Yoga teacher ethics are an extremely complex issue. What if you met your soul mate in your classroom? If you are faithfully married, then the moral guidelines are simple, but what about single teachers who meet single students? If a student is married, that is also a simple matter of avoiding a real bad situation. However, is it right for a single teacher to date a single student?
As a yoga teacher, the demographics of your students vary considerably. Perhaps you teach an early morning class, dominated by senior citizens, or maybe you have a weekly session with the local basketball team. No matter what other students you teach, it’s inevitable that your classes will be filled with attractive, flexible, and friendly students. Having an interest in your yoga students is inevitable, but what you do with those feelings is an important part of an ethical practice.
Acknowledge Your Feelings
Don’t ignore your attraction to students. You don’t need to feel guilty or ashamed of noticing how good-looking or spiritually beautiful someone is. Trying to bury your feelings will only make them worse. Consider writing in your journal or meditating on your emotions; the first step to controlling your actions is acknowledging your inner feelings.
Depending on the guidelines and politics within your studio, you may not want to discuss your attraction with your boss or fellow teachers. If you teach at a corporate location, an employee handbook may specify that you be disciplined for bringing up sexual or romantic feelings towards students. Don’t let these circumstances inspire negative feelings. Humans are wired to find each other attractive, and even the best yoga teachers are still human.
Think About Your Actions
If you have mastered the spiritual strategies of yoga, you already know the importance of mindful action or inaction. Apply those lessons to your feelings of attraction and consider why you feel attracted to your student. If you have been single for years, and have decided you want to marry one of the people in your class, you are facing a volatile situation. Your wisest strategy will be to avoid alone time with your student. However, if you simply like a student’s smile or think they have a beautiful personality, it is likely that you do not need to completely avoid them.
Nurture Your Students
Above all, remember that your calling as a yoga teacher requires you to dedicate yourself to your students. You must rise above your individual needs. Your studio is not a place to find love or romance. Think about how a relationship with a student would disrupt the tranquil atmosphere you’ve built. Remember to keep love for all in your heart and follow the path of righteousness.
A Suggestion for the Exception
Life is full of exceptions and “what ifs.” What if you have really found your only true soul mate? Here’s an idea that’s not in the rule book. If this student can study in another yoga studio, school, or ashram, and you both are still magnetized to each other, then it must be love. I have a problem with yoga teachers who use the class as a dating service. At the same time, it is hard to find true love in this lifetime. To make sure it is not just a teacher taking advantage, or a student who is overwhelmed with adoration, it would be wise to end the teacher and student relationship. In this way, you are not dating your student.
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