The journey of becoming a yoga teacher.
This weekend in Darren’s class, we learned about the shadow sides of some of those who have contributed the most to the field of yogic practice. Many of them breached the ethics of a yoga teacher and guru, which then proceeded to cast a negative stigma on the whole profession.
The question for us as future yoga teachers is, how do we separate the wheat from the chaff? Can we respect these teachers for their positive contributions while not condoning their negative behavior?
It’s the questions we have to ask about our politicians as well. Do we discard JFK’s actions on civil rights because of his extramarital affairs? Do we discard Thomas Jefferson’s contributions to the creation of the Constitution because he owned slaves and allegedly, had an affair with one of them?
We are all spiritual beings having a human experience, and as such, we are all susceptible to succumbing to our shadow sides. Those in the public eye have to deal with the fallout publicly. And, it’s really about how they react and if they own their mistakes and learn and grow from them.
It is hard to believe some of the comments of Bikram Choudry, however, like when he allegedly said, “Sometimes having an affair (with students) is the only way to save someone’s life.” He said students blackmail him, claiming they will commit suicide if he doesn’t sleep with them. This seems best handled by professional counseling rather than breaking the teacher/student code of ethics.
Ultimately, it is up to each of us to grow our awareness through our yoga practice of responsibility to self and others. Yoga also helps cultivate compassion and forgiveness so we can be more forgiving of ourselves and others for being human. Through our practice, we also step into our power, so we are comfortable asserting ourselves, if necessary, against any violations we see.
This brings me to one of the poses we focused on this weekend – hero’s pose. In the West, we have a tendency to put our heroes up on pedestals, tear them down, and bet on the success of their comebacks. This cycle tends to repeat itself over and over in politics, pop culture and reality TV. It may be naive to think the world of yoga is immune from this.
As we recline into hero’s pose, it’s a good position to contemplate why our society needs heroes and if it’s even possible to be a hero without taking a fall. The ascension and decline of a hero seems like the inevitable duality that we are all trying to transcend.