I’m Just Here to Get Lucky – What Your Yoga Teacher Will Tell You, Part 2
What your yoga teacher won’t tell you, number 5: “I’m just here to get lucky.”
While many gyms, training schools, and yoga teachers’ associations frown on liaisons between instructors and students, with all that bared skin and limber bodies, it’s no surprise that this rule sometimes gets broken. It’s not always a big deal, but on occasion these matside flirtations have been known to erupt into full-blown sexual scandals.
I was in my first year in Business school when the Enron debacle broke out. A flood of talk and activities spurred around the topic of Ethics in Business, as if it were something new. I remember being quite snarky about it (some things don’t change, eh? :)). Really? We’re supposed to be ethical in business? Geez, I hadn’t thought of that!
Over time, I realized how naiive I was. Ethics is more complex than any personal belief of “right” and wrong”. It is not always black and white, as is true for most things in life. This means there should be a forum for it to be discussed, to be defined, to set boundaries, to be taught, and to create awareness.
Human affairs are complicated, and I admit that I prescribe heavily to the laissez-faire philosophy. Live and let live, I say. Yet, hypocritically, I tend to have reservations towards teachers who form romantic relationships with their students. I’m not even really sure why I feel that way, because rationally, I’d say that whatever happens between two consenting adults is no one else’s business, and not for anyone to judge.
However, as a yoga student, I am handing over not just my physical safety, but also my emotional and mental states, and I feel mighty vulnerable. So, I wonder if my prejudice stems from something deep-seated within, maybe some trace of doubt about the teacher’s boundary and my own security?
When I first started teaching, I would try to get my boyfriend to take my classes, and lamented the fact that he wouldn’t. But now, I’m actually glad that the early morning hours prevented him from making it to my classes. As a new teacher, I’m still learning many things, including coming into the role of a teacher. I have taken to heart what Judith Hanson Lasater often stresses: “You must create a sacred circle of safety for your students.” I’m not so rigid to insist that my boyfriend *never* goes to my classes, but I am aware that his presence will change the dynamics of the class.
So yes, sex scandals can erupt anywhere (har, Smart Money, don’t think I didn’t catch that). If it can happen in a somber religious environment under clerical cloaks, then it can surely happen with “magic ass pants” in a Down Dog. If 105-degree heat won’t raise your heart rate, then staring at scantily-clad sweaty bodies in the mirror for 90 minutes certainly will. The Yoga world is absolutely not exempt from unethical wheelin’ and dealins’ and sex scandals.
If you are reading this and thinking, but hey, love is love, and many singers, writers, and poets have rightly declared: you can’t stop love. I would agree. Although, in this case, I don’t know if it’s just simply about boys being boys and girls being girls. In the issue of sexual (mis)conduct, to me, it’s about us knowing our power and needs, and not abusing them to our advantage.
The key to understanding this student-teacher boundary is simple: The teacher is to consider all of his or her actions against a backdrop of the student’s welfare – Judith Lasater, 30 Essential Yoga Poses.
What do you think about this? Have you been in class with the teacher’s boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouse? How do you feel? How *would* you feel? Are you a teacher? Does it feel different with your significant other in the room?
For further reading:
- Article: Questionable Conduct – Is the yoga community turning a blind eye to ethical transgressions in the classroom? Who will draw the line when the boundaries between sex, power and yoga are blurred? (Thanks to Yoga Spy)
- Related article to the one above: Yoga Guru in compromising position (Yes, He Who Will Not Be Named Yoga Teacher is revealed!)
- Donna Farhi’s book Teaching yoga : ethics & the teacher-student relationship for advice and wisdom on how to conduct in and out of the classroom.
- Code of Professional Ethics set by the original California Yoga Teachers Association
- No one goes to Hooters for wings, and other useful advice from Chris Rock, including the (in)famous: “there is no sex in the champagne room”.