By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500, YACEP
You live in a fishbowl when you are a Yoga teacher. Whether you realize it or not, people in the community are watching you. They notice how you interact with your students during class, they take note where you appear on Friday night, and they glance into your cart when they see you in the grocery store. This is not necessarily a negative thing, but something Yoga teachers need to be aware of so they can uphold a positive image. Yoga instructors must possess a strong set of ethics, in order to gain the trust and respect of their students and the local community.
Ethics are core values that travel with you wherever you go. There are as many ways to teach a Yoga class as there are individuals teaching them. Yoga instructors have a responsibility to each student in the class to provide them with the best experience possible. At the same time, the instructor has a responsibility to the entire group to provide a quality Yoga training session. The Yoga teacher has to take much into consideration, when running a class, such as: the abilities, needs, and desires of each individual student. This is no small task.
What do you do if 1 student out 20 continually has problems with the Yoga poses (asanas) during class? What should we do if a colleague or a staff member often complains about specific students? How would you handle it if you see a colleague engaging in an activity outside of the studio that does not fit within the code of ethics?
There are many different scenarios that can come up throughout your journey as a Yoga instructor. You must be prepared to handle them with grace and integrity. Most Yoga institutions will have a written code of ethics for their instructors to learn and follow. Make sure to know the code well and follow it diligently.
When you treat everyone with dignity, respect, and compassion, no matter the circumstances, you will gain the respect and admiration of the students. A positive reputation follows you wherever you go. Acting unethically could cause a whole host of problems that might even result in losing your position as a Yoga teacher.
The importance of ethics cannot be understated. While it is certainly important for Yoga instructors to be knowledgeable about the techniques, poses, methods, and philosophies, the way you treat your students and present yourself takes precedence.
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