Yoga Teacher Ethics – How much Emphasis should be placed on them?

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Yoga Teacher Ethics – How much Emphasis should be placed on them?

yoga certificationBy Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

Why is there a code of ethical conduct for Yoga teachers?

There is a balancing act between integrity and power. Whether we like it, or not, the position of teacher, in any subject, is a position of power. At the same time, Yoga teachers must establish an environment of mutual trust.

This should be easy enough on the surface, but Yoga instructors are only human. In the words of Lord Acton, “All power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority.”

Power can have a narcotic effect, especially if we begin to believe those who praise us. There is nothing wrong with a positive self-image, as long as it is based on reality. The problems with power stem from situations where one cannot keep his or her ego “in check.”

The ego is intoxicated by power. No matter who we are, all of us have a trace of ego. As a Yoga teacher, one is supposed to have developed enough inner awareness to see his or her own weaknesses. Yet, everyone loves to hear praise, receive recognition, and listen to the approval of those around them.

The fact is – every teacher needs a reality check. If a student gives you a compliment, that is a good thing, but put everything in its proper perspective. Almost every teacher has met a student who did not approve of him or her. In this case, should a Yoga teacher respond in kind?

I ask this because we are trained to repel negative energy without violence or anger, but most of us are not trained to handle an over abundance of positive energy, in the form of affection.

As a teacher of Yoga, you are a leader within your classroom environment. To maintain an air of tranquility with your students, and everyone else you meet in life, you should have a balanced approach to all relationships.

In the words of Mohandas Gandhi, “I suppose leadership at one time meant muscles; but today it means getting along with people.” To get along with people, we cannot spend our time worrying about love and hate relationships with our students.

Instead, create a state of inner harmony, so that you are mentally balanced when you encounter the complex emotions of others. No one expects you to be super human, but we all know the guidelines of ahimsa (non-harming). This one guideline tells us to avoid harming others. Consider ahimsa in your classes and outside them, as well.

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