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Walking the Walk

If you are a practitioner of yoga, a question that may come up for you about your fellow yogis or even your teacher is ‘do they walk the walk?’ Does the person you trust as a source for knowledge and inspiration practice what they preach?

This has been a fundamental aspect for me when choosing my yoga teachers, however, I have begun recently to reexamine why.  Afterall, what a yoga teacher does in their personal life is their business, and any projection made on that is a perspective – a judgement based on an individual’s definition of right and wrong, good and bad. Objectively speaking, if a yoga teacher brings you closer to the core teachings of yoga and is able to aide you in experiencing the feeling of yoga, they have done their job and done it well, whether or not they are kind, compassionate and vegetarian. Why then is it so hard to stomach running into your revered teacher eating a box of sushi with her Uggs on?

Beyond judging the teacher for their actions, I have concluded that it is about the satsang (the community attached to  seeking the truth). How can one trust a member of the group when they say one thing in a classroom setting, and then do another in their life? A yogi’s practice mat is but a microcosm and microscope for their life off the mat, not separate or contradictory. Ultimately we practice yoga to be more connected with all beings on the planet. We practice the Yamas  to bring ethical restraints to our lives as we relate to others: Ahimsa (non-harming), Satya (truthfulness), Asteya (non-stealing), Bramacharya (non-abusing sexually), and Aparigraha (greedlessness).  If a teacher sits in front of the room teaching  non-violence only to go and put on a pair of leather boots and engage in a meal that involves the harming of another being, that is not being truthful and weakens the satsang. There is a separation of being rather than an interconnectedness, and this separation prevents a state of yoga.

Ultimately, everyone is doing the best they can in life, teachers, yogis and non-yogis alike. We never see the full picture of another being, we only have our perception and intuition to go on. Lately when I question the authenticity of a teacher’s message, I challenge myself to look deeper, to ask myself if what I’m seeing is real, or just a perception? If I trust my intuition, can I use the opportunity to practice non-attachment? Can I see the holy being in front of me despite his or her humanity and flaws? Learning to love oneself as perfect in imperfection is learning to love all in this same way…even your yoga teacher.

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