with divorced parents and a mother who worked very hard for every single meal she put on the table. Despite our needs, I was told that stealing was wrong. To be honest, I lifted a nail polish once from a drugstore, and my mother made me bring it back and offer to do community service. I might have been 10.I don’t know why stealing surprises me. After all, yogis are humans too. The reason Asteya is one of the tenets of yoga is that theft was a problem even 2,000 years ago. But still, I am surprised. I guess it’s because I believe in the good in people.In fact, my work is so often stolen, imitated, lifted and copied that I am now regarding it all as flattery.For example, as soon as I labeled myself “A real voice in yoga,” one of my noisiest critics, a yoga media source who continually implied that I’m not yogic, and my books aren’t yogic, and my face isn’t yogic (perhaps a small exaggeration) started calling themselves “A real voice in yoga.” Really?So now another yoga news source has run an article on “Why Yoga is Going Broke.” Come on. You can’t even find a more original title? I heard about this from one of the 73,000 readers of the original blog.A few years back a yoga studio opened up and they immediately offered a Yoga Teacher Training, because when studios need money that’s what they do; train more teachers. The problem was that they took the basis for their course from another studio. Not okay.Later this same studio took the itinerary for a workshop I was offering, copied it, then called all of my students and offered the same thing for half the price. And you know I can’t make this stuff up.Earlier this year, Alanna Kavailya accused Wanderlust this year of taking her personal YTT manuals as the basis of their teacher training course. What were they thinking? That Alanna wouldn’t notice?On my original blog, “Why Yoga is a Broke-A**Business,” one yogi wrote in to say that as a result of the severe competition for students, other teachers were always stealing her sequences. Let me get you a box of tissues sister.I tell every teacher I’ve ever trained: give credit when you borrow a sequence. We all do it. It’s called being inspired. But you must say, “I got this from the fabulous Channing.” Otherwise it’s called stealing. Furthermore, you must add your own original content or perspective to the sequence, otherwise it’s called pathetic.I teach at several studios and one had to install cameras a few years back because things were being stolen: money, clothes and students' purses. I had a student who, after class, discovered that someone took his sweaty Uggs. Come on people.I wrote the book “Theme Weaver: Connect the Power of Inspiration to Teaching Yoga,” and almost immediately a teacher on the East Coast offered a “Theme Weaver” workshop. I have Google. I know when you do this stuff. And I have a copyright. This is illegal.One yogi told me recently that a studio had used her image to promote their business. Yup. I’m not surprised. If you look carefully at a local Denver health club’s marketing photos, you will see a much younger picture of me. That was before I was the Yogi Muse (COPYRIGHT, MOTHERFU*&ERS).So I’m not perfect. I stole that nail polish many years ago. But I do know right from wrong. I know that hard times in the yoga world will lead to some pretty desperate measures. But people, have some dignity here. There is only one real voice in yoga, and if you claim to be it, you better be speaking the truth.September 30, 2014Michelle Marchildon is the Yogi Muse ©. She is the author of two books on yoga, a columnist and an E-RYT500 yoga teacher in Denver, Co. Also, she has Google, and she’s not afraid to use it.