How on earth do you flip an extremely negative situation around to use it for good? How do you share in a constructive way without carrying around the baggage of your story. I’m honestly still doing the treacherous inner work that comes along with all of that but I still feel the strong urge to share, to release some steam, as it were, and clear the air.
Our yoga community in Charlotte is a large one, it’s diverse, rich with styles and lineages all unique and beautiful. There’s a home for every type of yogi, those who want fast, hot and loud and for those who want a more quiet, introspective sort of class and everywhere in between. I have practiced yoga for over half of my life and I have had the privilege of studying under some amazing yogis. These teachers genuinely care for their students and you can feel that in their classes. They carefully sequence their classes, choose their music, and intuitively assist their students with respect and expertise.
Something I’ve noticed, more prevalent lately, for a long time is the rising popularity of the narcissistic teacher. We have all experienced that kind. They love the sound of their own voice, can be seen checking themselves out in the mirror while teaching or (even worse) assisting students. This type of teacher is usually so self involved that they are rarely a deliberate threat to others and if so it’s usually unknowing.
There is another type of teacher though, and this one is the real danger. This teacher is so self abusive, manipulative, and traumatizing that most people just feel sorry for them. They start pontificating their story, their heart break, their abuse so other people will pity, help and or give them a get out of jail free card. Their lies, deceit and bitterness are tangible to empaths and those with their eyes open wide. This type of teacher preys on students, employees, teachers and even other studio owners. The drama and turnover they create in their own studios is alarming but to them, it’s always the other persons fault. Once someone sees through their bullshit it usually spells the end for that employee, and I must say the employee is better off.
How can you protect yourself from such a teacher? (honestly this goes for life in general as well!)
- You have a right to your body, if you don’t want to be assisted you can say no and expect that request to be honored, if it is not, that is sexual harassment and must be addressed!
- If you witness or have negative and or sexually explicit remarks aimed at you, you can verbalize how uncomfortable you are.
The only way to make abusive, manipulative and sexually charged harassment stop is by calling it out. Saying things like, ” oh they didn’t mean anything by it.” or “It’s just better to leave this kind of thing alone, don’t want to rock the boat.” is promoting that type of behavior. Turning a blind eye to this type of behavior honestly just fuels it and their ego! No one should ever be traumatized in a yoga studio, that is sacred space, wether you’re a spiritual yogi or just someone who likes to move and sweat is irrelevant. It’s not time for me to tell my story yet but I can still channel the message. As yoga teachers there is an understood oath we take to protect our students, to guide them, to challenge them and to hold space for them. Laying hands on them in a perverse way not only breaks that oath but invokes the wrath of Karma and I’m not sure about you but I don’t want to be on her negative receiving end. Teachers need to stand up for fellow teachers and students. If you can’t do that, then ask yourself why you call yourself a leader and if you’re truly holding space or just claiming to.