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Teaching Hatha Yoga - Beware of Unbalanced Praise

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By : Paul M. Jerard Jr.    99 or more times read
Submitted 2011-03-12 14:13:03
What is unbalanced praise in a Yoga class? If you teach classes, you may have learned about "unbalanced praise" in Yoga teacher training; but let's go over the basics. Essentially, unbalanced praise is favoritism when one student is praised, above all others, by the teacher. There is a flaw in this method in that the teacher does not see the big picture.

By "the big picture," I refer to the full scope of what the teacher is doing. As teachers, our words and actions create "chain reactions." Unbalanced praise can make one student feel less worthy, while another student begins to have an inflated ego. This ultimately brings the whole class out of balance. It is only human to seek approval of our worthiness.

Who is the class for? Yoga classes are designed to enhance the lives of every student in attendance. We want students to become self-aware, but Yoga teachers should be examples of complete consciousness. We must understand the Law of Karma and the principles of cause and effect, at all times.

Imagine teaching Yoga classes and reading the following statement:

"I currently attend Yoga at a studio and as often as I try to not be bothered by this, it seems my Yoga teacher always praises certain students and often times, completely leaves others out. I happen to be one of them who are left out. I always stay present, reminding myself that I am not there to receive praise.

I would like to believe that I am not dependent on the teacher's praise. However, because this happens often and many times, it seems I am the only one the teacher does not praise; it's hard to not at times take it personally. I often feel that my teacher's actions send a message to those that are left out, 'you're not doing well enough.'

This bothers me because I believe teachers should always find ways to encourage students, that no matter where they are in their practice, they are doing a good job, too. Also, the message to those who regularly receive praise is 'you're great,' which in my opinion, could also lead to performance and competition.

I would rather be on the side that I am on because it does challenge me to remember my reasons for practicing Yoga, and it keeps my ego in check. I am just curious how you could help me see this from a perspective that would enhance my practice and keep me from becoming frustrated with my teacher, at times."

What is the objective of teaching Yoga? The objective of teaching classes is to end suffering or to reduce it. If I received a letter like this from one of my students, I have completely missed my objective. When a student feels welcomed, during and after a Yoga class, he or she will realize this is the right place to be.

If every student is doing his or her personal best - that is worthy of praise. Just making an appearance is better than most people do. When you praise students, make sure it is spread around the entire group.

If you are a Yoga student who feels left out, you may want to seek out another teacher or speak honestly to your current teacher. Although, there is a possibility that any suggestion from student to teacher might not be accepted, some teachers encourage open dialogue. No matter who we are, the ego can throw constructive suggestions aside.

If you feel an honest talk will not go well, it may be best to sample some other Yoga classes in your area. It's only human to feel hurt when we are not praised, while others are. If what you are receiving from Yoga class hurts, and is challenging your self-image, you would be better off practicing at home with DVDs, friends, or family members.
Author Resource:- Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500, is a co-owner and the Director of Yoga Teacher Training at: Aura Wellness Center in, Attleboro, MA. To receive Free Yoga videos, Podcasts, e-Books, reports, and articles about Yoga, please visit:
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