Of course, you practice Yoga with the best of intentions. Now, you’re thinking, doesn’t everyone practice, learn, and teach Yoga with the best of intentions? In a few words: No, they do not.
Some Yoga teachers over-step their boundaries. We have Yoga students who were abused verbally and physically, before they came here. Some were picked on for being overweight, insulted for their lack of flexibility, and one of my current students had her back jumped on by her former Yoga instructor, while holding Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana). By the way, this student had told this Yoga teacher, she had back problems, before she took her first Yoga class.
We’ve all heard stories of different cases of abuse, by anyone in authority. The problem is not the training – it’s the inherent lack of common sense and compassion. Most people grow into a Yoga teaching position just fine, while a rare few develop “petty dictator syndrome.”
It’s amazing what people will justify, and then, insist their acts were done with the best of intentions. My Grandfather used to say, “Hell was made with good intent.” Ponder that for a while, and you will come up with many ideas.
If you think of the worst atrocities known to man, you will find someone who can justify them. Do you think Idi Amin, Pol Pot, Hitler, and Stalin thought they were wrong? They would all justify their intentions. Now, on a much smaller scale, going into your Yoga class, with a competitive mind-set, is not the best of intentions. You will eventually injure yourself. All of us age, and we will not get the same results, from our body, every day. Your body is not a machine and if it were, a machine would show signs of wear too.
A competitive mind-set will bolster your ego and that has nothing to do with Yoga. Your mind, body, and spirit cannot become healthy, when your ego is in “the driver’s seat.” There is no tranquility, harmony, peace, mindfulness, or loving kindness within the ego. To the ego everything is a perceived threat, to its existence.
Leave your ego at the door, with your shoes, before going into Yoga class. When you practice Yoga, savor each lesson, and take it out into the world, for practice. When you leave the ashram or Yoga studio, practice is applying what you learn to real life. So, it does not end, when you roll up your Yoga mat.
Be courteous to everyone all the time. You are projecting loving kindness and being mindful of life in the present, and practicing the unity of mind, body, and spirit.