I am a planner by nature, and I love to have an idea of where I am going next. But, for me it’s important that while l am enjoying celebrating the past decade and looking forward to planning for the next decade that first I spend some time in a space of inquiry. With that in mind, my first task for myself is to review and rewrite my Core Values statement. This is a practice that I have returned to a few times over the past 20 years in business and I find it a helpful exercise to spend time asking some key questions, like who am I as a teacher, what do I teach, what is my role as a facilitator, and what are my aims for my programs?
Know What You Are Teaching and Why
A big part of developing and maintaining a healthy and successful teaching practice is getting to know yourself and your core values. Spending time developing a Core Values statement or mission statement is a good way to keep your teaching authentic and help you in making decisions about the direction of your teaching and your business. Too often when we don’t have a clear vision of our core values we can make choices and decisions about how we teach, where we teach, and what we teach that are, perhaps, not aligned with our essence, our scope of practice, or our unique skills and abilities. Your core values are like the foundation of all that you do, and can guide not only your teaching, but also your business management, marketing, communications, and the direction your business takes as it grows.
This has come up for me time and time again in my business as I have flown off in too many directions at once, said yes when I should have said no, or tried to be something that I’m not. I have no regrets, really, but I have had to learn some very hard lessons along the way, and one of those lessons is that life, teaching and business all run a lot smoother when you are making choices that are aligned with your core values.
Know What You Are Practicing and Why
Just as knowing your core values as a teacher is important, it is also helpful to sit down and reflect on your core values as a student. Why are you practicing yoga? How are you practicing yoga? What are your aims? What aspects of your practice, including place, community, style, intensity, etc are working for you? What aspects are not working for you? For me, having some physical limitations at this stage of my life, I have had to go through a long period of suffering due to the conflict between what I want practice to look like, and what my body/mind needs from yoga right now. Although it is my wish to continue a strong, dynamic practice which includes advanced asanas, my body/mind needs more subtle work and more attention to restoring rather than advancing. It took a few years and a lot of counsel from my health care team, but in referring back to my core values as a practitioner I realized that my wish for my practice (and my body) to look a certain way was not really in harmony with the essence of why I practice – and from that place of clarity I was able to craft a new practice that much better serves my needs and goals in this time and place.
This core values exercise has been a help for me both as a student and as a teacher/business owner, and I hope to continue to reap the benefits of this technique. So, for this month while I celebrate a big anniversary, I also go back to the drawing board to reflect, review, and re-commit to my own core values, and the core values of Yoga Trinity.
Perhaps you’ll join me in this reflective process to support your own yoga practice, teaching practice, or business.
How to Create a Core Values Statement?
Start with some brainstorming and write, draw, or cut and paste words, images and ideas that aim to sum up who you are, what you practice, what you teach, and who/where you aim to serve. Once you have finished brainstorming, take some time to organize these ideas into a cohesive statement or vision board that can reflect those core beliefs and values. Put your Core Values somewhere prominent so that you can see, feel, and reflect on those values regularly. And, set a date to return to your core values to reassess, review, and renew.