Yoga instructors do far more then simply teach students a variety of poses. In many cases, yoga teachers are a role model for fitness, spirituality, and ethical behavior. Because yoga instructors are so influential in so many different ways, there are several ethical guidelines in place for them to follow. As a yoga teacher, it is important to review these ethical guidelines and make an effort to demonstrate ethical behavior, whether you are in the studio, at home, or just out in the world. This will give you the ability to be more then just an instructor – you can be a role model for peace and change in your students’ lives.
Many different types of people will come to a yoga class. Men and women of all different ages, sexual orientations, physical abilities, and races can enjoy the practice of yoga. Everyone can benefit from the healing aspects of the practice. As a teacher, you should make an effort to warmly welcome all students into your classroom. Accepting diversity in the studio encourages others to do the same. It can also have an impact outside of your class. By demonstrating acceptance and understanding in your yoga sessions, people will leave your class with the same mentality you exhibit- an open mind and an open heart.
Respect is a huge part of any yoga practice. The practice of yoga encourages people to respect themselves, in both body and mind. It promotes a feeling of self-worth, self-discovery, and self-love. As a yoga teacher, you should also encourage mutual respect from one person to another, whether it is student to student, teacher to student, or any other relationship. Remember the meaning of Namaste, the customary greeting and farewell in yoga – “I bow to you”. This humble greeting shows that you recognize each student and give him or her respect. This simple gesture of respect can help your students find their own self-worth and can also help them to appreciate the worth and value of others, whether it is in your class or outside the studio. Be a role model and encourage respectful behavior, either while you are teaching or when you are out in your own personal life. Remember that as a yoga instructor, you are a role model, even when you are off the mat.
Sex and ethics has been a hot topic in the yoga community lately. With sexual harassment complaints on the rise, it is important for all yoga teachers to be aware of sexual ethics and to practice body respect in the studio. Always ask students if they comfortable with physical adjustments before placing your hands on them. Always remain professional and avoid sensitive areas of the body. Remember that as a teacher, you are setting an example for your students. This role comes first, and you should consider its importance before engaging in personal relationships with any student outside the studio. Your professional behavior regarding sexual ethics in the yoga studio can not only promote a safe, respectful environment for your students, but it may also influence your class to take ownership of their own ethics outside the studio.
Becoming a yoga teacher involves more then just learning the basic poses and sequences. It involves a lot of personal growth, spiritual attunement, and reflection on respect and ethics both in and out of the yoga studio. Taking the time to develop your own personal ethics and responsibilities will ensure that your class is more than just a place to practice yoga. Through your demonstrations and examples of kind and compassionate behavior, you can encourage change in your community, starting one student at a time.
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