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Friday, 30 September 2011

A Note for Yoga Teachers

Don't take anything personally.

At one point or another we all decided to become a teacher of yoga ultimately because there is, within us, a desire to help and an interest in healing. A desire to serve. A wish to assist others in feeling better.

But if you are a teacher of yoga, it's good to remember that many people come to yoga because they are seeking change. Whether consciously or unconsciously, there is a longing for transformation. For some - it is merely physical. They begin attending classes to deal with their injured or stressed-out bodies. For others, they're battling depression, loneliness or seeking relief from anger and the toll that non-forgiveness eventually takes on one's health and well being.

Change is not always easy. Natural, yes. Necessary, yes. But not always easy. Yoga classes can sometimes push our buttons in ways we never imagined. I always say that "yoga will bring you face-to-face with your own psychology". So, sometimes, as Yoga Teachers we must learn to truly remain patient, compassionate and open to our students, (did I mention patient?) We may, sometimes, become the recipient of their resistance as their buttons are gently pushed.

I recently had a very interesting phone call from a former student. This woman had purchased a series of classes at a discounted rate nearly 9 months ago. Because of the discounted rate there was clearly a date which all the classes had to be used by. The woman was calling because she wanted to attend the fall classes but her class card had expired. Her tone was harsh, defensive and extremely rude. (Not exactly the way to open a conversation whereby you are asking for something...) I calmly explained that the expiry date was there for a reason but that I would happily honor 5 out of the 10 remaining classes left on her card. This woman then launched into a rant about how she runs a business and works 7 days a week and couldn't possibly come to yoga with all this busy-ness and I should be more accommodating and blah blah blah. Interesting, I thought, I also run a business and I also work 7 days a week. I calmly explained that I understood however, I was not responsible for getting her to yoga class. How could I be? If you pay for classes, the rest is up to you.

Most of the time - people will think only of themselves and how to get their own desires met. As Yoga Teachers we are taught differently, and I believe part of our job is to help others view things beyond just themselves and their own desires/dramas/demands. This woman seemed to have forgotten that the money she paid for her classes (over 9 months ago) went towards the rental of the space, insurance costs, advertising, paying substitute teachers, gas and mileage costs on my vehicle and also my own time/energy, among many other expenses that arise. Her intention, it seemed, was to just find an outlet for the anger that seemed to be increasing as the conversation went on. Again, I offered to honor half of the classes left on her card.

Abruptly, she hung up. Huh. Interesting.

So I continued on with my day and when she didn't come to class the next morning I have to admit I wasn't surprised. Later that evening I found a message on my phone from the same woman. She informed me (in the same harsh angry tone) that she felt "we didn't have a connection" and that she "didn't like my attitude and will not be coming back." Again, she abruptly hung up. Huh. Interesting.

Sometimes, as Yoga Teachers, we will be placed in situations where we are expected to just say 'yes, of course. whatever you say. whatever you want.' However it's important to realize saying Yes all the time to everyone's demands doesn't serve you or your business. And in the long run, it doesn't serve your students either. Again, it comes back to the practice of Satya, Truthfulness. Being real vs. being nice. Let's face it, part of the training and practice of yoga is not only discipline but also learning to take responsibility for oneself. Learning that it is always us, ourselves, who are responsible for our own happiness and satisfaction.

The next day - 2 new students registered in place of Ms Nasty.
Huh. Interesting.

" Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured. "B.K.S. Iyengar

Yoga Teachers: You won't please everyone. It's impossible. Not everyone will "feel a connection" with you. And that's ok. There are plenty of teachers around. In fact it's good practice to learn who those other teachers are and what their strengths are so that you can send students to them if they are better suited. I do that often.

Ms Nasty: I wish you love, gentleness and kindness on your journey. May you find what you are looking for. May you be happy.

Om Shanti. Jaya Ganesha!

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