Karuṇā: Morality of the Yoga Business
Compassion or Karuṇā are key to being a successful Yoga teacher. The definition of compassion is 'the ability to understand the emotional state of another person or oneself.' Often confused with empathy, compassion has the added element of having a desire to alleviate or reduce the suffering of another.
To be compassionate we need to be the recipient of love, kindness and caring, so that we can lavish the same on others.
Compassionate teachers will;
Write classes from a place of compassion (not competition or performance). Most students you meet will have experienced back pain and stress. You have the potential to alleviate some of that suffering through Asana, Pranayama and Meditation.
Observe your students, learn about them, the more you know, the better able you are to tune in and offer sequences that suit them.
Be compassionate to yourself. As you get to know students, you'll begin to care about them, be mindful that Yoga teachers can experience burn out and empathy overload. Careful observation of yourself, your interactions with students is needed. You’re not expected to know all the answers or offer 30 minutes of your time to a student after class who’s having a tough time. Always be compassionate but be aware there may be times when you need to hold a boundary, or refer someone to a specialist (eg counsellor).
The compassionate individual is ‘touched’ at the heart and then extends themselves by reaching out towards others. Surround yourself with compassionate people, who extend their heart to you, as you extend yours to students.
The Yoga teachers I mentor get the chance to dive deeper into these concepts and find moral businesses are the ones that thrive and work become a part of their own spiritual practice.
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Photo by Jonathan Jones.
Thank you, Rosie Pose x