What should Yoga teachers know about promising cures? To get straight to the point, a Yoga instructor should never promise anything he or she can’t deliver. For most of us, one of the most disappointing experiences in life can happen when we trust a person or a product to deliver on something a company promised. When they either underdeliver or don’t deliver at all, it can be pretty discouraging. One of the reasons why the beauty industry is so lucrative is because there are millions of companies that promise to provide products that will get rid of fine lines, diminish wrinkles and other claims. So many women spend millions of dollars in order to achieve those final results. When those results don’t happen, they just simply move on to another product.
The same concept takes place in city, state, or federal political campaigns. Politicians often promise to deliver results based on the needs of their constituents. As a result of desperation and a strong desire of change for the better, people vote for a politician with new and wonderful promises, which result in a new rise to power. As we know, there are no guarantees in political theatre, and sometimes it becomes a never-ending cycle of similar promises with lackluster results. While these experiences run the gamut, it’s important to protect the sanctity of Yoga and what it represents. This is why it is very dangerous to provide claims that Yoga will be able to do something that it can’t do 100% of the time.
Is There a Difference?
Yes, Yoga is entirely different from sales and politics. So, once more: What should Yoga teachers know about promising cures? One of the reasons why it is very dangerous to hold Yoga on a pedestal in an effort to promise a cure is because each person is different. When a person enters a Yoga studio, they are coming into class with their personal strengths, mindset and physical limitations. Whether a person is dealing with a hormonal imbalance, a backache, or a broken wrist; these factors play into how our student will be able to experience different asanas, pranayama techniques, meditation, mantras, Yogic teachings, and more. There are some people who will be able to receive Yoga as a cure-all for everything they’ve experienced. However, that doesn’t mean it will be the case for everyone.
In the news, we hear a lot about efficacy rate of vaccines. Many people were shocked to learn vaccines tested in controlled environments, in the best of circumstances, do not have a 100% efficacy rate. These vaccines and our modern pharmaceutical companies are created by some of the most brilliant minds in the world. Are they 100% effective all the time? Not always, but there are times when big gun pharmaceuticals are the best weapons we have if a pandemic strikes. When they don’t work or have side effects, the pharmaceutical industry has armies of lawyers.
Negative Thoughts and Fear of Failure
Now, back to the uncontrolled environment if real life situations. Take a look at the simple act of floating on water. There are many people who can swim, but some of them struggle to relax. They just don’t know how to relax. As a result of their inability to relax, they can’t figure out how to effectively float for long periods of time. They struggle to figure out how to let go, because fear is involved within their thinking and they worry about sinking to their death. Until they’re able to fully process how to let go of their fears and float, they’re not going to have a successful experience. This doesn’t mean that floating is impossible. They just can’t figure out how to connect their mind with their body in order to relax. The mind plays a role in life and within a controlled trial of the latest pharmaceutical creation.
The same concept applies to Yoga. While one person might look at Yoga and have a successful experience that changes their entire life, that might not be the experience for the next person. This is mainly because Yoga is a deeply personal experience. While you, as the teacher, can help a student understand the concepts, they have to put them into practice; they have to connect their mind, body, and soul in order to gain the full benefits. There may be any number of reasons why a successful outcome does not happen. So, you don’t want to make a claim that a technique will cure something, when there’s a possibility that it just doesn’t happen.
What should Yoga teachers know about shame? It has no place in a healthy student/teacher relationship. When we give advice, we want it to be useful. Negative feelings come about when we promise a cure and a student doesn’t experience healing. This can also usher in a level of shame for the student, because it didn’t happen for them the way it might’ve happened for the next person. Then, people start to look internally and scrutinize themselves. Compassion should be one of the leading forces in teaching Yoga classes.
There’s also the factor of legalities and liabilities that you don’t want hanging over your teaching. While it’s okay to talk about the potential success people can experience with Yoga, never promise because you don’t know what that individual person’s journey will look like from the most practical standpoint. What should Yoga teachers know about the law? Teaching safe classes requires us to be responsible with our words and actions.
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