Dear Yoga Teachers,
I want to start off by saying thank you so much for all you do within your community and our world. Being a yoga teacher is no joke and is seriously hard work. Unlike many other jobs, we can’t turn off at the end of the day. We chose to be teachers and we also chose to live this lifestyle
This isn’t to say you can’t drink a few margaritas on your birthday, curse during the football game, or get angry at your mother but it is to say that you chose this lifestyle. You chose a lifestyle where you’re always ON in the community, you’re aware of your actions, your body and more importantly your words.
There has been a general buzz in the community, both online and in person that has me feeling a bit irked, however and I want to bring it up to you. I have been witnessing other teachers judge people on social media.
The problem that I have with this recent judgement of others on social media sites and through others “not walking the walk” is that perhaps they are. Perhaps when they are on the other side of the lens, they teach yoga classes with HEART and SOUL. They know the 8 limbs of yoga inside out and backwards and they are learning Sanskrit on the side. As is often the case, their lives are likely much deeper and more intricate than that 15 second video or beautiful capture of asana in the perfect light. At the moment, that is where they feel perfect.
Yoga is for everybody. Yoga is a practice that is open and accepting. It allows you to be free and loving without judgment. As teachers, it is our job to support and to create a safe space. THAT IS A PART OF OUR JOB.
To judge someone for their physical asana, be it bad or beautiful isn’t necessarily judging them based on their true selves. (And we shouldn’t be judging anyone in the first place!) This is especially true if we don’t know them. We so often judge people who are famous on Instagram and yet we know nothing of their path or their past. We know not where they came from in the world of yoga, how long they have practiced or what their true yogic beliefs are!
Perhaps this is their introduction to yoga, their small push into this world. As Iyengar said: “Yoga is a light, which once light will never dim. The better your practice, the brighter the flame” And yes, this digs much deeper than asana… but what if for
some most the physical practice is their beginning. ASANA is the striking of their match.
Lauren is a beautiful example, as is Jo. These two yogis have a following on Instagram and have created a beautiful example of physical asanas to look at and be in awe over. Joanna in particular is always crediting her Iyengar and restorative practices while asking others to remain aware and safe in their practice. When modeling a pose, she offers modifications and always stresses safey within beauty. She has been practicing for YEARS and digs deeper into the true nature of what yoga really means. Her challenges are gentle, kind and loving. You can feel her teaching so much more than just a pose through the camera lens.
I understand where many teachers are coming from recently, I really do. They are upset that the way yoga is translated in the west isn’t what the true meaning of yoga really is. As westerners we have taken a beautiful and meditative spiritual practice and created a fitness regime. It’s heartbreaking at best when not a single Indian woman or man is on the cover of Yoga Journal. I get it.
But we shouldn’t judge others. We have NO idea where they have been, what there path is or who they are in their real everyday lives. We as teachers need to give them the same space and love we would give our own students.
What can we do instead?
Nurture. love. Check in on people and send them love. Perhaps there is a quote, a book or a HUG that we could give them in order to brighten their day. Perhaps it’s a smile, a bit of distance reiki and positive vibes.
At the end of the day, it isn’t up to us to determine who is walking their path and who is not. It is not up to us to determine or judge. But it is up to us to create a community, to create LOVE, wholeness and a sense that this world is going in the right direction. This world is going to be held within the envelope of yoga love.
This world deserves more than judegement.
What it deserves is more hugs.
Everyone is walking their own path just as you walk yours. Maybe it’s time that you left them a fun comment on Instagram or introduce yourself to get to know them better or learn about their journey!
**This is a really new, hot button topic in the yoga community. How much social media is too much? How often do we promote our classes? What path is the one for us? It’s a journey and an exploration as our world changes and moves and begins to shape itself into a new way of being. Who knows where judgement and yoga will be in 100 years!
If you would like to join in the conversation, I welcome comments below… but let’s be kind and gentle to one another as we question and explore this path together.
Get out there — do yoga & make life SPARKLE!
I don’t know a lot about yoga, but have a dear friend that has used it as a spiritual practice for many years. What I DO know about the yoga lifestyle is that it is yet another way to connect to the divine within each of us. As for the judgment you speak of; let us not cast stones at anyone for we don’t know the path another has walked or is walking. Instead let us send waves of love and light to all beings. Namaste…<3
Thank you Belinda for your love and wisdom. I appreciate the comments. It’s true that yoga is a spiritual practice and this is how I view my practice on most days. The asanas (poses) I use as an expression of the divine and am interested in hearing others viewpoints. As for the judgment it breaks my heart and I wanted to address it to the community at large! Thank you for the love. Xo
It’s people like you Jennifer that bring people like me to understand Yoga. If you weren’t talking about it and it’s numerous benefits both spiritual and physical, I don’t believe I would have ever tried it.
So for that, Thank you and keep shining your light xx
what a beautiful post, jenny. thank you for writing it. we are all striving to be the very best we can be and, sometimes, we fall short. judging others for their stumbles is unfortunately easy to do, but can be rather awkward when the mirror is turned back on ourselves. i love your message about supporting each other on our individual journeys, keeping things positive.