I often hear a piece of advice, commonly given to Yoga teachers: be authentic!
This is perhaps a very good advice, I would just like to investigate it more closely.
At first glance, I may have a problem here: what if the Yoga teacher is a “clumsy” person? Or what if the teacher speaks in a monotone, boring way? Should they still “be authentic”, or should they be looking for improvements first? By the way, if you’ve got a manner of speaking that is boring to listen to, I can definitely help you with some training. However, if you’re clumsy, how does one fix that??? Yogasana practice, perhaps… Alas, I digress.
For now, let’s put the above problem aside, and continue looking at authenticity more closely.
In the dictionary, authenticity is defined as “the quality of being authentic”, and “authentic”, in turn, is defined as “not a copy”, “genuine”, “based on facts”, “made or done in the traditional way that resembles the original”. Hmmm… Sounds good, but that’s not just what we want here.
Let’s see if I can do a better job myself, coming up with my own definition of authenticity, as it applies to the way of being, useful for teaching Yoga.
Being honest with ourselves and being direct and honest with others.
Is that better? Combine that kind of being authentic with knowing yourself as well as being kind and compassionate toward yourself and others, and we may be onto something good, right?
For reasons unknown to me, authenticity continues to be quite rare among Yoga teachers, I think… Just as many Yoga teacher avoid eye contact with the students when teaching class, most of us still stick to the old ways of role play, strategy, control, etc. when it comes to interpersonal relationships.
I suppose this may be because being authentic is a risky adventure. There is a vulnerable, exposed side to it, and not all of us are willing to be vulnerable in public situations. Being direct and honest with others demands faith in ourselves, and to have the faith in oneself, one must know themselves. So we’re right on track, then, as the essence of modern Hatha Yoga is built around self-discovery, self-knowledge and self-realization.
As I Yoga teacher, I plan to use my profession as a vehicle for becoming more authentic, kind, supportive and honest toward myself and others. This is one of the most wonderfully rewarding professions on the planet today!