There are certain jobs, vocations, and paths in life that require those who pursue them to be in the front of the room looking out at a sea of other people who are actually there to listen. Being a teacher of any kind is one of those paths, and Yoga teachers are on it, whether they meant to be or not!
Some Yoga teachers are naturally comfortable in front of a room. Maybe they have a background in performance, or public speaking, or just a good amount of self confidence already. Other Yoga teachers are a little awkward, although it might be a charming awkwardness, or shy and quiet, or even aloof. One thing is for sure, in either case, part of a Yoga teacher’s daily Sadhana (practice) is to make themselves vulnerable in front of people, be it one person or a roomful, and to get out of the way so that the Yoga can happen.
When you put yourself out there like that, there can be great rewards! You break through a lot of your own issues, learn how to put others first, get an indescribable feeling of being helpful, and may even get slathered in compliments after class. Students will inevitably come up to you and say things like, “That was the BEST class I have ever taken! When else do you teach?” and “I felt like you were in my head today! You always know just what to say!”
And when you put yourself out there like that, there are bound to be a few arrows shot in your direction as well! Even the world’s greatest Yoga teacher has had a student roll up their mat and walk out in the middle of class, or gotten a note from someone who didn’t like their workshop and has advice on how it should have gone. With the advent of online reviews, there is no end to the complaints it seems, and that stuff never goes away. I know a bunch of Yoga teachers from all over the place and every, single one of them has had their bout with online bashing, ranging from stalkers, to trash talkers, to people who go out of their way to spread rumors about them, to competitive (yes, right here in the Land of Yoga) peers who throw jabs whenever they get the chance.
Recently I received this email regarding an upcoming workshop at Dhyana Yoga (I have changed the name to keep this confidential) : “How disappointing that you are holding a workshop with Beverly Crusher. She had about five workshops at various venues and each one was cancelled for lack of attendance. She is a very poor example of a role model for yogis.”
Now, if I were a new studio owner, I might really call into question whether or not we should let Beverly Crusher lead a workshop at my studio. But I’ve been around, and I’ve been attacked in much the same way, and I don’t think it takes superpowers to pick up on the personal nature of this message. I brought the email to the teacher’s attention and sure enough, before I could even say the name of who sent it, she said it first. It is an alias this person uses to send such emails around about this teacher. It’s funny how the people who have the bells to write emails or reviews like this don’t have the nerve to sign their own names. I can tell you this particular teacher did not respond by attacking the attacker. Her response was informative, and compassionate, albeit sad in tone, which I can understand.
That really impressed me. Not striking back. It’s so instinctual to want to tell your side and rally the troops when something like this happens. But then we have engaged a war, and for what? An identity? An ego? A need to be right? I mean, if you’re going to war, it better be for something important, not just because your self image has had a tomato thrown at it.
When I had my turn at being bashed a few years back, I was newly pregnant and although it was devastating to me in many ways, I did not strike back either. I remembered that old saying, “The buck stops here.” and I just took it. Also I was smack in the middle of 2 solid months of the WORST morning sickness that lasted all day every day that I have ever heard of from anyone. Being weak and incapacitated was actually a great gift in this case. I laid on the couch and cried and cried and felt so raw, but I shouldered it. I did not want to wage war and have that become part of my forming child’s DNA. I let it come, let my identity, my ego, my notions of what was right, my husband, my work, my body, everything about me be maligned, and then I let it go. Because after all, who was attacking me? Who among us has the right to say who else is good Yogi, or a good role model for Yogis, or doing Yoga the “right” way, or doing the “right” Yoga??
No one that I want to listen to, that’s for sure.
Right here. This is where the buck stops.
Now let’s do some Yoga!