Yoga Teachers Teach, They Don’t Treat

Yoga teachers teach, they don’t TREAT.

I have been saying this for years – your yoga teacher’s 200 hour or 300 hour or 500 hour training does NOT train them to diagnose or treat any conditions – so please don’t ask. It is so tempting to want to step over that line and offer you something, except it could be the wrong thing, and we’re just as trained to know as your accountant.

Here is a quick primer on our scope – if yoga is HURTING you, as in, “wow, my shoulder really hurts in side plank” we are trained to help you do side plank in a way that does NOT hurt you. Or we can recommend alternate poses. 

We can understand the anatomy and physiology of various functions and dysfunctions, and we can help explain them to you. We can teach around a challenging area, or help you breathe through difficult moments, diagnoses. We can teach you how to need less pain medication by using meditation, but we can’t tell you to adjust your dose. 

We can even ease your discomfort as you die.

More importantly, we can be on your team. Whether you’re seeing someone for your depression or your dislocation, we can welcome you to our classes and tell you what fits into your treatment plan. We can remind you or teach you how the body functions, we can explain your treatment provider’s treatment, and we can even suggest a second opinion. But if you’ve taken a training with me you know that my philosophy (from David Swenson) is that YOGA is a HAMMER. It is a tool with equal capacity to heal and break, it is not a magic wand. 

We do not have pixie dust.

We are here to remind you that you’re perfect, you belong, your illusion of separation is simply an illusion. Maybe for you that comes via 75 sun salutations or licking your own ankle, and we’re trained to teach you that. 

We are also trained to help you shift your perspective.

I always say – a good yoga teacher gets you to touch your toes, and a great teacher gets you to release the want. 

And the best teacher doesn’t cross that line – because as tempting as it is to our sweet little egos to do it just this once – just for you – just so we can cure what ails you, all it takes is one teacher wielding her ego like a hammer to destroy the reputation of yoga teachers and close off the path to yoga. Our shared goal as teachers is to bring you back to the mat – to remind you that the tools in the lexicon of yoga are always available to you, no matter what, whether it is my class or someone else’s, my studio or your home studio.

We are here to help you see your injury, your diagnosis, your treatment as a teacher. If we take it away, what will you learn?

That is the real gift of yoga.

Om bolo satguru bhagavan ki.
(originally posted 1/25/2017)

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