By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500
Ethics education and training is an important component of any career. Business students must learn how to ethically do business, when dealing with finances, accounts, and employees. Doctors must understand the ethics of healthcare and serving patients in a way that fulfills a moral obligation. Service providers must be willing to follow a code of conduct to ensure the trust of their clients. When it comes to teaching Yoga, ethics are no exception. Yoga instructors must adhere to certain lifestyle choices, and stick to a code of ethics for teaching.
When you are a teacher of anything, you tend to end up living in a fish bowl of sorts – where everyone watches and judges your actions in and out of class. When there is a contrast in behaviors from what people see inside the classroom, as opposed to outside of it, questions of character arise. Who is this person, really? A Yoga instructor, seen guzzling beers every Friday night at the local bar, for example, will be looked upon differently when teaching class. Yoga teachers, who date their students, are opening up many potential problems. Of course, Yoga teachers are people too, and perfection is not the expectation. However, Yogic philosophy encompasses certain principles for living a balanced life, and it is important for Yoga instructors to make those principles inherent to their lifestyles.
The ethics of Yoga include – treating students with respect, honoring other Yoga teachers, and welcoming all students into the class. Yoga instructors must practice truthfulness in their relationships. They should live a life of integrity and honesty in the classroom and the community. Those of us who choose to become Yoga instructors are obligated to make healthy choices in all aspects of life. Teaching Yoga is more than a job; it is a way of life. It means embracing Yoga’s philosophies at all times. In fact, it is not that difficult to “walk the talk.” Teachers should have no difficulty understanding the Yamas and Niyamas. The Yamas and Niyamas are the guidelines for ethical behavior of all Yoga practitioners – especially teachers.
Ethics education for Yoga teachers makes perfect sense. Whether we like it or not, Yoga students tend to judge their teachers, or have certain expectations for us, to display ethical behavior. When a Yoga teacher meets students’ expectations, it puts students at ease. When a Yoga instructor says or does things that do not meet students’ expectations, they are at risk of losing the respect of students. Ethics education is a crucial component of a Yoga teacher training program. It helps produce well-rounded Yoga instructors who know the importance of living an authentic life.
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