A yoga teacher is traditionally held in high esteem as they spend years learning and then practicing what yoga is. Traditionally yoga was taught orally, the principles communicated in sutra style in brief outlines and then expanded upon verbally. The teacher then has the task of explaining and discussing this with their students.
where the postures, or asanas played a small role,
instead it was viewed as spiritual and led to self realisation.
Because teachers are held in such high esteem, students often glorify their teachers. After all, teachers are supposed to set the example and lead the way, but often this is not the case. Do not confuse yoga teaching with that of a yoga teacher! A yoga teacher or a studio owner is still a person, which means they are still fall victim to wrongdoing. Over the years I've witnessed, experienced and also heard horror stories of bad behaviour. Studio owners who go through peoples phones in the studio to try find out gossip and information, owners who watch their teachers on the studio cameras at home, making sure nothing goes missing and monitoring their every move instead of being at the studio in person and helping out, those who ask their teachers to send students credit card and bank account details over picture and text messages because they're too lazy to go to the studio and handle it the correct way. Teachers are also jealous of others who do better, but instead of learning from them and finding ways to further their own teachings, they tell their students the opposite information in class, like 'there's no scientific proof that alignment matters, you just do what you feel like', or turn a blind eye to mistakes or bad form which can lead to injury. How can this be yoga and lead to self enlightenment?
These teachers are sometimes the most vocal about themselves and their teaching skills, and part of it comes down to insecurity and the need to feed their ego. They have to keep telling themselves they're doing the 'right thing'. They dress the part and often talk about yogic life and karma and chakras like it's something one can do a weekend course and become the all knowing... Instead they've made it all about their ego and what makes them feel powerful and in charge. These teachers have convinced themselves that changing the yoga or adapting it to what they personally want or can or can't do is being open to the universe when traditionally the yogic practice was quite disciplined and you had to be the one to change everything in order to reach a spiritual and meditative state in the rising and expansion of self consciousness.
A wise teacher once said in my teacher training:
'you're not a cheerleader up on the podium...'
Therefore just because someone calls themselves a yoga teacher, don't assume they're going to be a shining example and automatically someone to look up to. Take the time to get to know them personally; watch their actions and their behaviour, how they treat those around them and most importantly, how they treat others when no one is looking. Hold off on glorifying these teachers and putting them on a pedestal until they've proven themselves to be true yogis who believe in right action. Don't just think that someone who can say 'namaste' and tell you to 'let go and take it as it comes' are truly at peace with themselves. If you come across a teacher behaving badly, stop going to their class and excusing their actions, it just enables them to keep on behaving badly. Yoga teachers SHOULD work hard and prove themselves, after all, they've chosen to work in a field where they teach, educate and inspire.
Take the time to find studios owners and teachers who inspire those who walk through the door, and work tirelessly to provide a safe haven for their students. These are the teachers who work to motivate and love their students, take the time to know each individual and their bodies and support the process of change. These are real teachers who are passionate about what they do, and they become yogic through their actions and way of life, rather than through what they tell people and their outer appearance and displays. They never get bored by their teaching and happily dedicate time and effort to expand their knowledge to further their own practice and their teaching. As limited as they are, these are the beacons of light in a society where staying true and humble is a rare thing.
If you're a teacher, then take responsibility for your actions. Everyone has a choice, and if you choose to be a yoga teacher, then choose to take responsibility for your actions, choose to rein in the ego, choose to better yourself before you tell others what to do and above all choose to
the goal of yoga is yoga itself -
a humble self learning and awakening journey to discover a better version of yourself,
to bring about a profound transformation in the person through the transcendence of the ego