The ethics of the Yoga teacher
by Tassos Antonopoulos Narayana
Every yoga teacher carries an ancient tradition, a tradition that entails certain ethical directions, so that the practice is effective. The issue of ethics is purely practical. The ethical principles listed below are the lines along which one should move and not ossified ethical rules.
The Yama and Niyama constitute the ancient tradition of ethical guidelines – merits provided to the seeker. They are guidelines impervious to the passage of time, even though their interpretation can depend on the culture and the time they are deployed. Their implementation however is nothing less but a lifetime pursuit. These are the following:
The Yama are comprised of five merits:
Non-harming (Ahimsa), Truthfulness (Satya), Non-stealing (Asteya), Moderation of the senses (Brachmacharya), Non-possessiveness (Aparigraha).
The Niyama are comprised of five merits:
Self-purification (Saucha), Contentment (Santosha), Self-discipline (Tapas), Self-study (Swadhyaha), Surrender to the Divine (Ishvara-pranidhana
Beyond yama and niyama
As the society in which we line in is very different from the society in which Patanjali lived, when he developed the Yoga Sutras, let us examine some additional guidelines:
1. Honour and live yourself as a divine Being full of goodness.
2. Honor and embrace the sacred service that you offer
3. Your honesty and precision should be mirrored in your practices.
4. Find yourself in a daily experience of Yoga.
5. Humbleness should fill your being.
6. You are, always, both a teacher and a student
7. Keep in mind your first days as a beginner student in order to develop compassion and empathy for those on the first steps of the path.
8. Develop the merit of modesty. Speak of yourself only when that is essential and maintain a modest stance.
9. Be certain for your actions and your words, speaking in accordance to each situation separately.
10. Offer verbal honours to your teachers and the sources of your knowledge and skills.
11. Avoid making direct comparisons of different Yoga systems
12. When you speak publicly of your teachers in yoga or of different systems of yoga focus on the positive points.
13.Provide a safe and clean space of practice for your students.
14. Avoid to provide medical advice unless you have relevant training or experience.
15. Do not accept gifts that are intended to influence your decisions
16. First provide a lot of sessions to “beginners” before dealing with other students.
17. Avoid drinking much alcohol. Under no circumstances should he provide services under the influence of alcohol
18. Avoid any toxic substances
Student - teacher relationship
1. The teacher should accept every student, independent of their gender, race, religion, ethnicity, cultural background.
2. Develop empathy and compassion for all the students.
3. Do not try to convince the students for the validity of your words. Encourage them to honour independent thought and exploration.
4. Give your students the chance to doubt what they hear.
5. Use appropriate words. Before you speak ask yourself:
Areyoubeinghonest? Isthisnecessarytobesaid? Is it the right time? Can it be expressed in a polite manner?
6. It goes without saying that the teacher should not deploy any kind of violence towards his/her students, physically, verbally or psychologically.
7. Always treat your students with respect.
8. Be patient both with yourself and with your students.
9. You are not psychologists.
10. Giveyourstudentstapaswhenthetimeisright. After their deployment the teacher-student relationship goes to a deeper level.
11. You should not have the intention and you do not have the capacity to change someone’s personality. Acceptance and understanding.