If you stand as a teacher in the yoga community, what exactly are you teaching your students? Are you leading them (and yourself) into another complex of body issues, another layer of self judgement and doubt because they don’t look like the pictures they see? Advertising has been on and on about this for years. Just look at the statistics about eating disorders, anxiety and depression to see their effects. There was an outcry when Bikram created the yoga Olympics because yoga shouldn’t be competitive, but in a lot of ways, this craze doesn’t seem very different. Is the yoga you teach part of the solution or the problem?
Which begs the question: what is yoga truly all about? Yoga is not all about the downward dog, handstands, extreme poses and the body “buddhaful”. Whilst it’s great that more people than ever are practicing yoga, and displaying it unapologetically in the world, and some of these contortions are downright awesome. But it sometimes seems like there is a competition to see who can knock out the coolest handstand or do the most insane and extreme yoga poses - all so that they can get more followers and likes on social media.
But it takes a lot more effort and humility to articulate the depths of your soul (your deeper psyche) than it does to snap a yoga selfie in a fancy pose. However, this is not to diminish the hard work, or genetics, it took to be able to perform that pose. But still, it’s just a pose, the outermost layer of the practice.
It’s easy enough to smile for the camera. Maintaining that inward smile throughout daily trials and adventures is a different story. That’s where real yoga is. It’s in the smiling heart you hold when you have every reason to frown. It’s in the compassionate smile you give when you have every reason to be angry.
Yoga is the art and science of continued, radical, human transformation. It’s valuable thoughts and insights are often difficult to articulate and it’s usually scary to be authentic and share true feelings. But looking into yourself, seeing yourself, understanding, accepting and loving yourself and others, teaches us that there is no way to be a perfect … (fill in the blanks with your roles: parent? lover? child? employer? yogi?) and a million ways to be a good one. We are not seperate, how we act in the world and relate to one another is where your yoga teaching on and off the mat is relevant. The world we are experiencing today is the result of our collective consciousness, and if we want a brave, new world, each of us must start taking responsibility for helping create it. Guide your yoga students with wisdom.
Have a wonderful, excellent and amazing day!
May you live with peace, love and light.
Shanti Gowans is the globally recognised author and founder of Shanti Yoga™, Meditation and Ayurveda for the self, family and community.
Shantiji has brought the concepts and practices of a healthy body and a still mind to thousands of Australians through her Yoga and Meditation programs on national television... Read more about Shantiji's biography
Travel with Shanti & Peter Gowans this November for a trip of a lifetime.