There seems to be a stereotypical view of what a Yoga teacher should look like. Worse yet, there seems to be a preconceived notion about what a Yoga teacher should weigh. There are many reasons for this – Athletes, doctors, and exercise instructors are expected to be slim and trim. Hatha Yoga teachers are also expected to be role models of good heath.
This type of thinking will not change, but we can make the public aware that stereotypes are often wrong. Most of the adult population in the West is overweight. Some Yoga teachers also fall into this category.
Many adults can identify with the daily struggle at the plate and on the scales. Does this mean a person should go through a “weigh in,” before deciding to become a Yoga teacher?
Consider this: Any style of Yoga causes lifestyle changes. Yoga students, and Yoga teachers, make gradual changes that result in weight control. These are not the changes of “instant gratification” that we are so familiar with.
We are not talking about, “Losing 30 pounds in 30 days.” The many “Yo-Yo” diets and weight loss pills can make those promises, but at what cost to your overall health? Life endangering weight loss products are a waste of money and an insult to your intelligence.
Then again, teaching most people to drink more water, eat more fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, and whole grains is not as easy as showing them the “new ultimate diet pill.” The Yogic diet has been around for thousands of years, so it’s “old news.” Remember the saying, “Out with the old, and in with the new?”
People fall for the “new and improved,” more than old and proven methods, until the hard data comes in. This is why people, who said Hatha Yoga was just another fitness fad, were terribly misinformed.
Yoga was around long before the Shaolin temple, and Yoga influenced the health maintenance of the Shaolin priests. Kung Fu was then created within the Shaolin temple, but the relationship to Yoga is still apparent.
The exposure of Yoga to the West is only centuries old, but the Pilates method is one more example of a “Hatha Yoga spin off.” This is not meant with disrespect toward any health maintenance system, but most of them have origins in Yoga.
In the West, Yoga teachers have a responsibility to be role models for physical health. Therefore, if an obese Yoga teacher lost weight at a safe rate, that is a good thing. A Yoga teacher who takes positive action is a good role model; especially, since Yogic dieting methods are sensible, safe, and proven, in comparison to the many fad diets that come and go.
Over the years, I have seen people lose weight from a Yogic lifestyle change, but it is a very gradual process. Lifestyle changes, like Yoga, also result in weight loss that stays off.
Getting back to an obese person becoming a Yoga teacher; does the public feel that he or she should go on a diet first? We are all guilty of classifying and itemizing, until it affects our perception of reality. Tolerance is a daily challenge for all of us.
There are many good Yoga teachers who carry a few extra pounds due to any number of different reasons. The idea that a Yoga teacher should only be a young, thin, very flexible, super model, with a background in gymnastics, is a pure myth.
Paul Jerard is a co-owner and the director of Yoga teacher training at: Aura Wellness Center, in Attleboro, MA. http://www.riyoga.com He has been a certified Master Yoga teacher since 1995. To receive a Free e-Book: “Yoga in Practice,” and a Free Yoga Newsletter, please visit: http://www.yoga-teacher-training.org/index.html