The Shine Theory of Yoga


Have you heard of shine theory? I first heard the term while listening to a podcast, and followed up with this article by Ann Friedman. The basic idea is that while women may be conditioned to compete for success with one another in various arenas and thus often tear each other down out of fear and jealousy, we would be better served to befriend and support one another so that we are collectively stronger. I know that I have felt envious of and inadequate in comparison to some of the incredible women I know, yet this concept that “I don’t shine if you don’t shine,” speaks to me pretty forcefully. I immediately extrapolated this idea into the realm of yoga, where I think that, regardless of gender, those of us in leadership roles in the yoga community could use a healthy dose of shine theory.

Yoga teaches us that we are all One, interconnected and interdependent, yet if you look closely, you may find some pretty intense jealousy, competition, and fear amongst leaders of various yoga communities. I can't believe it. A yoga community in which the leaders are inspired by, support, and uplift one another is going to be far more successful, more impactful, and more delightful than one in which we behave as though we are all grappling for the last dollar on the table. The key to bringing more people into any one studio or yoga-related business is to bring awareness and enjoyment of yoga to more people, thus introducing more of our neighbors to the practice. Couldn’t we do a better job of this if we work together?

I firmly believe that befriending one another and delighting in the growth of our yoga community will create more business for everyone. But more importantly, we can demonstrate through our actions that by loving and treating one another as though we recognize our collective connection and indivisibility, we will be more harmonious, happier, more functional, and more impactful. This will be our true success. 

Living our yoga has to be more than saying “namaste” and drinking green smoothies while we pay lip service to loving everyone. How can we expect shifts to happen in our communities and in our world if we cannot own up to our own insecurities and ego-driven behaviors? Every one of us is human and experiences the full range of emotion, but in yoga we are taught to be aware of our emotions and accountable for how we behave in response to those emotions. We also learn to look at things from the perspectives of others so that we can communicate in ways that create positive relationships and thus a positive environment. 

We are enough. What we have to offer is of value, and people will see that even more clearly without the shroud of jealousy and competition. So, to all you talented, intelligent, inspirational-as-hell yoga leaders out there, the haters may hate, but I’m not one of them. I am in awe of you, happy for you, and I want to be your friend. Let’s all shine together.