In the furor to “get noticed” and have street cred, yoga instructors are often expected to display Cirque de Soleil like physical prowess. Can you do a crazy pose? Do you have mad, unusual flexibility? Then I am impressed and you are suitable to be my teacher!
While I have great respect for dedicated yogis who have developed mastery as a result of their commitment, I do feel obliged to point out that gymnastics and yoga – though they bear some resemblance and have apparently some shared heritage – do not have the same goal.
Because it is challenging to measure someone’s “inner peace” or kindness, the easier landmark becomes what we can see. Can they get their foot behind their head? Do a crazy backbend? Surely physical skill translates to spiritual evolution. Doesn’t it?
A good check in: What is the purpose of your yoga practice? Is it about physical mobility and joint range of motion? Is it about kindness? Awareness? Getting into the “flow?”
We all gravitate to our yoga teachers for different reasons. Perhaps you are seeking a teacher who pushes your physical limits. But if you are NOT seeking that experience, then why become overly infatuated by the foot behind the head thing?
A story: one of my favourite teachers offered to give a student a ride home after her class. At this unexpected expression of generosity, the student said, “Wow, that’s so nice of you!” My teacher paused for a moment, and then replied just a bit tartly, “Well, if yoga doesn’t make you kinder, then what’s the point?”