Sunday, 12 August 2012

Teacher Preacher Healer: the Yoga Evangelist Karaoke Singer

My renewed life insurance policy now requires me to have a disclaimer in my blog. So here it goes: the beast of sarcasm is currently on vacation, so this entry is safe for the faint of heart and sensitive people. The beast worked really hard in the last blog promoting the new yoga products from the 3A Not-a-cult Yoga Inc. Some time off is well deserved.

I wrote about the role of teacher a while back and you can find it here. Recently a well respected yoga teacher Spicy Hello Kitty also wrote about the subject, and we had a short but meaningful discussion about it. Then lo and behold, the very topic came up again when The Divine Miss N and I were having coffee a couple of weeks ago. Obviously it's a topic that deserves more attention.


Back in my yoga teaching days, all of my classes were required to "have a heart-oriented theme, which has a meaningful connection to the grand spiritual purposes of the asana practice", and I was supposed to "display a dedication to serving each student and helping him or her unveil his or her innate goodness, worthiness, and Supreme nature, while inspiring..."

That's quite a load, especially from a yoga school that is supposed to be all about freedom. We're told to follow this template with a mandatory heart theme, where each class starts with a 5-7 minutes of nattering that followed by om shanti shanti shanti, sequenced poses with some alignment focus that leads to the climatic apex pose and then cool off to a power nap... granted, this is a great template for an asana class. But it's just a bit ironic when this system is supposedly non-dogmatic. Looking back now, it has a shit load of hair-splitting, not-all-forgiving, often-changing-to-conform-to-GM's flavour of the month... you get the picture. A good tool to plan a class? Yes. The only way to teach a class? No.

Most importantly, because of the self-help, therapy, re-hab type of atmosphere it creates, many are drawn to it. This self-help, re-hab type of nattering is some powerful shit and it sells. It even has its own section at Chapters. Anyone who has been asked to demo a handstand or dropback in a yoga workshop can attest to it. I mean, Oh! My! God! I went to a yoga class and I became superman! I was healed! And I didn't even need the yoga urethra massage therapy!

Fast forward...