I have often heard the phrase, “that’s not very yoga” used in reference to people’s actions and behaviors (usually the unpleasant ones). We tend to think of yoga teachers and regular practitioners as people who are on a higher, more evolved level of consciousness and existence. Some times that’s true. And the reality is that we are all human beings.
A good friend once told me that the best any of us can do in a day is to attempt to transcend our humanNESS.
All of us have good days and days with struggle. Some days we succeed in letting go of our angers, worries and resentments and we are able to move from a place of goodness and bliss. And then there are the days where we behave in a manner that can be hurtful, to ourselves and to those around us. This is being human.
I have recently experienced some very sad and painful loss of friends, who are yoga teachers and would be considered by many to “know better”. Anger, greed, resentment, blame, shame…these are all forms of fear. As much as a yoga teacher may meditate, practice, teach and even preach the teachings of yoga and a path that’s free from these fears, it is sometimes impossible for that person to transcend their own humanity.
When a yoga teacher behaves badly (a simplified way to describe this), they are often talked about and treated as if they have behaved worse than a non-yoga teacher. Sometimes the yoga community that surrounds that person takes the bad behavior as a personal betrayal and then feels the need to publicly ridicule and tear down that teacher.
This is escalated when it is between two or more yoga teachers. It seems outside people want to make one yoga teacher the victim, and another the villain. Personally, I have been both in the past. I have lost students who decided I was the enemy because I am human and flawed, like the rest. I have lost dear friends and teachers because their actions have hurt me in ways that feel irrevocable. And I have seen dear friends and colleagues go through more public turmoil than say a stock broker or pilates instructor may endure, for being human.
We are all human. I think it’s important for all of us who practice yoga and who have yoga teachers to know this and remind ourselves of this fact on a regular basis.
Every single day, I get up and make the commitment to myself to be willing, honest and do what I can to be a good person and a good teacher. And I am willing to attempt to transcend the less desirable character attributes of myself, and work towards embracing and living in the good qualities. Some days I am a great success. Some days I am a failure.
I won’t presume to speak for other yogis, so I’ll simply offer this about me;
Please know that I am doing the very best that I can for today, given that I am an overly-sensitive, insecure human being. I’m working on it and hope you’ll join me in the work.