Thesis Part 4: Guiding without Giving, a Tribute to the Teacher

Navarathri golu

Full Navarathri Kolu

Part of Peace Studies is to be understanding of the multitude of cultures around you, especially when you are working in the field. You don’t make assumptions. Rather, you learn to observe and elicit information from a local, one who understands the situation.

In yoga, it is also important to understand the culture in which it originated, regardless of where you practice it.

“When you give, you get back.”

Teaching yoga, you give your time, energy, and heart. You end up receiving much gratitude, and humility.

In the DV situation, the group can be a little different than when you’re in a studio, a gym, a community center, or outdoors. In the latter situations, you are often only a yoga teacher. In a DV organization, you become more: a friend, a confidant, a therapist, a support, a role model.

While I didn’t specifically aim to convince students about the benefits of yoga, when you’re a yoga teacher, it comes automatically.

Yet as a researcher, I had to maintain a balance.  I didn’t want to give everything I have experienced through yoga: a connection to nature, forgiveness, happiness, and peace. For one, I thought that may skew my output (results) a bit. If I say “this pose helps you find happiness within because it’s called Happy Baby”– students may think they have to become happy. (It’s irresistible: after all, it’s happy baby!)

As a researcher, it is important to guide. You don’t tell they students what something is supposed to do or what benefits there are.

When you guide, you get more back! (and you empower).

Teaching–and especially yoga teaching– is humbling because you realize you are not doing much. In fact, you are only passing off what your teacher has passed to you and allowing space (holding space) for every student to do their own work while you watch as a guide.

I give my gratitude and humility to my own teachers who come in many forms. These people including my own yoga instructors from the Southwest Institute for Healing Arts, my thesis adviser and other respected professors, and last, but not least, my students.

This humility comes at a time in my culture when we celebrate teachers. Vijayadasmi is the morning after a nine-night celebration (Navarathri) of Devi, the Goddess Mother, who manifests first as Durga, then Lakshmi, and finally Saraswati, the Goddess of Knowledge. On the 10th day–this year celebrated on Sunday, October 17–students give Guru Dakshina, a token of appreciation and a form of payment, to their respected teachers.

My home kolu

Side Kolu

Me amidst the entire kolu 2005To all of you, I give a yoga class! Contact me to bring yoga to your home or neighborhood, or join me for all ages/ all levels yoga on October 17, 7:30 - 9 am, Sunnyvale, California. Details available by email....

Thank you teachers and Happy Puja Season.

Dedicated to Lester Kurtz, Christy Burnette, Amr Abdalla, Charles Skinner, Craig Zelizer, Mohammed Abu-Nimer, and Mahmoud Hamid.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Joslin
    Oct 07, 2010 @ 05:33:12

    Love the pictures!


  2. Viswantha Srinivasan
    Oct 07, 2010 @ 12:29:40

    Dear Sowmy: I read the entire Navratri and Yoga. Very rarely, or I can say that for the firs time I am seeing something about Navaratri, Vijyadashmi and Saraswati puja being linked to Yoga in some forms. Never seen before. In this 10 day popular festival, I only wish those who follow our festivals regularaly, read this and understand the importance of what you have said. It is a great and very timely article. Your efforts of bringing Yog with nature and environment is truly laudable. Congratulations.


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