Dear Yoga Teachers: It’s Not About You (unless it is)

This week has been chock full of the sorts of typical annoyances I’ve come to expect as a privileged white woman: a pricey and fruitless trip to the vet, an electrocuted boyfriend, a check engine light, and greeting neighbors and the local fire department while soapy, wet, and balancing precariously on a swiveling, leather stool while frantically fanning the smoke detector.

Just another week around here.

My tendency in circumstances where I feel powerless is to take everything personally. The upside of that one, is that my therapist appointment was a cry-fest, so I do feel she earned her keep on that one. 

To be clear – I’m happy to leverage credit in the direction of my dear friend, my veterinarian, who I have known for 20 years in a variety of circumstances. I’m grateful that my dog did not require surgery. And? I’m Very Mad At Her.

The bf is fine(ish) proving once again that the body is resilient AND there may be a reason Chinese made manufacturing equipment is less expensive than American made.

And the fire fighters. Well. They don’t fight steam.

The aggregate effect of these annoyances is that I’ve become chippy, and This Is Not The Week to instigate my opinion in a closed Facebook group, because I will Let You Have It.

I am SO tired of articles and conversations describing how terribly terrible it is that White Women use the term Namaste in the teaching of yoga classes. I’m glad we’re talking about the differences between acculturation and cultural appropriation, but also?

MANY MANY POWERFUL, MALE YOGA TEACHERS OF VARIOUS SKIN COLORS ARE RAPING THEIR STUDENTS AND NOT BEING HELD ACCOUNTABLE.

Shall I say it louder?

The house of yoga is ON FIRE as many of us wake to the atrocities carried out by teachers we have adored or revered or learned from. Namaste? Is slightly dripping plumbing.

The house is on fire.

Really truly thoughtful people are reaching out to me in droves to understand and unpack the use of the word namaste. Is it really offending people so much that they stop yoga videos before the dreaded word? That they throw up in their mouths at the end of a yoga class? That they are shirking the entire deep well of teachings in lieu of Crossfit??


I honestly cannot care about this right now, except that it frightens me that so many teachers are being shushed.

You don’t get to say Namaste unless you are of Hindu or Indian origin.

But also, if you don’t say it, you are white-washing the teaching of yoga.

So sit down and shut up, white girl.

Maybe I’m linking the unrelated, but I strongly believe that the culture of SIT DOWN AND SHUT UP is what led to so many people living with heinous treatment from their teachers. Cult-like silence surrounding predatory sexual behavior, assault, and rape.

So?

Dialogue about any and all words, teachings, and approaches. Talk about it, a lot. If you are in a position of power and privilege, ask yourself whose voice is not represented in your conversation and pass the mic.

And also? 

Please be sure that the teachers in your lineage know that it is not reasonable to exchange your sexual energy or acts for teaching. Teachers do not have sex with their students.

Full stop.

If a teacher manipulates or coerces you, telling you that your energy is special and powerful, telling you that they can heal you, telling you that they are drawn to or captivated by you, it is not true. If there is any implication that sex is a requirement for achieving a level of training or notoriety, it should be clearly outlined on the course curriculum and website, and yes, I’m serious. 

A respectable teacher who feels a true connection with a student ends the teacher/student relationship before pursuing romance or sex.

A respectable teacher does not have sex with their students.

Before you start to address the subtle aspects of your lineage and teaching (aka which word best ends a practice), please make sure your fellow teachers are neither predators or prey and open a dialogue about that.

Namaha = “It’s not about me” 

(unless it is)

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