Am I an Influencer?

A recent discussion really got me thinking about this idea of being an influencer. The definition of influencer is a person or thing that influences another. So by definition, I think that I am given the years that I have been teaching yoga to the public and leading teacher trainings.

Admittedly, I was a bit repulsed by the idea of being lumped in with the modern-day influencer world. Don’t get me wrong there are many people, yoga teachers among them, that are doing great work in the world and are “influencers” for a variety of companies and products. My history is not all that different: I am currently enrolled as an influencer for Prana, I have previously been an ambassador for Manduka, and have served over 5 years as a lululemon ambassador both in Boulder, CO and here in Tidewater Virginia. Apparently my influence has its limits when viewed by companies who are seeking out reps to market their products and events, as I was denied teaching opportunities at multiple yoga festivals for not having enough “followers” on all of the social media channels. I realize that I’m not the prototype for influencer nation as my emphasis and workload are focused on my local community. Additionally, I grow tired of the overabundance of curated, lustrous images often accompanied with benign content, the constant bombardment that comes with the incessant need for self-promotion. On social media especially, there often seems to be a lack of connection to what is real for most people at the expense of pushing a personal agenda or that of a sponsor. This is what had me wanting to rebel against being considered an influencer, altogether.

I’ve always taken seriously the fact that yoga instructors do have a platform and do have influence on their students. My aim has always been to maintain high standards of neutrality when it comes to interacting with yoga students before, during, and after class in conscious efforts to present yoga in a pure format that is void of salesmanship, righteousness, or dogma. Coming into the last week of being on a pedestal as Breathe’s featured teacher, I figured I better take advantage of my elevated platform and try to make a difference, and flex whatever influence muscles I have 💪

My intention, as always is to be authentic. Much like I used to be more vocal and uncensored about things, this blog was not edited and reworked, just my thoughts at this point in time.

If I could influence anyone today, here’s how I would hope to sway them:

Be Kind. Kindness is underrated and it doesn’t cost you anything. Open your eyes and notice when others are struggling or suffering, and lend yourself. A simple caring gesture, an offering of kind words, or being available to be of assistance are all acts that are significant to change the trajectory of our modern plight of disconnection and distrust. A sense of community is created when people are kind to those who need help. Kindness is also a willingness to whole-heartedly celebrate someone else’s successes, a very yogic action that helps dissolve our ego and foster connection. Additionally, research has validated that kindness is a key predictor of satisfaction and stability in a relationship. Basically, kindness is awesome and everyone should just be kind, always!

Practice more yoga. I’ve noticed a pattern in my many years as a yoga instructor that often the first things people let go when life gets challenging are the things they need most. When life is stressful, when the budget gets tight, when busyness becomes our modus operandi the practices of yoga will help us stay sane, help us realize we are whole and lacking of nothing, and help us gain clarity and improve focus to be efficient. Yoga offers us time, it doesn’t subtract it; and I’ve never heard anyone say after yoga, “that stressed me out.” There’s nothing better than being in the moment, and yoga is a direct path to achieving this moment to moment awareness. As for the cost of yoga, if someone looks at it as expensive, I say consider the alternative. What is more costly? – being stressed out, unhealthy, unbalanced, and saving a little money, or feeling whole, balanced, having that post yoga glow and knowing you will give yourself that gift again in a short period of time. Choose the latter it’s well-worth it.

Don’t hate, meditate. The point speaks for itself, but seriously get it tattooed on your chest and do it!

Rise above laziness. This one concerns me a lot! Modern technology has created many problems in our culture. It’s so easy to get information, too much information. I’m not quite sure we know how to process it all before acting. For example, it is so easy on a social media platform to see something and make a snap judgement, then go further and comment that snap judgement. Last night, Meaghan and I started reading the first chapters of Seane Corn’s new book. One of Seane’s fundamental teachings, which she tells of how she learned in Chapter 1, is “let go of the story and see the soul.” Everybody has a story, we often forget this, particularly when all we see is an image online. We can develop compassion for our own story, and the story of others, but ultimately see the soul, see the oneness that we share. We are all so similar, way more alike than we are different. As humans we desire safety, comfort, health, and happiness. How does this tie-in to laziness? Simple, all of the things: television, video games, wasting time online, easy/cheap forms of entertainment, the promised fast-path to happiness, whatever the lazy approach is it doesn’t lead to long-term fulfillment. I’m not certain of how sustainable happiness is, but I do know that feelings of fulfillment lead to joy and contentment. Anything that is worth having and worth doing and worth obtaining takes effort, it takes drive and determination, and quite often takes discipline – all which brings strength of character and builds resilience. We will reflect more fondly on the things in our life that were harder to get, than the things that were easy. The lazy path is wrought with many pitfalls that ultimately lead to suffering. Hardships and challenges teach us so many lessons and bring feelings of satisfaction once overcome. Use your discernment to understand the difference between an obstacle and a barrier, and to understand when down time that revitalizes has shifted to lack of motivation. Also, don’t let other people’s laziness bring you down to that level, which leads to me to my final influencer point:

Trust Your Instincts. These days we are susceptible to so much influence from so many directions. If we’re not careful, we may end up relinquishing our locus of control and forget how to steer our own ship. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been burned by not following my instincts. They are 100% accurate 100% of the time. Our culture is not advocating for us to connect with ourselves, or each other in deep and meaningful ways. We are being corralled into trying to buy our happiness and buy purpose and meaning in our life. It just doesn’t work that way! Trust yourself, believe in yourself and others, follow your intuition and you will accomplish amazing things. This level of communication with yourself, has to be done individually. A spiritual guide, or life coach may help us with the initial linking of presence, like picking up the phone and dialing. However, the only one who can have the conversation is ourselves. Do it! It’s essential, or as a race we may go to a place that there is no coming back from. I tend toward a bright outlook, but unfortunately we may be in denial about how much needs to change in order for us to get back on track as humans who genuinely care to advance our world. “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” -Howard Thurman

Today, I hope I’ve influenced you. I hope that I have persuaded you to get motivated to live your best life! I hope that we can connect on a meaningful way soon. Please feel free to reach out to me, share your thoughts and ideas. Let’s build a better tomorrow.

namaste

Gil

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