After finishing my yoga teacher training with Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy (PRYT), I must honestly say that beneath all the excitement of being a newly certified PRYT professional, lived a subtle level of doubt and intimidation that I had no choice but to confront, head on, if I was going to start teaching an approach to yoga that most of my community knew nothing about. In many ways, I felt like a baby bird being pushed from the safety and support of my training nest, and into the vast and daunting world that lay before me back home. Fortunately, I quickly discovered a set of invaluable tele-courses and material that gave me just the wind I have needed to help me take flight.
Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy’s Foundation Series is a unique and yogic approach to marketing, business, and professional development, created and facilitated by PRYT professional and founder of the International Journal of Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy, Kevin Sharpe. The following is a rich and inspiring interview that captures the essence of how the Foundation Series came to manifest, and how it may be of value for any new or seasoned PRYT professional.
Sarah Bustamante: What was your relationship like with marketing, business, and professional development before Phoenix Rising?
Kevin Sharpe: Honestly, it was pretty selfish. It was all about me – meaning that it was all about my meeting quotas and my meeting numbers and my being able to close deals…which is a rather selfish and, I believe, ultimately unhealthy way to be in relationship, if you could even label it relationship. And then, of course, fear was a big part of the mix, too – fear of not being able to make the numbers, fear of being rejected and being turned down, fear of hearing the word no, fear of failure. Now keep in mind, all that describes my relationship with what I call a very corporate approach to marketing and business and gaining as well as using professional development skills. And it permeated the environment of my job in “corporate America”.
SB: What was your biggest intention behind creating the Foundation Series?
KS: Over the years after becoming certified in Phoenix Rising, I listened to a number of Phoenix Rising colleagues speak about their experiences of taking the work out into their world. In listening, I discovered that there was a consistent thread of frustration and at times disappointment. Now the frustration and disappointment were not about the work, not about Phoenix Rising as a modality; these emotions and feelings often centered around how to find clients and, for some, how to make a Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy practice work for them in their unique communities. I then started to look around at my own experience, and realized that I had grown a Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy practice in my community and in the process (or maybe as a result of) had consciously changed my relationship with marketing, business, and professional development skills. And please keep in mind that when I speak about professional development skills in this context, I’m not talking about gaining professional training in a modality like Phoenix Rising. Rather I’m speaking about a specific set of professional skills that can support Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy practitioners and yoga teachers bring Phoenix Rising into their communities.
My Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy practice was working because I had developed what I call right relationship with these three very essential domains: marketing and business and professional development skills. And so my intention behind creating the Foundation Series was to help Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy colleagues get the work into their communities in a fulfilling way. How? By giving them a very yogic approach to the more traditional or corporate approach to marketing, to business, and to gaining professional development skills.
SB: What is “Right Relationship” and why is it important in marketing, business, and professional development?
KS: In the Foundation Series, we explore different facets of right relationship. We start this exploration in the very first class (Marketing 101) by positing that right relationship is not about us. It is, rather, about the other. More specifically, it is about helping the other. It is about being with the other in a real way, in a clear way. Now the “other” can be a person OR it can be our Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy practice. So from this starting point, we can see two really striking qualities about our working definition of right relationship. It begins with focus on the other, and it must encompass clarity. This pulls directly from several of the Yoga Sutras, in particular Sutra 2 from Book 1. And using that particular sutra as a bridge, we’re also saying, in a very foundational, pivotal, and transformative way, that yoga is what happens when right relationship happens. This is an essential starting point to moving into business and marketing and using professional development skills in what I call a yogic way. And as I always say, it turns the more corporate approach to business and marketing and even professional development upside down.
Of course, we can’t forget that we, too, are one of the parties in any right relationship we have. So we have our own work to do, too, in creating right relationship. But there is always a quality of mutuality involved with it. Right relationship never devolves into selfishness. We can’t even begin to authentically and supportively create right relationship in business or marketing or the use of professional development skills without first journeying into clarity and all the other elements of right relationship that we learn in the other classes of the Foundation Series. So right relationship is not only foundational, it is a running theme that continues to get developed and explored throughout the entire Foundation Series.
SB: I once heard you say that Phoenix Rising is how you do life. Would you mind speaking more about that in regards to how you approached creating the Foundation Series?
KS: It’s true. Phoenix Rising is how I do life. It presents an effective model for me (or anyone) to use in order to live life from a place of inner connection and wisdom. More importantly, how could I practice this modality with integrity if I didn’t integrate it into my life and use it daily? As an aside, anyone who’s interested in understanding how I do that can read the book I Am Here: The Healing Journey of Caregiving. It shows first-hand how I use Phoenix Rising to do life in general as well as in particular in my role as a caregiver. With the Foundation Series, I wanted not only to present a very yogic approach to marketing and business and professional development skills but, in that same spirit of using Phoenix Rising to do life, I wanted to show how Phoenix Rising can be used to do marketing, to do business, and to do professional development.
SB: Is there anything you would like to speak more about regarding the Foundation Series?
KS: The Foundation Series is transformational work. It is a very yogic and very rich way for Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy practitioners and yoga teachers to continue to grow themselves while learning how to grow their Phoenix Rising work in their communities. The six tele-courses that make up the complete Foundation Series build on each other. The result is a comprehensive and, again, a very yogic skill set that really fits in nicely with the sensitivity of our Phoenix Rising community.
To learn more about the Foundation Series and the International Journal of Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy, visit www.ijpryt.com.