Below are the ethical dilemmas we will discuss in Avalon's Yoga Teacher Training today. We first review the yamas and niyams, then identify our own core yoga and teaching values, and use them to guide self-reflection and discussion.
1. You have the opportunity to sub a class in a style that is very different from yours. Further, you don’t personally enjoy this style. Should you take this opportunity? If you do, how do you approach the class and students? What thoughts, emotions, and behaviors do you need to bring special awareness to?
2. A student in your class invites you out to lunch “to talk more about yoga.” You suspect he or she is interested in friendship or a romantic relationship. What do you do? Does it matter whether you find this person interesting or attractive? What does your decision say about how you perceive your role as a yoga teacher? Does having an outside relationship with a student change or limit how you interact with them in a class setting?
3. You have gotten very busy teaching yoga, and are excited to have so many classes to teach! Unfortunately, this is getting in the way of your personal practice. You haven’t attended a class in a few months, and you aren’t practicing formally at home. You tell yourself that your life is your yoga practice, and you don’t really need to practice asana, pranayama, meditation, etc. Is there an ethical component to this decision? What are the risks in this situation? How will you respond if you find yourself feeling like a “fraud”?
4. You witness one of your favorite, most inspiring yoga teachers outside the classroom doing something that really strikes you as “unyogic” but not necessarily illegal (pick behavior that conflicts with your personal yoga values/ethics). How does this make you feel? Will you tell others about this? Will this person continue to be an important teacher for you? What standards do you hold yourself to as a yoga teacher? How will you feel when you fail to live up to your own or another person’s standards?
5. You are so excited! You just received a request for private yoga instruction. The potential student is new to yoga, and his doctor recommended he learn yoga to help recover from hip replacement surgery (or knee surgery, or back surgery, or heart surgery…something you don’t know much about). Do you agree to help the student? Why or why not? If you do, what are you going to do to prepare? Where might you start? Who can you consult in this situation? How can the potential student be involved in making this decision or making any yoga lesson safe and helpful?
6. You have been teaching at a few different places that pay you very different amounts. One studio pays you by the student, and your classes have been very small but building a base of regulars. Another gym pays you a very low per-class fee, but the class is full and you love teaching it. Your corporate class pays a very high per-class fee, but attendance is poor and there are few regulars. Because of time constraints, you feel like you need to drop at least one class from your schedule. What are the ethical dimensions of this decision? How would you make this decision? What factors—besides class size and pay rate—would you consider?