Is this a dangerous belief?

by Gabrielle on September 8, 2010

Now that you’re coming to Costa Rica in May, it’s time to start shaping your teacher identity. Yes, even now. It’s early days yet. And I do know that some of you are already officially teachers of something.

It’s my belief that we sell ideas to people or teach something all the time shaped by our beliefs and reflected in our words, deeds and actions.

So when I read a current post in the forum I found myself reacting to it. I thought that it was a great opportunity to ask you (and of course me!) some questions about what it means to practise and teach this yoga. So think of it as your first mission (should you wish to accept it – and I hope you do).

Here’s the link right here: 30 day challenge discussion

1 Please read it from the beginning right through to at least where I post my first response. For the sake of this post you will find some of my words repeated here differently, but repeated nonetheless. 😉
2 Respond as a comment or if you’d prefer send me an email. I will accept either or both!

Freia brought up some interesting points. And most of them I agree with!!!

At Bikram’s teacher training, practice is 11 classes per week. The philosophy (if you can call it that) is that the process is designed to stress you to a point of breaking and then you get rebuilt. To me this is an antiquated technique and smacks a little cultish to me!

Should I say “even though I went to that training”, or maybe “especially because I went to that training”, that I don’t believe AT ALL in that approach.

You no doubt already know that I totally agree with the need to consider the rest and recovery needs of EVERY body. This yoga is not a sport. Part of the reason why people’s bodies can’t cope with it is because yes we all have different abilities to cope but when it comes to hundreds of people suffering in the way described by Freia’s teachers at teacher training, I strongly believe there is an element of pose technique that is woven into the mix and not just sheer exhaustion.

I add that because in my 9 weeks away I was one of the only people who actually did NOT experience this problem or breakdown in my poses or practice – perhaps I was the exception to prove the rule. By the way this is a realisation I had by talking to people AFTER training. I wasn’t swanning around as if I were invincible. I simply was not aware that people were hurting to the extent they truly were. I guess I am not surprised.

The other reason may be is that although I enjoyed my experience it was based on the UNSHAKABLE belief that I have what’s necessary, you can’t break me, I won’t be told how to grow, and what the hey, it’s only 9 weeks of learning to recite a script, I can do THAT).

So here are list of questions that arise for me out of the beliefs that are ‘betrayed’ by the words of the fabulous yogini forum posters. I would love to know what your experience is when you read the posts and then ponder these questions for yourself.

>> What assumptions are we making about the experiences of those teachers at Bikram TT?
>> Why would all these teachers be going through such trauma?
>> Why does it therefore become the accepted and even expected norm?
>> What is being propagated by such experiences that has people experiencing pain and anguish and distress from practising yoga?
>> Is it OK to believe this?
>> What about ahimsa?
>> Is there another way?
>> Should we defend this approach because people feel good doing this yoga? Despite the fact that for many people their good feelings are overriding their sense of knowing when to stop, and even how to do the poses in a way that keeps them safe?
>> Is attending a bootcamp the only way to grow?
>> Do you believe that you need to be broken to build yourself something better?
>> OR Do you believe that you can use the tools you ALREADY have in your toolbox of life’s experiences and build from where you are now?

Surely yoga is about “being happy with what is” and then taking it from there. Noticing what’s going on and then noticing your response to what’s going on. Do you really need to be forced through an experience to get a result? And what if, as a result of that experience you find yourself telling people “it’s OK to push through that” or “It’s supposed to hurt” or you’re supposed to be broken by the end because you’ll be a better person for it”.

Is there an element of “Well I did it, so you can too?” Is that right to force that on others? Where’s the spirit of allowing.

As you ponder all this, see what arises for you about the kind of teacher, or yes, person you are or could be if you subscribe to the beliefs that those teachers have in Freia’s studio. What would be better or more supportive to you and your students?

And if you’re someone that doesn’t know if you’re going to teach, that doesn’t matter because what you believe is going to determine what you tell others about your own experiences. And let’s face it, we always do when it comes to hot yoga!

Gabrielle 🙂


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

robynn lerner January 30, 2012 at 8:37 pm

Awesome blog. I totally agree and it is such a wonderful thing to hear someone else say exactly what I have been saying all along…this makes me want to come to Costa Rica even more! I just have to convince my husband that we need a 4 week vacation there!! ;o)


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