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Friday, October 28, 2016
Yoga Instructor Ethics: Staying True To The Truth Of Yoga
By Faye Martins
While there isn't a universal written code for yoga instructor ethics, there are a basic set of moral guidelines that yoga teachers strive to adhere to. Most of them align with the eight limbs of yoga, which are basic principles that all yogis try to stick with in order to lead a full and meaningful life, but there are certainly other ethical standards yoga instructors try to achieve.
This limb focuses on the ethical standards and integrity of a yogi. This is where they will focus on the golden rule ("do unto others as you would have done unto you"). It is also about leading a life that's nonviolent (to oneself and to others) and filled with honesty.
This second limb observes spirituality, and a lot of people often get confused and think that this means they have to attend religious ceremonies to practice this limb. However, experts say that spirituality in regards to the limbs of yoga is merely maintaining a semblance of spirituality. This can include taking a walk at sunset or developing a daily meditation routine. Another part of niyama is to maintain cleanliness. Some people interpret this as personal hygiene, others view it as keeping their living space clean. Some even view this as living "clean" with a good diet and plenty of exercise.
The postures practiced in yoga remind people that the body is a temple to the spirit, and the spirit is what guides us in life. The body must be given special care and discipline in order to cultivate and grow the spirit. The strength and discipline that the asanas give the body are what allow the spirit to settle into meditation.
Yoga teachers admit that while they instruct others, they themselves are merely students, too. A good instructor will acknowledge that there is no time in their yoga practice where they aren't still learning. Whether it's improving their asanas or striving to live a life in a yogic manner, there is always room for improvement. The moment a teacher thinks they aren't a student any longer, they've lost sight of what yoga is truly about.
While teachers can be playful in and out of class, it's important that they maintain professional decorum both in and out of the classroom. There's nothing more detrimental to their yogic way of life than having a student see them outside of class acting unruly, rude, or reckless in public. While their life outside of the studio is their own, it's expected that someone living as a yogi won't need to quell any bad behaviors outside of class.
Instructors should expect to teach and display tolerance towards other yoga teachers, types of yoga, and schools. A Hatha teacher, for example, may not agree with the Iyengar school of teaching, but they respect it and acknowledge that it does suit other students and instructors. If they need to provide criticism in any way, it should always be factual and not personal.
Yoga teachers are generally naturally ethical and moral, and that may be why there's no set code for a yoga instructor to adhere to. However, with a precedent set for ethical behavior, it's important to be aware of yoga instructor ethics and ensure all instructors are staying true to them.
Faye Martins, is a Yoga teacher and a graduate of the Yoga teacher training program at: Aura Wellness Center in, Attleboro, MA.