Angry Aggressive Yoga Teachers

I have been working on a thoughtful and academically grounded piece on yoga teaching and yoga teaching institutions– still to come. But yesterday I witnessed a conversation that made me want to jump ahead of myself and say very clearly: hey yoga practitioners, let’s stop tolerating aggressive yoga teaching! 

I was preparing to teach my Monday night class and listening to a conversation I have heard versions of since 2000 when I immersed myself in the study of yoga. The group of students had attended a workshop over the weekend with a well known and upper level teacher. They were oscillating between saying things like “I really learned a lot about X, Y, Z.” And “I couldn’t believe the way he spoke to X.” There was a lot of discontent about the way these students experienced the teacher and his treatment of those present. I heard this, but I also heard a sort of “we have to accept this because this is who he is and he knows so much” thing happening too.

I did not attend the workshop or ask for details so I can’t speak to the details of this particulr workshop, teacher, etc.. But I do want to say that while we need to keep educating yoga teachers about how to be more compassionate, mindful, trauma sensitive, and reflected, perhaps we also need to mobilize as a community and stop tolerating disrespectful, rude, inappropriate yoga teaching, even if the teachers are upper level, holders of much information about the practice we love.

We need to start a movement. We need to print t-shirts and badges and wear them to classes;” Yoga Teachers Be Nice! “or “I expect respect.”  It’s 2013; why do we tolerate this? No one needs to leave a yoga class feeling smaller, less important, humiliated, or shamed. We need to commit to not signing up for classes that make us feel smaller. Let’s support one another to walk out. Let’s hold one another and all teachers  accountable to being kinder transmitters of knowledge!

© Traci Childress, 2013.

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