4.7
August 11, 2012

Quit Staring at My Yoga Butt: When Students Get Starry-eyed & Teachers Get Sexified. ~ Kellie Adkins

Much has already been written about guru-led misconduct, inappropriate student-teacher relationships and tantric cults.

No doubt about it, the above happen too often and the abuse of power for sexual gain is certainly a problem and not just in the yoga world.

Yet there seems to be a veil of silence thrown over the opposite—and equally insidious—problem: the sexification of teachers by starry-eyed students.

If you’ve taught for a time, surely you’ve seen these yoga crushes happen; you may have even been the crusher or crushee. A vigorous asana practice can sculpt a nice yoga body, and geez, we’re only human. Nice bodies get approving stares and appreciative gazes. It’s likely though that some of these “harmless” observations resulted in the scandalous, predatory relationships we’re reading more and more about every day.

Like other ambiguously power-skewed relationships, the yoga teacher-yoga student dynamic can easily slip the bounds of propriety.

Yet it seems in yoga, more than in many other professions, the use of your body as a teaching tool can open you up to the increased risk of students interpreting your intentions the wrong way.

I don’t mean to imply that the recent newsworthy scandals in the yoga world come from a simple misunderstanding. What I do mean to draw attention to is the risk of “stalker-like” behavior from starry-eyed students who feel your attention to them on the mat is an invitation for an off-the-mat relationship.

In other words, what do you do when unwanted attention comes your way despite your best efforts to remain professional?

How do you politely request “eyes off the yoga butt” when their advances are obviously one-sided and unwanted?

Some teachers enjoy and even seek out this type of attention from students; others of us just want to show up (yoga butts encased in our Lululemon), teach a good class and go home to our lovers for some mind-blowing Tantric sex. And, seriously, checking out my “T & A” is not what I meant when I said “find your drishti.”

So, what happens when a student begins to think of, or refer to, you as their “special friend?”

What do you do when s/he is sending you endless text messages or cyber stalking you on Facebook?

Where do you draw the line when the practice of teaching yoga invariably involves hands-on adjustments, e.g., touching and demonstrating poses, e.g., shoving your yoga butt in people’s faces?

Here are my best suggestions.

Boundaries. Boundaries. Boundaries.

If you think a student has feelings for you, then hands off. S/he’ll probably just misinterpret it and no good can come of an absent-minded slip of the hand when you’re adjusting his/her trikonasana.

Call for reinforcements.

If you happen to have one of those “after-class-lingerer” types, have a good friend, (or better yet, your beefcake boyfriend or supermodel girlfriend) hang out with you after class until the coast is clear.

Don’t be shy.

If things start to get really out of hand, say for instance, five Facebook messages in a day, text messages, voicemails or other obvious signs this character isn’t getting your memo loud and clear, don’t be afraid to pull out the big guns. Send him/her a very professional, super easy to understand email (and consider attaching his/her significant other if applicable.)

 

Kellie is a busy mom to a beautiful toddler, Veda, and is constantly performing her own version of Shiva’s dance: juggling her continued love of creativity in all its forms {jewelry making, writing, knitting} with the adventures of a self-directed career and a deep dedication to her family. She is the founder of Wisdom MethodTM Wellness and Yoga, a conscious evolution of mindfulness-based movement and wellness coaching which unites the wisdom traditions of Buddhism, Ayurveda and yoga, with the foundational sciences of positive psychology, nutrition, and cognitive neuroscience. Kellie leads teacher trainings and retreats nationwide and wellness coaching via phone or Skype.

Twitter | Facebook | YouTube | Pinterest | Blog

~

Editor: Thaddeus Haas

Like elephant yoga on Facebook

 

 

You must be logged in to post a comment. Create an account.

GreatNorthSky Aug 13, 2012 4:57pm

OMG!!!! As A Male Student, Understood and I Get All This. But I No Doubt Must Be Living Under A Rock. It Took A While, But The Practice Is So Important To Me, That There Is No Room For Anything Else But The Practice and The Flow That Is Being Cultivated For My Spirit That Day. My Focus Is Really Intense, I Don't See Any Of This. And In The Worlds Of Teacher/Student, Doesn't The Student Always Fall In " Fill In The Blank" With The Teacher. Don't Get Me Wrong, I Love and Feel My Teachers, Male/Female Deeply, But It's All In The Spirit Of The Practice, Learning and Expanding.

Maturity, Boundaries and Grounding, No Doubt Go A Long Way Here. It Was More Then A 1.5 Years Before I Started To Have Casual Conversations With One Of My Teachers and Even So, I Am Still Very, Very Mindful Of My Respect For Her.

Loved The Writing and Sense Of Humor.

Awesome, Thank You Soooo Much Kellie!!!!

Read Elephant’s Best Articles of the Week here.
Readers voted with your hearts, comments, views, and shares:
Click here to see which Writers & Issues Won.

elephant journal

Elephant Journal is dedicated to “bringing together those working (and playing) to create enlightened society.” We’re about anything that helps us to live a good life that’s also good for others, and our planet. >>> Founded as a print magazine in 2002, we went national in 2005 and then (because mainstream magazine distribution is wildly inefficient from an eco-responsible point of view) transitioned online in 2009. >>> elephant’s been named to 30 top new media lists, and was voted #1 in the US on twitter’s Shorty Awards for #green content…two years running. >>> Get involved: > Subscribe to our free Best of the Week e-newsletter. > Follow us on Twitter. Fan us on Facebook. > Write: send article or query. > Advertise. > Pay for what you read, help indie journalism survive and thrive—and get your name/business/fave non-profit on every page of elephantjournal.com. Questions? Send to [email protected]