Dear Yoga Teachers,
I want to start off by saying thank you so much for all you do within your community and our world. Being a yoga teacher is no joke and is seriously hard work. Unlike many other jobs, we can't turn off at the end of the day. We chose to be teachers and we also chose to live this lifestyle
This isn't to say you can't drink a few margaritas on your birthday, curse during the football game, or get angry at your mother, but it is to say that you chose this lifestyle. You chose a lifestyle where you're always ON in the community, you're aware of your actions, your body and more importantly your words.
There has been a general buzz in the community, both online and in person, that has me feeling a bit irked, and I want to bring it up to you. I have been witnessing other teachers judge people on social media.
The problem that I have with this recent judgement of others on social media sites "not walking the walk" is that perhaps they are. Perhaps when they are on the other side of the lens, they teach yoga classes with HEART and SOUL. They know the eight limbs of yoga inside out and backwards, and they are learning Sanskrit on the side. As is often the case, their lives are likely much deeper and more intricate than that 15-second video or beautiful capture of their perfect asana in the afternoon light. At that moment, they feel perfect.
Yoga is for everybody. Yoga is a practice that is open and accepting. It allows you to be free and loving without judgment. As teachers, it is our job to support and to create a safe space. That is a part of our jobs.
To judge someone for their physical asana, be it bad or beautiful, isn't necessarily judging them based on their true selves. (And we shouldn't be judging anyone in the first place!) This is especially true if we don't know them. We so often judge people who are famous on Instagram, and yet we know nothing of their path or their past. We know not where they came from in the world of yoga, how long they have practiced or what their true yogic beliefs are.
Perhaps this is their introduction to yoga, their small push into this world. As Iyengar said: "Yoga is a light, which once light will never dim. The better your practice, the brighter the flame." And yes, this digs much deeper than asana, but what if for some the physical practice is their beginning. Asana is the striking of their match.
I understand where many teachers are coming from recently. They are upset that the way yoga is translated in the West isn't what the true meaning of yoga really is. As Westerners, we have taken a beautiful and meditative spiritual practice and created a fitness regimen. It's heartbreaking at best when not a single Indian woman or man is on the cover of Yoga Journal. I get it.
But we shouldn't judge others. We have NO idea where they have been, what their path is or who they are in their real, everyday lives. We as teachers need to give them the same space and love we would give our own students.
So what can we do instead?
Nurture. Give. Breathe. Check in on people and send them love. Perhaps there is a quote, a book or a HUG that we could give them in order to brighten their day. Perhaps it's a smile, a bit of distance reiki and positive vibes.
At the end of the day it isn't up to us to determine who is walking their path and who is not. It is not up to us to determine or judge. But it is up to us to create a community, to create love, wholeness and a sense that this world is going in the right direction. This world is going to be held within the envelope of yoga love.
This world deserves more than judgement; what it deserves is more hugs.
Everyone is walking their own path just as you walk yours. Maybe it's time that you left them a fun comment on Instagram or introduce yourself to get to know them better or learn about their journey.
This is a really new, hot button topic in the yoga community. How much social media is too much? How often do we promote our classes? What path is the one for us? It's a journey and an exploration as our world changes, moves and begins to shape itself into a new way of being. Who knows where judgement and yoga will be in 100 years.
If you would like to join in the conversation, I welcome comments below... but let's be kind and gentle to one another as we question and explore this path together.