The Connected Yoga Teacher Podcast

100: Cultivating a Community of Professional Peers with Linda Sparrowe


How can we, as yoga teachers, build and maintain a professional peer community? Whether it’s taking ownership of our yoga, overcoming isolation, or dealing with the competition we feel as yoga teachers – we have all faced these challenges. Linda Sparrow shares some of her insights about these difficult and uncomfortable topics.

Linda Sparrowe is a writer, editor, speaker and mentor in the holistic healing arena, who has over 20 years of experience. She is the former editor-in-chief of Yoga International and editor of Yoga Journal, as well as the author of several books and contributor to various online offerings in the yoga space. She teaches vinyasa yoga and yin yoga classes and workshops nationwide.

What does it take to cultivate a community of professional peers among yoga teachers? Shannon and Linda tackle some of the issues impacting our community of yoga professionals, including social media scolding in the yoga community, making yoga accessible through language, dealing with Impostor Syndrome and supporting others within the community.

If you believe that yoga is all about the connections you make, or if you’re struggling with the idea of building a community while keeping your voice, or if you’re feeling isolated as a yoga professional, this episode is just what you need to hear.

Key Takeaways:

[2:40] Shannon introduces her guest for this episode – Linda Sparrowe.

[4:30] What first brought Linda to yoga?

[7:34] Yoga can help people feel more connected to themselves, even when they don’t set it as an intention for their practice.

[8:37] Linda often feels that she doesn’t know enough.

[9:27] Linda explains what drove her to discuss the 8 limbs in relation to the concept of having a community of professional peers.

[13:08] When the community engages in social media scolding, we are not honoring the teachings of yoga.

[15:16] Linda shares some examples of how we have deviated from the teachings of yoga.

[20:12] Linda explores the idea of sympathetic joy, and that feelings are not mutually exclusive.

[23:15] What is the difference between feelings and emotions?

[24:20] We don’t have a community that is predisposed to connect, and not judge.

[25:58] What would Linda suggest for yoga teachers to do to build that supportive community and get together?

[26:53] How does Linda address the concerns of yoga teachers who view each other as competition?

[31:09] Why is fierce competition and lack of community so prevalent among yoga teachers?

[35:05] Shannon and Linda discuss their own struggles with wanting to push for their way of teaching.

[38:29] Yoga should never be about getting better – it’s about uncovering the beauty of your soul.

[41:51] Shannon voices her challenge in standing with what she believes in but at the same time not tearing others down or going against yoga principles. Linda shares some insights to this difficult question.

[49:53] How does Linda deal with situations where she disagrees with the teachings of other yoga teachers?

[50:59] How can we build community and still have a voice?

[53:54] Community in an unhealthy way looks like a cult. How can yoga teachers be mindful in the way they build community?

[58:49] What does Linda suggest for yoga teachers who are feeling isolated and that they’re not part of a community?

[1:02:47] What is the bigger picture of building a supportive peer community of yoga professionals?

[1:06:30] Shannon has a question for you – what can we do as yoga teachers? How can we build community?


Gratitude to our Sponsor Schedulicity

Quotes from this episode:

“I actually hated yoga the first time I took it.”

“One of the reasons that I am so committed to yoga as a holistic practice is because I came at it from a meditative practice.”

“I just don’t know how to practice what I don’t live.”

“What is it that we are doing as a collective that is causing such pain and such separation and such a rift in the trust that our students have put in us?”

“How can we come together, not to scold one another and have a whole set of rules…but how can we support each other even those people who have caused the suffering?”

“We’re not even honoring what it means to be connected. We’re not even honoring that your suffering is mine, and my joy is yours. We’re not honoring that.”

“In order to rise up, what’s happening is that we’re squashing other people down.”

“Just concentrate on your game. Just concentrate on your gifts. What is it that you are giving your students?”

“We don’t have a community that is predisposed to connect, and predisposed to not judge.”

“You are stronger together than you would ever be by yourself.”

“Don’t allow the intelligence of the mind override the intelligence of the body. Your body knows.” – Linda, quoting Iyengar

“Don’t put yourself out as the expert at the expense of someone else.”

“We should use social media in a way that is actually compassionate and productive.”