Please Teach Responsibly
Sometimes it’s not okay to ‘fake it till you make it’ and we have to be aware of our limitations and experience as teachers on a perennial learning curve. By Paula Hines
Reading time: 3 minutes
I recently read something by an esteemed therapist where they wrote very eloquently advising readers to be aware of people being qualified to guide others on how to look after their mental health.
This reminded me of a post I saw on social media some time ago from Accessible Yoga teacher and author, Jivana Heyman which began: “After teaching for 28 years, I can say that yoga is truly accessible to everyone… if the teacher has the skills to make it so.”
A number of years ago, I wrote a jokey article about my experience teaching a class when someone in the room — another yoga teacher — had a notebook and was openly writing down what I was doing. I spoke to them afterwards and they admitted that it was because they liked what I was doing and they were “looking for ideas.”
Though I joked about it at the time, there is a serious side to this. I am aware I’m not alone in experiencing this kind of thing, but using the aforementioned scenario and myself as an example, if I’m teaching (or writing, as I did in my book) and it’s not specifically in a teacher training context, what someone like that teacher is not going to get is all the ‘whys’ behind what and how I am offering certain practices that come from the combination of more than 20 years of ongoing practice, study, immersing, deep diving and (at the time of writing this) 12 years of teaching.
In that 20-plus years I’ve noticed where certain yoga styles and approaches go in and out of ‘fashion’. Within this, I’ve observed a number of instances of teachers presenting offerings in areas that they don’t have direct experience or training in.
As teachers, we can’t know everything — and that’s okay. But, being honest and responsible really matters. If something isn’t within your scope of experience then either resolve to train and immerse yourself in it, or refer students to others who do have that experience and training.
However much you may care and want to help you might not be the right person in that situation. I’ve many times referred people to other teachers who have extensive experience in areas where I do not. Reading some books, looking at what someone else is doing in order to try and emulate it, or ‘faking it till you make it’ isn’t enough and, in certain instances, can be unsafe.