Dear Yoga Teacher,
Please stay humble. With your title comes great responsibility. And, the tender sprouts that are your students look up to you. The scales of power and authority are inherently stacked in your favor. So, please do not take advantage of that. You may have acquired more “knowledge” than your students. But an effective teacher must REMAIN a student...of yoga and of life because the learning NEVER ends. You may hold the title of teacher, but you have not ARRIVED at greatness or mastery. You have chosen a path of SERVICE - to lead, to guide, and to EMPOWER others.
Please do not dangle your knowledge over your students like some sweet fruit that they have yet to taste. Do not speak of yoga as if it were some special club to which only a few who practice long enough and hard enough belong. And, please don’t subscribe to the hierarchal structure of power (deeply rooted in yoga’s history) that continues to perpetuate the misuse and abuse of that same power. And if your version of the history and tradition of yoga doesn’t include its sordid past, then you aren’t honoring the truth of yoga. No allegiance or loyalty should blind us to the systemic, physical and sexual abuse that still pervades yoga, its teachings and its practice. And let’s agree that no one who abuses that power is beyond reproach.
And, please dear teacher, admit that SO MUCH of what you learn from books, from experts, and from the world wide web is up for interpretation and debate. And be brave enough to welcome that discourse! Seek the opinion of others who see things differently than you. Stay CURIOUS and open to changing your mind. Remember there is no ONE way, RIGHT way, or SPECIAL way to “do” yoga. There are many different paths of yoga, and many different roads that can lead one to his or her direct experience of the SELF.
Gently guide your students on the INWARD path. Teach them that they do not have to look outside of themselves for authority and expertise. Encourage them to trust the inherent wisdom within that’s eager to shine the bright light of AWARENESS on all things. Implore them to question people like yourself - people in positions of power. Do not speak of TRUTH as if you were the bestower. Truth is not some object to be found, or the “right” answer to some question we seek. Truth is what IS my friend. It is not up for debate.
And, I know you mean well. I know you’ve worked hard to get those numbers and letters behind your name. But, remember it’s not about YOU. Let’s not forget that the same embodied wisdom you have acquired is also available and accessible to your students, the very moment they CHOOSE to look inside themselves and learn from their own direct experience.
So, please dear teacher...share YOUR yoga humbly. Encourage your students not to BELIEVE anything, but to see for themselves what’s true. Teach them to honor their own experience, and to think critically. Help them to integrate and assimilate those teachings that resonate, and give them the freedom to discard what doesn’t. And, most importantly INSPIRE them. Live your yoga in such a way that you inspire them to REALIZE for themselves the true, fundamental nature of the SELF.
Yours in humility,