How many Perfect Instagram yoga gurus do we need?
As a white 43-year-old yoga practitioner and soon to be a teacher, I’ll tell you: NONE. We need none.
Sharing knowledge with others is fantastic. I myself get very excited about learning new things and in the very early days of learning something new, I really do want to talk to everyone I know about the new great thing. Especially when that new great thing has helped me along my journey of growth and healing. I have begun to follow fellow energy workers and yoga instructors on Instagram (as you do) since I started this part of my healing path. I like to learn from people who may be more knowledgeable than me.
Here’s the thing: I am speaking of knowledge, not wisdom.
Knowledge is learned information, either through training under an experienced teacher or through personal learned experience. Wisdom is not quick work like gaining knowledge tends to be. Wisdom comes from putting your knowledge to work and learning from mistakes, time spent working on a particular skill, or experiencing deep personal pain and/or loss. Most of the ‘gurus’ I see all over the internet these days are not imparting any wisdom. Their intentions may be very good. But they are putting forth a false narrative of what a yoga teacher should be and/or look like.
It is natural to want to share when you find a good thing, a thing that helps you. But all one can do is share their experience and perspective of a said good thing. The wisdom is for the recipient of the knowledge to gain as they use the information learned and continue walking their path, learning to use the knowledge gathered along the way.
Another problem I see with the “Instagram guru” is a whole mess of cultural appropriation. Yoga is an ancient and very deep spiritual practice. Many teachers though, have condensed it into the barest of bones fitness routine with no regard to the inherent sacredness of the practice. Chanting Sanskrit phrases without even understanding the meaning, ending classes with ‘namaste’, and posting hundreds of oversexualized photos of themselves in various asana get gain ‘likes’ and comments. Frankly, I think it’s gross.
I am in the process of getting certified to teach yoga.
I have no plans to teach a class the very day I receive my certificate. There is A LOT I still have to learn, and I need to hone my personal practice and use my own wisdom about how I plan to teach, free from appropriation and without bastardizing a beautiful practice for the sake of getting people skinny or being able to stand on my head so I can show off for my followers on Instagram and Facebook. A yogi I greatly admire, Gianna Purcell, posted recently on her IG that the perfectly edited ‘Instagram yoga’ posts are doing a disservice to the real seekers because putting yourself out there as perfect is based on lies and insecurity. Real teachers, real seekers, are messy and constantly learning as we go.
I want to share the beautiful and loving practice of yoga with others, help them grow as yogis, but I am not going to be starting any ‘circles’ or selling tickets for ‘workshops’ attempting to teach things far beyond my scope as a newly certified yoga teacher.
I also refuse to separate the sacred from the physical when it comes to teaching my yoga classes. We are made of more than the meat suits we walk around in, and the practice of yoga encompasses not only our physical, but mental, spiritual, and emotional selves. One doesn’t have to be fluent in Sanskrit or be a religious cleric to teach yoga (or to practice it!) but I do believe one should respect the history and the practice and impart that to your students.
Practicing yoga is a way to learn all your bad habits so you can break them, take control of and release the thought patterns that no longer serve you, and drop into your true self, apart from perfection and ego. It’s about a whole lot more than handstands and fancy leotards. And it’s also not about you.