But Really, Check Yourself

Check your attitude. Check your presumptions. Check your words.

I cringe seeing social media statuses lamenting that "Instagram" yogis aren't "real" yogis. Posts complaining about students in class. Captions stating that teachers who handstand on mountain tops somehow don't hold the same value as other teachers. Who are these women wearing the bright yoga pants? How could anyone take them seriously?

Photo by Lauren Marie

Photo by Lauren Marie

I really wish that I was exaggerating. In fact, I'm softening what I see on. the. daily. Admittedly, many of those in my close community - and myself - fall into the categories openly ragged on. I've probably even been the student who rolled in late, didn't seem engaged and forgot a hair tie. 

But who are we to judge others? Unless you've personally met the mountain top handstander or connected with the student jamming to her own drum, what basis do you have to judge? And even then, why say anything?

At the end of the day, you don't know anyone's story besides your own. You don't know how damn hard that handstander worked on feeling confident enough to take the picture. You don't know the physical and spiritual injury of the student who had the courage to show up for class today. You simply don't know.

Ahimsa, the practice of non-harming, encourages us to follow the golden rule: treat others as you would want to be treated. In yoga, we claim that we are all one, that we are light. By harming others with verbal attacks and sweeping generalities, you are doing nothing but dimming your light, the light of your community.

Oh - and just a purely logistical reminder - your words are public. Your students can see them. Their friends can see them. Your colleagues can see them. People you'll meet in the future - maybe that includes the yogini in the neon striped pants who is actually a dedicated teacher - can see them. (Yes, even if your account is "private.")

And those words can sting. So talk about what's going on in your world but learn to differentiate the public commentary from the private discourse. I'm not saying that we shouldn't express our opinions and stand up for what we believe. Rather, I think we need to take a beat and think about what we're promoting as teachers, as leaders.

Remember that words carry weight and that weight can cause harm to your community and to your reputation. So, please, check yourself.