// Respecting Your Yoga Teacher
Oh, what a topic we are going to cover. Last month, I got to talk about misconceptions of being a trainer and yoga instructor. The end rounded up some ways that people could be the most respectful of the class and considerate of the teachers/instructors.
However, there is another side to respecting your yoga teacher that comes up more often than I’d like to admit. I think it’s a topic that can come up in any job or profession, but there is something about wearing yoga pants and doing yoga poses that creates an even more heightened situation. I have written at length that TrillYoga was not about being sexy. I and no yoga teacher I know went into teaching yoga to be sexy or desirable. We did decide to share yoga, something we find healing, worthwhile and potentially life changing.
There is a disheartening reality when you’re trying to share the work you’re passionate about and a man comes at you inappropriately. Similar to why it hurt me that TrillYoga was minimized to ‘ sexy chicks in bikinis doing impressive poses’ there is a shot to the chest we as women take every time work we are doing is ignored in favor of hitting on us, commenting on our bodies, or dismissing the beneficial work we are doing for your own misguided advances. Women in any work place, especially those where women had to work extra hard to get there, know first hand how off-putting and frustrating it is to be trying to do you job and trying to prove your worth in spaces that already don’t always value it, just to have someone hire you to come at you sideways. We question our work. We question men. We question if we have to only teach or work with women. We question our safety. And in some cases, we have to re-evaluate finances because other wise promising private clients or groups (which is income for fitness and yoga teachers) have to be let go for our own sanity and boundaries.
The other shitty part of this whole yoga scene is there have also been male yoga teachers who have been accused of assault, fraud, and a whole other host of inappropriate things. You start to wonder if women and women’s bodies are ever safe in yoga pants or any pants for that matter.
But let’s get back on topic. Yoga can be amazing for men. I’m a huge proponent of yoga for everyone; all genders, shapes, sizes, colors, and styles. Specifically for men, yoga has been found to improve men’s balance, reduce stress, lessen anxiety (in as little as six classes,) offer relief from insomnia, and improve heart health by reducing blood pressure and cholesterol.
Yoga is good. Wanting to do yoga is good. Wanting to bang all your teachers, eh, not so good.
Though I’m not saying men should not be attracted to women, the issue is that this attraction does not have a place in yoga, nor should it be your purpose for attending. And yet another problem comes about when you blame us for that feeling. i.e.: I had to hit on you, devil woman in tight pants bending over.
Though I think the real issue here is similar to a theory from, “No More Mr. Nice Guy,” that was brought to my attention by a dear friend. The idea is around “covert contracts.” Covert contracts are an unspoken ‘contract’ a man signs a woman up for without her being aware. Such as, 'I hire you to teach me yoga, we will have sex/go out/date/etc.' (Women use convert contracts too, but that is not for this blog.) They are actually inefficient and don’t work. That’s not how you find women to be with. Being direct, though equally as annoying for women at times, is far easier than fooling us into thinking you actually care about yoga. You should care about yoga because it’s really good for you, not just because of potential opportunities you believe exist with the woman teaching you.
So what can we do? I guess first and foremost this is a public service announcement for men that using covert contracts when you seek out a private yoga teacher is not only a shitty move but does damage to the woman while undermining her job. There are easier and less time-consuming ways to meet and hook up with women. If you care about yoga for the reasons you need yoga, please continue to go and be aware of how your actions and/or words may make women around you feel (instructors and fellow class mates if this is a group class.) The same goes for the entire experience, respect anyone else in the space and respect the practice; these are principles of yoga.
For my fellow instructors, who are women in the yoga or fitness industries (or really any industry,) know your boundaries. Stay aware and be firm with what you will and won’t tolerate. Sure, there is an argument to made by some that they use their feminine charms to increase business but from what I have experienced first hand, and heard from others, this approach is not only unappealing but can feel very cheap, very quickly. If that is your thing, do you; but be aware of the consequences and forms of attention that might come with that. I also think it sets up a strange power dynamic that minimizes the actual work being done.
Though we are all humans doing human things and making human mistakes, I would hope a call for mutual respect and appropriate conduct around yoga is something we can all understand and honor. Good luck out there.