By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500, YACEP
Who has the right to become a Yoga teacher? About 15 years ago, I ran into a case in which a Hatha Yoga teacher, who had been teaching for years, was being refused from a teacher training course. Before anyone gets stirred up over this and the Act on the Affairs of the Handicapped, in the United States, this story gets better. His wife is also a Yoga instructor and they teach classes as a team. Yet, he was still refused the opportunity for certification as a Yoga teacher. At this point, you might be thinking of the legality of refusing anyone an equal opportunity. I am not an attorney, but this seems like a viable case to me.
Do you think that the organization, which refused this gentleman the right to participate in their Yoga certification course, consulted their attorney before making such a decision? Honestly, I doubt it, and the idea of a Yoga certification organization showing discriminatory judgment goes against the purpose and philosophy of Yoga. We must do what is right, even if it is unpopular. We have seen how bad behavior becomes glorified, but that does not make it right, fair, or courteous.
Yoga means union or unity. Where is the “unity” in discrimination? Discrimination originates from a closed mind. Discrimination works closely with intolerance and can lead to unjustified acceptance of blatant lies or worse. It is the morality of this issue that should concern us all. It is hard to imagine being blind every day, with so many things that most of us take for granted. The problem is a lack of empathy from a group or individual, which refuses to change. As the years go by, each of us becomes aware of disabilities, but how we treat others speaks volumes.
If you want to take a short tour of what it feels like to be blind, close your eyes, and within minutes your other senses will improve. Did you ever notice your hearing improves, when you try to meditate? Try to move around without opening your eyes, but use caution. When you shut one of your senses off, the rest of your senses will become sharper, as a result of your “handicap.” A blind teacher will most likely have better cueing and demonstration skills than most of us. With another teacher in the room, to assist, a student would get “the best of both worlds.”
This is why we have laws that protect all of us from discrimination. Sometimes, we think that common sense should rule our society, but as you know it does not always work that way. Everyone should make an honest effort to understand others. We do not have to agree on every issue, but different viewpoints that work together make a healthier and creative world around us. If a blind man has a desire to become a certified teacher, who has the moral right to refuse him? No one hat that right, and he has been certified for about 15 years now. Who has the right to become a Yoga teacher? Anyone with foundational knowledge, desire, empathy, and compassion.
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