ethos /// manifesto /// roles that melt together
this text results from shared reflections with friends and students.
we have laid out principles to guide the teaching and the student-teacher relationship.
it is important to have principles, to name our values and do our best to stick to them. this is crucial to building a community rooted in accountability and responsibility, and to undo habits and patterns so that we can from conditioning towards freedom.
the principles will continue to evolve, and we will update these guidelines whenever our growth will find it appropriate. our voice is there but it is not fixed where it is forever.
– the yoga teaching should be considered as any other professional service, so it needs sane and precise boundaries.
– we do not follow one single personality, we follow a method. and we work, collaboratively, towards its – respectful – evolution.
– at the same time, the core of our work is rooted in relationships; teachers and mentors are essential to us and guide us – never from a pedestal! – within a relationship that is trustful and that renews itself constantly.
– it is not appropriate for a teacher to have romantic or sexual relationships with the students.
– it is important to listen and protect the most vulnerable among us; those whose experiences are often ignored or minimized, and who may not find it safe to speak up and speak out about their experiences.
– mutual respect, collaboration, exploration/study, consent, and safety are at the foundation of our relationships.
– teachers are expected to be responsible and accountable. they have a regular 6-day-per-week practice (and don’t expect this same rhythm of practice from their students). they are committed to a moderate lifestyle, dedicated to the practice and to teaching – which does not mean they can’t have other interests! they are respectful of their students and aim for space that allows consent in their relationships with them.
– as a community, we are aware of the abuses inflicted by Pattabhi Jois during his years of teaching. we are not interested in pointing fingers nor in finding the guilty. we won’t get stuck living in the past but we want to make sure that these abuses won’t happen again in the future. we believe this method has incredible potential in its traditional teaching and as a mystic science. we want to support it.
– we refuse abuse (of power) in any of its forms: sexual, psychological, physical.
– we are changing direction, healthily, from a guru cult culture towards one of a community that self-regulates and self-supports. from expression to introspection.
– teachers are held responsible for their words and actions. we look for feedback to make sure of this.
– the teacher needs to be aware of how the adjustments are carried out upon students, within safety and respect.
– students are encouraged to express themselves, to deepen and study, to ask questions, to question the teachings received, to build their own experience/wisdom.
– teachers aren’t saints or gurus. they don’t have all the answers. they can also make mistakes.
– diversity, varied opinions and constructive criticism: you are all welcome!
– as a community, we will keep an eye on each other, without judgement and with love.
– taking into account what is expressed above, teacher-student engage in a reciprocal work of silent and non-silent positive confrontation where the trust needs to be renewed from time to time.
– to preserve the spirit of our space we don’t host commercial events or rent the space to make money. – our presence in social media is studied, curated and limited. the image projected aims to content and not to form.
– kindness, empathy, compassion and honesty.
history tells us about broken communities because of corrupted teachers and abuse of power. ashtanga yoga itself carries this car with it.
we are not interested in accusing anyone, we are not interested on wandering too much in the past, but we are interested in protecting students and practitioners with whom we work, today and in the future.
we align to those communities and teachers that, away from the spotlight, work and commit to heal this wound and allow the blossoming of a “futuristic” yoga of caregivers – post-authoritarian and against the commodification of the spiritual path, read here).
roles that melt together
teacher teaches, students apply themselves openly to practice, exploration and discovery – in communication with the teacher.
teacher corrects, student digests, run tests and studies.
teachers do not take advantage of the student’s communication.
teachers listen non-judgmentally and the student does not take advantage of this capacity of listening – and vice-versa.
two roles, different out of necessity. at the same time two interdependent roles. the teaching must not be authoritarian even if the implied nature of these roles seems to put teachers in power. the ultimate goal of yoga is to free ourselves from conditioning and the student-teacher relationship must bring to life this freedom and maturity. only if the teacher is grounded in his/her role of service the terrain will be fertile to host the most important and deepest work: that of the relationship between the teacher and the student, where the student does not give away power and the teacher does not take advantage of his/her position.
Amanda, Giacomo and AYA’s students