The first day is always the hardest, brand new students from all walks of life with a thousand different expectations. How do I get them excited for the learning ahead? How do I keep them excited?
Over the many months of preparation leading up to teaching this course, I realized it was not excitement that I wanted to get across to my students. Rather, I want them to feel what it means to be a yoga teacher. I want them to sense the responsibility that they are undertaking. Too often nowadays yoga is presented as fashion, entertainment or only exercise. Not that there is anything wrong with any of these topics. But are we slowly taking the yoga out of yoga?
So I inserted a slide to my presentation.
“Do you think yoga can heal? What is yoga?”
Thankfully I did not have to pause much at this slide which happened to be towards the end of Friday night’s lecture. I started the night by asking folks: Why Yoga? Why do you take yoga? And in that first 5 minutes of our meeting we agreed that somehow yoga heals. It provides a sense of space, clarity and peacefulness in one’s life that is not easily found.
Yoga is a healing art. But for it to remain healing it must remain an artfully guided meditative, mindful practice. It cannot, it should not be reduced to pure exercise. Asanas, poses, no matter how complicated cannot stand alone. A teacher must be able to convey the art of breathing and balancing effort with ease for it to be called yoga. Our number one job is to reduce stress in the body and the mind, to teach a student how to find balance through breath and guide them toward self-awareness.
I believe that the essence in all culture’s wisdom teaching is the same and the teacher’s goal should be to find the appropriate vocabulary that students can understand in their culture, in their life.
Since Saturday’s class had 4 hours on Indian philosophy for my students, I decided to end Friday night’s lecture with oath from the western tradition that can hopefully serve as a guiding light through their profession.
I went ahead and re-wrote the Hippocratic Oath to fit a yoga teacher’s journey. If you are a yoga teacher, I hope it will speak to you. If you wish to start the journey of teaching, I hope it will inspire you.
This is what I wished for my students to take away from our very first meeting. I hope I succeeded, and I hope they will keep it in their heart through their journey.
Dora’s version of the Hippocratic Oath re-written for Yoga Healers:
- I solemnly pledge to consecrate my life to help humanity.
- The health of my student will be my number one consideration.
- My colleagues will be my sisters and my brothers not my competitors.
- I will know the limitations of my field and refer to healers in the medical profession to diagnose.
- I will not discriminate based on age, disease or disability, ethnic origin, gender, race, political affiliation, nationality, sexual orientation, social standing or any other factor.
- I will maintain the utmost respect for human life, I will not use my yoga knowledge to gain power over human minds in order to gain economic prosperity.
- I recognize that my job is to alleviate stress in the body through breath, mindfulness and asana. I will always remember that the goal is self-awareness and inner peace and not the asana.
- I will not represent yoga tradition falsely, purely for the benefit of economic gain.
- I will always remember that yoga teaches inner beauty, peace and balance and does not glorify the outside factors relevant for the ego.
- I will practice my profession with conscience and dignity.
- I will respect the secrets that are confided in me even after my student has died.
- I will maintain with all the means in my power the honor and the noble traditions of the yoga medicine.
- I make these promises solemnly freely and upon my honor.