Some yoga teachers weave personal stories of romance, illness, and more into their instruction, while others stick to alignment and sequencing. We asked students and well-known teachers how much is too much when it comes to sharing personal info
"Teachers should ask themselves if they are telling stories to boost their own egos or if the stories are intended to enhance morale and union in the room. The line can be drawn with “karma yoga,” which is doing or teaching without expecting anything in return. When a teacher is humble and authentically shares experience without the desire for personal gain, intimate details can perhaps inspire someone on a deeper level."
–Scott Harig, Hot Power Yoga and Ashtanga Yoga teacher, Pure Yoga, New York City
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"When a teacher shares personal stories about a yoga journey, it can demystify the yoga process and the teacher. Many students feel alone in their difficulties, so it helps to hear about someone else’s challenges. But, it’s important for teachers to keep stories short, relevant, and aimed at student illumination and not teacher glorification. Too much irrelevant talk in class can interfere with quieting the mind, which negates the purpose of yoga. And when teachers allow or encourage students to put them on pedestals, it is distracting."
– Michele Pernetta, Director/Chief Instructor of Fierce Grace, London, England
"I’ve had teachers who just seem to want to hear themselves talk, either to avoid silence or because they thought they should, which is distracting and annoying. I’ve also had teachers who shared details of their lives that have touched me deeply and helped me with my own yoga practice. For example, one of my Bikram teachers shared how she could barely bend over when she started yoga. That was powerful because it allowed me to see the power yoga has to transform bodies."
–Sarah Curry, 14-year student of yoga, Miami, Florida
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"Some of the best classes I teach happen when I let go and say the rawest stuff. Whether it’s sharing my biggest fear (that people don’t like me) or gravest mistake (I was arrested for a DUI), I have the unique opportunity to bring my real self into the studio and bond through personal story. When students see teachers as we truly are, we’re able to build community and create meaningful change."
–Mark Stefanowski, Co-founder of Outlaw Yoga, Boulder, Colorado
"When I do teacher trainings, one of my goals is to help upcoming teachers cultivate the neutrality of mind needed to be impersonally personal, allowing for nonattachment. Then, sharing personal experience flows easily between teacher and students, and all are uplifted. It can be empowering and healing for both teacher and student."
–Seva Simran Singh Khalsa, Kundalini Yoga teacher trainer and integrative healer, San Francisco