Capitalism, “Spice” and why I will teach online yoga for free

A very warm welcome on this grey February morning in 2022, where after three storms (Dudley, Eunice, and today we’re in the tail of Franklin), I am feeling kind of cheeky writing you this.
Thoughts in my head are:
“Can I really do this? Can I just like that, decide to start a free online studio?”
And it goes even further than that, because there’s a WE! 
Can WE, just do that?

We, YouTube lovers, music lovers, perhaps occasional yogis or aspiring yogis but truth be told, we are usually too easily occupied by things far more interesting and enticing to make it to the mat.
Can WE, already in the red when it comes to being civic-minded, take this whole thing about doing things our way and in this case, the whole bit about how yoga is supposed to work, upside down and basically, just wing it?

Ignore we are supposed to neatly organize around a yoga-teacher who has their class schedule all figured out, and who has a proper website where you can see how much it would cost to join in-person classes, or private yoga, and how much to get an online membership-
Can we just bypass that and say: “No thanks! We’re good here.”

I m going to bring it home what’s going to make us unique, but before I do that I have to warn you: 
No one has ever done this.

So before you start yelling “YES!”, “I’m in Suzanne!” “Let’s do this!”, you have to realize that you have no idea what you’re up against.
And, perhaps more disturbingly, neither do I.
I have no idea what we’re going to encounter, and how our Rock Star Yoga Studio is going to pan out.

What I’m inviting you to do with yoga, if you join me, will not so much change the yoga you are doing, or that we are doing, compared to how others have been doing it for decades;
But it has the potential to change your entire life.

Because it isn’t just yoga, that has been on a slippery slope down from capitalist hill, with the occasional entrepreneurial Wunderkind climbing back up, marketing and packaging up their services and absolutely thriving!
It’s not just yoga where we can see this pattern;
It’s every profession that is based on what we call the service industry, which I would label as professions based on work women have done for free for thousands of years.

There is equally much to be said about the role of art, artists, teachers, and philosophers within a capitalist society, but in general they have been more aware or awake that they were not included in capitalism.
That they had to look for patrons, they had to establish their own school of thought if they wanted to get paid. Or they had to in some other way work with the fact that the world did not have a place for their work.

And there is also equally much to be said about the makers, the craftsmen, the people who build everything it is we need as well as the things we desire.
Late 20th century The Netherlands placed all their cards on creating a meritocracy, meaning that professions based on knowledge, or in support of some sort of paper reality, were deemed high-paying jobs that offered security and had status;
And all work based on real skill, was downplayed as being, basically “not what you wanted for your child”.
This was of course a terrible choice, and next to traumatizing and insulting, also unwise and unpractical.
A society where pushing paper is rewarded over real skill, is one where the collapse of civilization has begun. And this was decades ago.

Then, in theory, I could also include how the liberalization of the financial markets in the 80s, as well as the globalization with regard to raw materials and polluting chemical processes needed for our (often luxury) products, as well as the globalization of those same financial markets, has allowed for capitalism to absolutely spin out of control.
By now there is little to no connection between the one who earns money (investment companies, and others operating solely on the financial market such as bitcoin traders) and the ones who add value, or the places in the world that are being used, polluted, and politically destabilized because of traders looting their lands.

I remember being in a discussion which franchise invented the term “Spice” and “Spice trading” first: The Dune books in the 80s or the Star Wars movies which started in the late 70s?
Spice, in these stories, is a highly valuable sand-like dust, traded across the galaxy like drugs, gold, or weapons on earth. Spice trading featured recently in the Star Wars Boba Fett series.
The discussion revolved around whoever was second, Dune or Star Wars, and had stolen the term. But in hindsight, I believe that the story of faraway territories being looted for their Spice, and the trail of violence and corruption that the transport and distribution of it, the whole criminal network surrounding it, leave behind, cannot be told too often.
So what if one franchise was first, and one second. Do tell.

But despite these stories, it’s like we didn’t fully understand, what the consequences of a Spice driven world meant then, in the 80s.
And we still seem to not fully understand what it means now.

What does it mean for a society, and thereby for you as a person deciding how you want to make your money, when value has been dumbed down to being a monetary success?
When real value has no place in our economic system, and you re allowed to exploit, pollute, and make money on the financial markets that are highly energy intensive because of how computer/ server-intensive that trade works – without any costs?

Why would anyone want to become a doctor, a teacher, a cobbler or open a yoga studio; When they could become a bitcoin trader instead, and be a financially thriving member of society?
And as someone with money they are able to help out those around them, and build stable homes from what they make as financial investors.
Far more appealing than having a traditional occupation or being a traditional entrepreneur with a brick and mortar business, for multiple reasons but just recall how during the pandemic real businesses were closed or restricted.
Yet, financial markets thrived.

People working in what we would call high-level professions, have to invest up to 15 years in training, years of hardly making any money, and they have to stay up to date with their industry, and engage in life-long education.
Yet their work is financially less rewarding and far less autonomous, than that of those operating on the financial markets.

Entrepreneurs, brick and mortar businesses, are submitted to government regulation, fees, liabilities, loans, all the hardware and software costs they have to make, in particular if they work on the consumer market; Plus they have monthly costs in rent, inventory, and copious amounts of time and money spent on aspects of the business that do not make any money.
Why would anyone do that, now that we’re living in a world, where you can make the money online?

All good things to know and think about when you think of your local bookshop, your physical therapist, and your local yoga teacher and yoga studio.
Appreciate them, praise them, and if you can, pay them and pay them well, I say.
Be grateful that they showed up to being our boots on the ground and are here to make our communities and our world a better place. 

