There is no shortage of movies and novels addressing inappropriate relationships between teachers and students. Indeed, it is often a precarious balancing act to establish boundaries in these types of relationships. In the case of the college professor and student or the therapist and patient, the rules are often quite clear.
Yet, the casual atmosphere of the yoga studio can blur the boundary lines between the teacher and his or her students. Remember that in any student/teacher relationship, there is an imbalance of power, but there can be a balance of compassion. This is something that teachers should be aware of in any setting.
The nature of yoga creates a variety of sensitive situations for teachers to approach thoughtfully.
• Advice on Health Related Issues: It is very common for students to ask their yoga instructor for health advice. It may be acceptable to offer information pertaining to a healthy lifestyle, such as diet and exercise habits or recommendations for stress relief, such as meditation or relaxation techniques. However, it is wise to refrain from offering any kind of medical advice to a student with an injury or illness.
• Adjustments: There has been a great deal of media attention surrounding certain well-known gurus accused of sexual harassment. This has shed a light on the sensitive nature of adjustments. It is certainly understood that teachers should pay careful attention when touching another person’s body. Most people enjoy gentle adjustments during a class. Most people don’t enjoy aggressive adjustments. In addition, the instructor should have awareness that many students may be too shy to verbalize their feelings about this.
• Socializing Outside of the Studio: It is common for those who practice yoga and those who teach it to share similar interests. As a student becomes a regular who attends your class a few times a week, it is normal to build a friendship. A request to meet for lunch or join their book club should be fine. Always keep the relationships professional during class time, as you don’t want the other students to feel slighted.
• Personal Attraction/Relationships: Most codes of ethics advise strongly against engaging in romantic relationships with students. If a mutual physical attraction becomes overwhelming, it would be wise to terminate the student/teacher connection before pursuing the relationship.
It is usually prudent to separate our professional and personal relationships. However, there will always be exceptions. Just remember as the teacher, you are the one that has the responsibility of defining the boundaries.
© Copyright 2014 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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