It is an exciting time for me. I am about to welcome another class of students to Spira’s nine-month teacher training.

As I stare at my slides and notes, I can’t help but be a bit nervous. The first day is always the hardest; brand new students from all walks of life with a thousand different expectations. How do I get them excited for the learning ahead? How do I keep them excited?

I took a pause and I realized it was not excitement that I wanted to get across tonight. I want them to feel what it means to be a yoga teacher. I want them to sense the responsibility that they are undertaking. Too often nowadays yoga is presented as fashion, entertainment or only exercise. Not that there is anything wrong with any of these topics. But are we slowly taking the yoga out of yoga?

So I inserted a slide to my presentation.

“Do you think yoga can heal? What is yoga?”

I am looking forward to our discussion tonight…

I feel that yoga is a healing art. But for it to remain healing, it must remain an artfully guided meditative and mindful practice. It cannot, and should not, be reduced to pure exercise. Asanas, poses, any yoga no matter how complicated, cannot stand alone. A teacher must be able to convey the art of breathing and balancing effort with ease for it to be called yoga. Our number one job is to reduce stress in the body and the mind, and to teach a student how to find balance through breath and guide them toward self-awareness.

As I was thinking, these thoughts it came to me: The Hippocratic Oath of physicians. At Spira we have a unique way of teaching yoga philosophy weaved together with western tradition. My idea is that the wisdom in all culture’s teaching is the same, and the teacher’s goal should be to find the appropriate vocabulary that students can understand in their culture and their life.

Since tomorrow I have four hours on Indian philosophy for my students, why not start the class with an Oath from the western tradition that can hopefully serve as a guiding light through their profession.

I went ahead and rewrote the Hippocratic Oath to fit a yoga teacher’s journey. If you are a yoga teacher, I hope it will speak to you. If you wish to start the journey of teaching, I hope it will inspire you. But most importantly, I wish for all teachers to keep it in their heart.

Dora’s version of the Hippocratic Oath rewritten for Yoga Healers:

  • I solemnly pledge to consecrate my life to help humanity.
  • The health of my students will be my number one consideration.
  • My colleagues will be my sisters and my brothers not my competitors.
  • I will know the limitations of my field and refer to healers in the medical profession to diagnose.
  • I will not discriminate based on age, disease, disability, ethnic origin, gender, race, political affiliation, nationality, sexual orientation, social standing or any other factor.
  • I will maintain the utmost respect for human life and I will not use my yoga knowledge to gain power over human minds in order to gain economic prosperity.
  • I recognize that my job is to alleviate stress in the body through breath, mindfulness and asana. I will always remember that the goal is self-awareness and inner peace, and not the asana.
  • I will not represent yoga tradition falsely or purely for economic gain.
  • I will always remember that yoga teaches inner beauty, peace and balance and does not glorify the outside factors relevant for the ego.
  • I will practice my profession with conscience and dignity.
  • I will respect the secrets that are confided in me even after my student has died.
  • I will maintain with all the means in my power the honor and the noble traditions of the yoga medicine.
  • I make these promises solemnly, freely and upon my honor.

[Photo by Alexis Nyel – CC BY]

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