I was really anxious when I interviewed Penelope Trunk. Not only is she internet famous, I had no idea what the conversation was going to be like. Actually, I had thought that talking to her would make me squirm uncomfortably.
Penelope Trunk is a big name in career advising. She’s got a start-up funded doing exactly that. So it’s no surprise that even though I called her to talk about her humane goat cheese project, we ended up talking about my career as a yoga teacher around 8 minutes in.
She told me right away that people don’t want to read about yoga. And it’s a waste of time to blog as a marketing tool, because only people in a three-mile will come to my yoga class. So she tells me I should quit blogging.
No one wants to read about my yoga successes, because it’s boring. She told me to force myself to fail and then to blog about that. Or else blog about how yoga can help you get a boyfriend, or how yoga can save your marriage, or how to make more money by doing yoga daily.
Instead of reading about yoga, people want an interesting experience. She, for one, started doing Ashtanga yoga because movie stars went to the Ashtanga studio. Any movie stars out there who want to come to my class? I teach yoga to the movie star equivalents of the Berlin start-up world. Does anyone get a thrill from doing yoga right next to successful start-up founders?
Listen to my interview above (or download it!) with Penelope to find out:
- Why Penelope thinks I should go work at McDonald’s
- How yoga is like sex in terms of career
- Why Yoga Journal is a Ponzi scheme
- Why yoga teachers should not get paid—and why yoga should be free
- Is it yoga if you’re pissed off while you’re doing it?
- The difference between struggle and failure
Here’s what I wanted to tell Penelope on the phone but couldn’t: Penelope will grow in yoga by accepting the reality of her yoga practice. Her struggle with her current practice is her path of growth in yoga. It’s inner, not outer physical, work. Yoga is not just about putting your feet behind your head or holding headstand for 3 minutes. Yoga is also about how much you try and how much you fail and–the most important part—how you treat yourself after your failure. If you berate yourself and push your body towards injury during yoga practice, that’s not yoga. The yoga is in the compassion.
Be grateful for your limits. If we didn’t have physical limits, we’d have no opportunity to listen to our body telling us where our boundaries are for today. Maybe that’s a better way to describe yoga: playing with your physical and mental limits to keep expanding them.
Around minute 12 Penelope asked me how I got the courage to email her. I sent her an email without expecting any response whatsoever. The importance for me was in thanking her, not in getting any kind of acknowledgment. That’s how I do yoga too—I’m not doing it for weight loss or stress management. I do yoga for the sake of doing it—to connect my body, breath and mind. Does anyone want to buy that? The more I write about yoga, the more I think it’s unmarketable.
ACTION STEPS TO BEING COURAGEOUS:
- Do yoga to feel strong inside.
- Take a risk like sending an email to someone you admire.
- Forget about that email.
- Repeat every day for an entire year.
- Let me know what happens as a result.
Photo from Penelope Trunk