Saturday, March 03, 2007

But am I enough?

I seem to be having a problem with boundaries. This is not a new problem. It stems at least from my teenage years, but probably from even earlier. The thing is, before I was a yoga teacher, it was fairly easy to avoid situations in which I would have to enforce my boundaries - I could be a happy little doormat.

Now I find myself embroiled in a situation (not the first) with a student in which I thought I had made the boundaries abundantly clear, and the student is denying all knowledge of this, and saying I am behaving unfairly. Of course, I don't like being called unfair. At all. In fact the doormat in me (that would be the largest part of my personality) wants to start violating boundaries to make this student happy. But this time, uncomfortable as it is, I am going to stick to my guns. If I don't, situations like this will keep coming up. I know I am doing the right thing because I get an unpleasant feeling in the pit of my belly when I think about backing down and saying, 'Oh, okay, you must be right, I must be wrong - please like me.'

I think this is why teaching yoga is as much of a sadhana (spiritual practice) as practicing yoga. What have I learnt from this? Perhaps I need to put things in writing to make very sure I have been heard. To this end, I am working on terms of service between me and students. I will publish them when done - maybe it'll help some other struggling teacher or student out there!

It has been a long, long week. I think I preferred bumbling along with no desire to do the right thing. Sigh.


KB said...

Tough one. I hope that you won't need terms of service in the end. That sounds so un-yogic. However, it does make sense. Teacher-student relationships are already complicated, but throw in yoga as the subject, and it is a dangerous recipe if the boundaries aren't maintained by the teacher.

I read some really good advice on a blog from a terrific yogini about a week ago:

"…that it is always, always the responsibility of the teacher to maintain professional distance and correct relations. Always. Just as it is always the responsibility of the therapist or doctor to keep propriety in their relations with clients or patients."

There's good karma in following that advice. Although, it probably isn't easy to execute.

Best, KB

Nadine Fawell said...

Nothing like having your own words come back to haunt you! But this is indeed exactly why I am sticking to my guns this time. If I don't maintain boundaries, nobody will.

Thanks KB

kim said...

Nadine, remember the only thing you can control is your responses. If other people are abusing boundaries it really is their issue. Sorry this is happening to you but boundaries empower both parties because expectations are clear. Perhaps this is just part of your journey as you move from strength to strenght as a teacher. hang in there.