Recently a NY Times article came out that caused a big commotion in the yoga world. This blog post is not a review of the article by any means but it did stir up some emotions in me and I started thinking about what it means to be a yoga teacher. What a loaded question right?!?
In my opinion, yoga teachers have a responsibility to not only teach yoga asana, but also teach their students how to find their own inner light. YTs do not JUST teach, but also act as a mentor, friend, and supporter of each of their students on his/her path towards peace. On the flip side of the same coin, YTs must maintain a distance from their students in a sense that their students must have freedom for inner exploration. Each student has a different set of issues. Each student needs yoga for differing reasons. And these differences must be respected.
My mentor sent me an email regarding teaching yoga. She wrote,
Teaching is not just about executing a well-sequenced class or imparting what we are feverish about sharing with others – it is about connecting in a deep, but impersonal way to the moment you are sharing and really seeing people without judgement and agenda. It is, in fact, not about us at all. Teaching is service and the reverence for it should humble us and occasionally send a small shiver down the spine.
Her eloquently stated opinion solidified what has been on my mind since the conclusion of YTT; yoga teachers are forever students. No matter how many years you have taught yoga, there is always more to learn. That’s one of the beautiful components of this art/lifestyle/spiritual practice/physical practice/whatever it is for you. Yoga, I sincerely believe, can never be “mastered”.
On a worldly level, yoga has come a long way since its origination and most of the emphasis has shifted from finding enlightenment to connecting the mind with the body and the breath. We live in a world where we seek exercise as a form of stress relief and yoga has become a method of choice that not ONLY relieves stress temporarily but also permanently. Yoga has met us where we are as a society.
|different bodies, different yoga
Whatever your reasons are for doing yoga, it cannot be denied that it is forever evolving, and therefore so must yoga teachers. According to the NY Times article, over 20 million people practiced yoga in 2011 which means teachers must be more careful than ever to not impart their own opinion of the practice but simply act as a catalyst for students’ innate interest in their own practice. We are a being of constant change, whether we like it or not. By adapting and being aware of who we are guiding and by allowing students freedom to find their own way rather than force upon them OUR way simply because it worked for us, I truly believe yoga would cause injury to none (well, except the ego filled students.. but that’s a whole other topic).
Humility is accepting that every student is in fact a teacher.