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Yoga: The New Career Path For Corporate Execs

By: for The Huffington Post on Oct. 3, 2013
World News
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"I sometimes find myself being sort of fidgety, anxious, in a way, that I'm not always rushing to do something. But I tell myself, it's OK to just be still," she says. "This is what I want to do. Figure out what I love, and get paid doing it."

One morning last month, Rebecca Santillo walked out of the television studio where she worked for the very last time.

It’s not that she wasn’t good at her job at WTNH in New Haven, Conn., where she’d been a news producer for seven years. She had long been successful at manning the overnight shift, pulling together segments on routine news and big stories like the Newtown, Conn., shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School last year. And it wasn't the money, which was enough for Santillo and her husband, a self-employed construction worker, to cover bills for their three-bedroom house in Wallingford, Conn. and keep some for savings.

But Santillo, 36, was tired of "never being able to turn off the news," of having to "pretend that the fast-paced life of reporting horrible events everyday wasn't impacting me emotionally."

So on her last day, after producing the morning's traffic and weather segments, she walked out of the two-story, nondescript brick building, drove to the Wallingford Parks and Recreation department, slipped on loose cotton pants and a tank top and entered a classroom to begin her new life in front of a small crowd of eager students: that of an aspiring full-time yoga teacher.

"It's been a big shift, going from crazy busy and full-time to a slower pace and essentially part-time," Santillo says. "I'm struggling with that, but I'd never go back."

As yoga has grown from a relatively unknown spiritual activity with origins in Hinduism to a cultural phenomenon and multi-billion dollar market with 20 million practitioners in the U.S., it has become increasingly possible to make a living from teaching it.

It's hard to know exactly how many yoga teachers there are, but if the rising numbers of Americans who do yoga -- up from 4.3 million in 2001 -- is any sign, teachers, too, are having their moment. When the North American Studio Alliance, an industry group, last crunched numbers in 2005, it found 70,000 people with teaching certificates.

"As more people have gone through the process of practicing yoga, they realize those benefits, want to become more immersed and want to impart that to others," says Bill Harper, publisher of the magazine Yoga Journal. "One way is to pursue teaching."

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