Every profession is associated with a set of stereotypes, and yoga is no different.
People have presumptions about how yoga teachers should be. For example, people often believe they should be lean and follow a sattvic lifestyle.
In the last few years, I became used to the various stereotypes, myths, and perceptions about yoga teachers. As International Yoga Day comes closer, we work more and hear more assumptions that people have.
Out of them all, I wish these four assumptions about yoga teachers were true:
1. Yoga teachers cannot get sick
After practicing yoga for years, my practice is no longer limited to the mat. Yoga has become a part of my lifestyle. Healthy eating, getting enough sleep, and mindfulness has become a part of daily life.
So, when I get back pain or a fever or a bad stomach ache, I am always asked by someone or the other, “How did you get sick? You are so regular with your practice and your lifestyle is so healthy…how?”
Like we know, the body and mind are connected. Sometimes, it’s an energy leak or prana block that leads to illnesses. Or, sometimes, we just slip off the healthy wagon and get sick.
Though, it would be awesome to always be healthy—but it’s the sick times that make us appreciate being healthy. Also, it’s a way to check our habits, thought patterns, and lifestyle.
2. Yoga teachers are a blend of different professions
Yoga teacher’s job profile: A lean, fit-looking individual who can assess and give remedies for health issues (like a doctor), give one magical movement for managing and healing any pain or injury (like a maestro physiotherapist) while being a part-time gymnast, who can become a pretzel and do topsy-turvy movements with ease.
Lastly, a yoga teacher is a blend between a meditation guru and a therapist who can take care of one’s mental health and raise awareness.
Phew! That’s one difficult job description. Honestly, it would require this entire lifetime to fit into this role. I can suggest asanas to help a migraine or slip disc, but I cannot treat every injury with yoga alone.
Although, yoga has helped me with my mental health. It’s been a result of consistent asana, pranayama, and mindful practices. There is no quick-fix solution.
Although, I would love to be a perfect blend of all the above.
3. Yoga teachers only work 20 hours a week
I might teach one or four classes in a day. So, on average, I might teach for 20 to 25 hours per week. There is a lot of work that happens behind the scenes: marketing plans, social media, or looking for more opportunities to teach
We are selling an intangible product, and the yoga teacher is the best advertisement for their work. Thus, we constantly work on ourselves, refine our practice, and experiment on ourselves. Just like any other teacher would.
Those 20-ish hours are the final product. But, we work a lot more than the final delivery of our art.
4. Yoga teachers are calm and composed
That’s the goal, but seven+ years of yoga, and I still get angry and anxious. I cry and I laugh like there’s no tomorrow. Emotions are a natural expression. We cannot eliminate them; we just learn how to process them better.
In yoga, we say, every thought, desire, and emotion is a ripple in calm waters.
As teachers, we build more resilience. But at the end of the day, we are still far from the serene-calm-effervescent persona that we project.
This article is not about stereotyping or putting yoga teachers in a box. It is about the assumptions and expectations of a yoga teacher. It is natural to want the best practice and guidance in any field.
And as a teacher, I constantly work on improving my skill and practice. Though, sometimes these assumptions fill me with mirth and surprise.