Yoga Teacher Responsibility

by Melissa West on


Today’s question comes from Maya Tiegrah for research she is doing for graduate school. What the Yoga Teachers responsibilities/relation to her students and society?

I think yoga teachers have a huge ethical responsibility to their students and society. Donna Farhi does a fabulous job of discussing this in her book Teaching Yoga: Exploring the Student-Teacher Relationship.

I believe this ethical responsibility begins with our own practice of yoga, meditation and journaling each day, looking after our own backyard so to speak so that we are not taking our own issues into the classroom as much as possible and asking our students to care for us.

Yoga Teacher Responsibility 2Of course the ethical guidelines are beautifully laid out in our yogic texts the Yoga Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita. Following the Yamas and Niyamas. The yamas are the social disciplines and refer to the way we behave in society. Ahimsa – nonviolence, satya – truthfulness, asteya – nonstealing, bramacharya – sexual responsibility (huge in the yoga community), apparigraha (take only what you need). The niyamas are directed towards yourself and just as important sauca- cleanliness, santosha- contentment, tapas – commitment to our practice, svadyaya – commitment to self study, study, isvara pranidhana – surrender to a higher power.

Here is a link to the Yoga Classes I taught on the Yamas and Niyamas: Click Here

The Bhagavad Gita teaches us about the importance of karma yoga, selfless action – action without attachment to outcome. The Bhagavad Gita teaches us how important it is to find out path and do our work – that spiritual life and work are not separate things, but that our responsibility as spiritual beings is to work with our whole hearts without becoming attached to the fruits of our labour.

I think as yoga teachers we have a responsibility to be familiar with these philosophical texts and to integrate them into our lives and bring them to life, really live them in our lives, be a living example of these ancient spiritual teachings to the best of our ability in a humble and real way.

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