But I really am, getting ahead of myself.

Because these are all relatively recent developments. And although I think it is important to understand these financial market and internet-driven dynamics, if only to understand how  determined you must be if you insist on having a traditional business or occupation;
What I want to explain, and I touched on this at the beginning of this post, is why teaching yoga and other professions in the service industry, have not been part of the economic system way before the internet or Reaganomics even began.
The problem the service industry faces, is I would not say “of all times”; But it has been around since ancient Greece.

Ancient Greece was already capitalistic because the money was for the few, and the whole system was driven by the larger part of society being excluded from access to the money.
The economy was based on slaves and women doing unpaid labor and and craftsmen worked for modest pay.

In the 60s, women in the Netherlands were fired once they married.
And nurses, to this day, have the lowest higher education salary out of all of them, because their work is so interwoven with women’s work being taken for granted, that even in 2022 they do not have a competitive salary. 

Also at the beginning of this piece, I briefly mentioned that some people in the service industry were savvy enough to ask high prices for their services, and managed to become successful despite being in an industry where people worked for low rates.
I described it as: “the occasional entrepreneurial Wunderkind climbing back up, marketing and packaging up their services and absolutely thriving!”

This is often talked badly about.

An example are the rise of coaches here in The Netherlands, but it’s a worldwide phenomenon. As is the occurrence of people talking badly about these coaches charging high sums of money for their packages, and many coaches not displaying any interest in getting formal education or joining a professional association.

Yet in my opinion, trends like this are merely people stepping out of their unpaid or low paid women’s work narrative, and charging their worth in the same way men have charged theirs.
It’s just that the society at large has been built on the majority of people being underpaid, or not being paid at all.
That s why it stings when, usually online, service providers, who had less or an unknown education make more money, than those who bend over backwards to be trustworthy and registered professionals.

In the battle of the underpaid nurse, as well as the over-qualified, in all probability overly- responsible, professional, versus the rogue entrepreneurs of the (usually) online service industry; 
The first one is bound to their heart, their ethics, their “in what type of world do we want to live in”.
But at the same time they are often bound to “delivering” their work in identifiable units. Doctors are being paid per patient, and the amount of money they get is determined based on one identifiable big medical procedure, or a pre-set course of tests or interventions. To talk, pay attention, look for diy solutions: In The Netherlands it’s usually not what they get paid for.

So back to the coaching industry, or any industry that has their origins in the service industry; Here the identifiable units, traditionally, are also weird and dare I say arbitrary aspects, of ALL that they offer and have to do.
For example: An hour’s work. One yoga class. A 30 minute massage.
All just random outtakes of what used to be something WHOLE and what was traditionally given for free, usually by women.

The big trick capitalism has played on us, is that it has given us the idea that our work, that we want to GIVE from our hearts, first of all NEEDS to be chopped up into identifiable and sellable units; which is a heartless, soulless, criminal act to begin with for sure.
But it gets worse: Because it has also convinced us that it is normal to do that, AND that we, as professionals, working from one “neatly cut-out and paid- for” unit to the next, will become valued and fully functional members of society, by being independent health care workers, independent coaches, independent yoga teachers.
When we’re not.

Not unless you are willing to fall in love with marketing, move away from the humble majority of your industry and at the risk of being cast from it, and start selling high-end packages and solutions instead.
If you re ready to tear the idea of the identifiable, sellable unit of your industry to shreds, make your own rules instead and charge whatever the hell you please?
Then yes.
You have beat capitalism, and you have done it, in my opinion, in the most gracious, serving, and inspiring way imaginable.
You have cast the yoke of your industry.

If I had known this, 20 years ago when I started my yoga business;
I would have chosen differently than to “just do” what was common for a yoga teacher to do. Right then most yoga was taught in community centers and yoga teachers earned very little money. It also didn’t have a great amount of energy behind it. 

If I had understood the background of “women’s work” within capitalism, and the possibilities of marketing for our industry, I would have gone what was then in The Netherlands, absolute the rogue, entrepreneurial route.

I would have been excited to build a modern, colorful studio with back to back classes and a vibrant community!
We’d have international guests, teacher trainings, and so on, but more than that our common ground would be a feeling of belonging and identity.

And it is this vision…did you feel it? 
Did you feel it coming to live when I wrote it out for you?
Did you feel the excitement of such a thing?

Because it is this vision, that has inspired me today, to commit to the 2022 equivalent of what would have been a turn-of-the-century modern yoga studio.

I want the community.
I want the comradery.
But I am choosing to say No to the idea of “me” being the entrepreneur, and “you” the one who is a consumer. Object, subject, service provider, client;
We’re not going to base our relationship on money or capitalism because that has a history of thousands of years of keeping people small and trapped in a system that was never built to let them thrive.

You and me; We both live under the threat of our version of Spice trade destroying the world we live in. We both have to choose how we are going to deal with that, and I think you and me starting off with some identifiable, sellable unit from me to you, should not be the start AND should not be an endgame either.

I think we should just be together, on my YouTube channels, on my blogs. And you pay me when you want to, and if you don’t that’s fine too.
But if we start off as having some kind of business arrangement, we’re going to fall in the same traps as all the generations who came before us.
So let’s not do that.

Let’s start simple, let’s start small.
And most importantly:
Let’s start in freedom.

Suzanne L. Beenackers

NEW: Rock Star Yoga Studio

I will start making yoga videos this week.
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