Elevator Pitch for Yoga

In the consulting world there’s a term called the “Elevator Pitch”.
Imagine you’re standing in an elevator. When the doors open, someone walks in. You glance at his face. Suddenly, you realise this is someone really important. For the next 30 to 60 seconds, it’s just you and him in that tight space. You now have the chance of a lifetime to sell him an idea, a product or a service. How would you summarize your thoughts? What’s the most interesting pitch you can make in that short ride?
When the doors open, is he keen to find out more? Have you won him over or lost him forever?
The Elevator Pitch came to mind a couple of weeks ago when we started lesson planning for beginners.
At that time Master Satya had a suggestion: “Tell the students your name, and give a quick introduction about Yoga.”  That “quick introduction” turned out to be surprisingly challenging.
A number of us stuttered and stumbled, as we got increasingly tangled in our thoughts and words.
How do you explain to students that what they normally equate with Yoga is actually just the Asanas, and Asanas are just one of the eight limbs of Ashtanga Yoga (some of them might even ask “what do you mean by ‘limb’)? Do you tell them about all the other limbs? Or is that too esoteric for a layman, especially if he’s just looking for some exercise? If Yoga is not a form of exercise, what is Yoga?
How do you compress the meaning of Yoga into a 60-second soundbyte that is:
–          Reasonably accurate
–          Accessible to the layman
–          And better yet, intriguing (so that students will be motivated to find out more)
I realised then how important it was to sort out my personal understanding of Yoga. Aside from students, there will surely be other instances in conversations with friends and even strangers, where I’ll find myself facing a casual question of “so, what’s this Yoga you’re doing?”. And they won’t be expecting a long answer, that’s for sure.
After some thought, here’s my attempt (tailored for a class intro):
“What you normally see in studios and exercise classes are actually known as ‘Asanas’, which means postures or poses held in a comfortable and steady manner. This is just one aspect of the practice of Yoga. But Yoga is not just about physical activity.
In Ashtanga Yoga, there are eight aspects in total. Aside from Asanas, there are breathing techniques to help regulate our prana or life energy. We call this Pranayama. There’s also mediation or Dhyana, philosophy and guidelines on ethical conduct. Practising Yoga will improve our self awareness and help us to confront our inner selves with honesty. It addresses our physical, mental and spiritual health as a whole [I won’t go into detail here, but for those interested in finding out more, we can discuss after class] Our focus today is on Asanas – the physical postures. Asanas improve our physical health and ability to concentrate.  As we go into each pose, we become more aware of our body, we recognise our individual abilities and limitations. With regular practice, we gain more strength, stamina and flexibility.  Asanas can also benefit blood circulation, internal organs, hormonal glands and the nervous system. When we have a healthy body, it forms a good foundation for mental and spiritual health.”
There’s no right or wrong answer. I’m sure every individual would have his or her own interpretation.
So what’s your Elevator Pitch for Yoga?
– Laurel