yoga teacherBy Jenny Park

Ethics and philosophy are covered in every Yoga teacher training intensive, but there is no guarantee an instructor will walk the straight line for life. Yoga is based on a foundation of principles including compassion, integrity, truthfulness, kindness, generosity, patience, forgiveness and helpfulness. The purpose of yogic methods is for students and instructors to learn to live a life that follows these virtues as closely as possible. It makes sense that those who choose to teach yoga would follow the yogic philosophies on a regular basis, incorporating them into their lives whether they are in front of a class or not. There are many ways that a teacher can be lead astray, engaging in activities or attitudes that would be considered unethical teaching practices. 

Letting the Ego Take Over 

It can be considered unethical behavior when a yoga instructor cares more about himself than the students. A teacher with the mindset that he is in front of the class on display for all to admire is letting his ego take over. He has lost all intent to help the students in the poses or to encourage his students to work to the best of their abilities.

Malicious Intent

Another way an instructor can become unethical is to have an intent for teaching the class that doesn’t involve helping to educate students. Perhaps she is only interested in getting paid to practice her regular yoga training session with little interest in the students’ needs. An instructor with an agenda that is contrary to yogic philosophies and beliefs is not serving the community well.

Walking the Talk

An instructor who preaches truthfulness and proceeds to lie to friends and family, or a teacher who teaches the importance of forgiveness but holds a grudge is not living an honest life. Teachers should embrace the values of yoga and live them to the best of their abilities each moment of every day.


Honesty is an important quality in anyone seeking to live according to yogic philosophy. Honesty includes the ability to be honest with yourself as well as others. Yoga teachers who choose to be dishonest are acting unethically. Instructors need to be able to look at their teaching methods and tweak them if they aren’t working or take feedback from students and mentors to heart.

Substance Abuse

It almost goes without saying that teachers must live a healthy lifestyle, free from excessive drug or alcohol use. Students will lose respect and admiration for a teacher who speaks of living a clean, healthy life and later shows signs of the opposite.

© Copyright 2012 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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