I was once hired at a recreation center for a class called “All Levels Hatha Yoga”. The core group had been taking this class for a year. I soon realized they had never been taught alignment, pranayama...well, let's just say, they pretty much hadn't really been taught anything "yoga" in the course of the year. They were also all over 60 years old. Not surprisingly, I had to teach with a lot of modifications and props.
After nine months, a director (a non-yoga instructor) takes my class (they develop a performance assessment based on one class) for my yearly appraisal. A week later, we have my performance discussion.
Director: You do this weird breathing thing that I’ve never seen.
Me: You mean pranayama? No other yoga teacher here does pranayama? So, I then explained what pranayama was and why I have the class do it.
Director: We advertise this as a Hatha Yoga class. Why are you not linking breath to movement?
Me: Do you know what Hatha Yoga means? So I explained Hatha, Vinyasa, etc. and the differences between styles.
Director: Why don’t you use modifications like other instructors?
Me: The poses are already "modified" to the level of the students. I don’t show them the hardest version and then modify down-that’s demoralizing.
Director: You need to make the class harder, so more students come.
Me: So, the students you have are not important and you would rather I drive them out of the recreation center in order to increase numbers. It sounds like you want young students and don’t value your older students. You also understand that if I make it harder-your current students will get hurt, right?
And so the discussion went….which leads me lead this crazzzy concept called ETHICS!
There are certain values that informed my decision-making in this particular situation. They include:
What Where My Options:
So What Did I Do?
Based on my professional and personal ethics which are ultimately framed and defined by the yama-s and niyama-s, I could not stay in a place with that type of moral and ethical compass. I gave notice and I quit.
I use the yama-s and niyama-s daily in my professional and personal life. They guide me in developing classes and therapeutic offerings that are non-harming, truthful, honest and informed. I always put the student or client first and meet him/her/them where they are on the yoga journey. This has always included making my services adaptable and accessible both physically and financially.
How do the yama-s and niyama-s frame your daily life?
What ethics or values do you hold dear? Personally or Professionally?
How do you handle a situation when someone crosses those boundaries?
Albert Camus: "A man without ethics is a wild beast loosed upon this world."
…And a funny question at that.
I recently read that before you start an official blog, you need to introduce it. The WHY! So a few posts into this process, here's my take on why I started this blog...
What could I say that anyone else would care to read about; be entertained by; laugh at; shake their head in disbelief at; or bother to continue reading week after week? I am not remotely interesting. I'm a regular Washington, DC, area desk jockey...a Federal employee with a side gig teaching yoga.
Boring, square, dorky, and maybe even a little dull, right? Yes, I just described myself as dull...as little thought bubbles of my misspent youth gleefully dance in my head.
I mean, after all, my name is not Miley Cyrus. I'm not a media darling. I don’t have a spray tan (I’ve had them and they are sticky!), a bad 80's haircut (what's up with Miley's hair these days? I get that era is cool again but ppppplease not the hair!) and I definitely don’t know how to twerk (even though she hasn't done that recently, we all know her extraordinary ability at it.).
So since this is a yoga blog and speaking of twerking--like that seque--I substitute instructed for an early morning class once (at the height of the twerking craze). Now combine that with having a head cold...and you can see where this is leading. My abilities to think on my feet were limited and my words mighty jumbled. I actually told a student to correct the alignment of his knee by:
“Since you don’t want to twerk your knee and hurt yourself—I mean tweak”.
Ohhh Nooo-Did I really say that!!???
Thankfully, my one lone student in the class-a man-just smiled and laughed it off. I never received a termination letter from the gym for sexual harassment so I assumed all was well.
Now that we have covered spray tans, tweaked knees, and mind fog, let’s see if I can write an interesting blog about yoga and all the awesome individuals, ideas, and ponderings related to yoga…with a little smattering of my silly musings.
SOOO…step right up and feast your eyes on a most incredible and marvelous wonder that will astound and amaze you with its spectacular feats of peril and mischief!!
WELCOME TO THE BOUNDLESS BLUNDERINGS AND BLISSFUL BANTERINGS OF MY YOGA BLOG!!!
I AM Boundless Bliss Yoga. Just me. I'm a one-lady band. I'm a yoga therapist. I didn't start out to be a yoga therapist, I just wanted to learn more and SHAAAZZAMM...here I am.