The Role of the Introverted Yogi
I am currently reading a book called Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. I picked up this book, which talks extensively about our culture’s general bias toward extroversion, because I, myself, am an introvert. A couple years ago, I noticed many of my ideas about success were based on what Cain calls the Extrovert Ideal: tons of social media followers, money, popularity, notoriety, a bustling schedule. While I’d love nothing more than to reach people with yoga, the idea of obtaining these hallmarks for myself makes me cringe. These sound more or less like an introvert’s nightmare.
The word introvert typically refers to someone who prefers interacting one-on-one, in small groups of close friends, or by herself, as opposed to large-scale, high-energy gatherings, which she finds draining. An introvert is usually more cerebral than social. Because our society seems to place great value on outgoing personalities, many introverts learn to interact in extroverted ways just to fit in. I think I’d definitely fall into that category; many people in my life would be surprised to know I consider myself an introvert.
Anyway, a couple years ago when I decided to move forward with yoga as my main focus, I realized the pop-culture ideas of success would not work for me. I wanted to make my own ideals, and reject the notion that success had to mean huge numbers. I feel a strong call of duty to share yoga. But instead of aiming to pack my classes to the gills, have thousands of social media followers, and fill my calendar with important events, I shoot for the small scale: closer relationships with fewer students, more personal interactions through social media, blogging, in real life, etc.
While there’s great value in reaching the masses with yoga as Kino MacGregor does through social media, the role of introverts in the yoga community is just as important. We’re here to build the deeper one-on-one relationships—the type that usually aren’t possible from the larger stage. We’re here to foster the close student-teacher bonds, and write the blog post that resonates strongly with the few instead of broadly with the many. The world needs both types of personalities for balance, and so does the yoga world. In this way, we can make sure everyone has a way to connect and grow that makes sense for each individual.
Having said that, it is still an incredible honor anytime a lot of students DO show up for my class or a lot of people DO read my blog post. No matter my personality type, the more people who are involved with yoga, the better! In the end, we are all just vehicles for the growth and betterment of our human community. We’re here to help one another! So I am willing to go where my path takes me, because I believe strongly in the power of yoga to transform. If I am occasionally asked to speak from a larger stage, I will do so with gratitude for being a vehicle of the power of yoga.