Teaching Hatha Yoga – Ethics and Professionalism


Any time you are sitting at the front of the Yoga class, in a teaching capacity, your role must fit comfortably into Yoga teacher / Yoga student relationship guidelines. This concept of “role playing” is a difficult transition for any Yoga intern, regardless of past experience.

It is one thing to make sure you are concentrating on your breath, alignment, mantra, bandhas, or Mudra; but when you teach Yoga, you must focus on a room full of students with separate thoughts. With responsibility, changes come from within you.

Suddenly, the standard of your classes are in question – within your own mind. This is the real issue, within your own mind; your classes may be criticized, but do not criticize yourself in public.

If you have taken the time to develop a lesson plan, and guided a Yoga class from start to finish, do not ask any of your students for criticism. If another Yoga teacher offers some tips, you can always listen and learn, but your students have never taught.

You will also reinforce doubts from your students by asking them for a critique. Many new Yoga teachers go through a “learning curve,” but you do not have to make an announcement. Consider this: Every Yoga teacher, before you, went through the same leaning curve, so learn and avoid “beating yourself up.”

You must avoid self-doubt, and the appearance of self-doubt, when you teach Yoga classes. Learn to separate friendships from professional relationships. This is a “hard line to walk;” especially, if long-time friends are in your Yoga class.

However, you have a mission, a task to perform, and a Yoga class to lead. If you want your classes to be flawless, forget about special relationships during class time. You will be a better Yoga teacher, when you treat everyone the same.

Remember that if you praise one student for something, it would be fair to praise all of your students for something else. Yoga teachers, who take the time to show positive reinforcement to their students, cultivate an atmosphere of positive energy.

When you teach a Yoga class, your mission is “to serve.” The Yoga class is for the student’s benefit. Think about this, from the beginning, to the end, of your class. Be mindful of your words and be careful not to offend anyone.

When your students leave feeling better than when they came in – that is your reward. Do not seek praise; it is the natural product of a good Yoga class.

Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500, 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

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