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Being a Yoga Teacher

Yoga teachers (and anyone who wants to be a good person really) should definitely recycle. And if they are feeling rushed while cleaning out the fridge and they throw a glass jar with leftovers into the regular garbage, they should immediately cover it up with other garbage, hope no one sees and then feel guilty afterward.

They should be healthy and in good physical shape, although how they look should not be important to them. They should not spend too much time getting ready or looking in the mirror. They should not dye their hair, spend too much money on makeup, or shop in chain department stores.

They should never go to Wal-Mart.

They should be friendly, forgiving and considerate of others and their circumstances. They should never get irritated at other drivers, store clerks, telephone sales people, or anyone, really. (Although cigarette smokers could be the only exception to this rule-sorry smokers!)

When driving, they should always stop for someone waiting at the end of a crosswalk to cross the street. If they are in a hurry they should avoid eye contact until it’s too late to stop and then pretend to have just noticed the person a moment too late and appear sorry for not seeing them sooner; soon enough to stop.

They should always give money to homeless people, especially because they should not care about having their own material wealth, because money should be of very minimal importance to them.

They should be in healthy, loving, satisfying relationships and be skilled at communicating with honesty and patience at all times.

They should eat organic foods only; no white flour, processed foods, sugar, caffeine or alcohol. They should shop only at health food stores, always bring their own bags, and if they forget they should stuff everything they can into their purse and carry the rest out in a giant pile in their arms and hopefully not drop anything. Actually they should definitely not drop anything because they should be graceful most of the time.

It is okay to be vegetarian, but ideally vegan, unless they begin to shrivel away and they are tired all the time, then eating grass-fed, free range, organic meat is the only acceptable option. Under these circumstances, however, they should feel very, very guilty for taking the life of another living being for their own selfish purposes.

They should not watch TV. Especially not shows with violence or high levels of personal drama.

They should be grateful for every moment, seemingly good or bad, and see the beauty in each and every life experience.

They should not need to take vitamins because they should get all the vitamins they need from their whole foods, healthy diet.

They should have a daily asana, meditation and pranayama practice. In fact, they should wake up at 5am every morning and practice for at least 2 hours, then wash out their nasal passages with warm salt water using a netti pot, drink some warm lemon water and then eat some vegan stew for breakfast, prepare their fresh organic salad with dark leafy greens, raw veggies and home grown sprouted grains and fermented cabbage for lunch and plan to pick up some colorful fresh fruit at the farmers market to make a protein smoothie for dinner.

If they get pregnant and have a life or death craving for deep fried zucchini and ranch dressing from Hot Dog On A Stick in the mall, they should beg their husband to go inside and get it for them while they hide in the car, because they should not be seen eating such crap.

They should be very organized; because of course their outer environment is a reflection of their calm and clear mind.

They should not need the love and approval of others to be happy and they should be fully available to give love and acceptance to everyone in their lives.

They should not put anything in life before their yoga practice, ever.

They should be so passionate about sharing the gift of yoga with the world that they should never charge for teaching it because that would not be true to the spirit of the practice. At the same time they should make sure to wear organic cotton clothing, made locally by a small company who donates their profits to charity.

And if this gets complicated because they can’t figure out how to buy $95 organic yoga pants, volunteer teach, shop only at health food stores, and give their money to the homeless (and of course other very important causes) they should just go on for years and years feeling guilty every time someone suggests that charging money, making money or wanting money is not yogic. The guilt is fine, good actually, because guilt is just a sign that we are not living in accordance with our own deepest values, so the guilt that seems to be eating them alive will actually, eventually, lead them to doing and teaching real yoga and living a truly spiritual life.

These are the tried and true rules for yoga teachers (and all good people really), which I knew with total certainty not to be true but still, for some reason, tried constantly to follow for a very long time.

Who wrote these absolutely ludicrous rules? I did of course. I wrote them and I tried to follow them. Then I judged others and myself on our inability to live up to my own expectations. Then I tried harder. Often I was aware of the ridiculousness, the hypocrisy, the contradiction. But even as I laughed at it… I was plagued by it.


Please know that independently the posts in this blog are not an accurate reflection of who I am or what I hope to teach today. Each pos is a piece from the rough draft of my upcoming book, Thread of Spirit.




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15 Responses to "Being a Yoga Teacher"

  • Yoga Training Guide
    May 7, 2012 - 9:06 pm Reply

    Hey Cori, as I was on your site I came across this post and felt compelled to leave a comment about being a yoga teacher. I think we are now living in a time where teachers need to start “walking their talk”. I think the old days of “Do as I say and not as I do” are over and that when someone makes the choice of becoming a yoga teacher, that they need to accept the full responsibility of their choices and be ready to follow through. This is not about being perfect. Its about living with integrity and authenticity. How can one call themselves a yoga teacher and not act as one?

    • Cori Martinez
      May 8, 2012 - 2:55 am Reply

      I hear you Sergio. I hope you had a chance to explore the intention of this blog and are aware it is a memoir of various different times in my life. I agree that the advice we have for anyone must be applied first and foremost to our own lives and as teachers of anything that pertains to life, we have a responsibility to live with integrity. The challenge is…figuring out what that means. For a long time I was trying so hard to “live with integrity” that I didn’t notice I was missing the point. I was simply placing judgement on myself and the whole world, even though it seemed to me to be in the name of doing “good”.

  • Sanieh
    April 7, 2012 - 11:38 pm Reply

    You were the one who taught me what “Namaste’” meant and it was you who taught me humility. I later learned, once I began teaching myself and for some years that would follow, how much I too, would be plauged by my inflated ego and unreasonable ideas of what it means to be a yogini.

    I remember being vegan at the time we met when I began my journey in Hilo, Hawaii and I remember it being you who first told me “well, you need SOME meat in your diet” after hearing you order 3 burgers (presumably 1 for you and 2 for your husband, but who knows! hehe) after a class one time :).

    None of the struggles you write about showed thorugh to me. Ever. I looked at you and saw grace, beauty and always felt greeted with love. All I saw was a much more illuminated, “better” version of myself that I strived to become…only to realize much later (after my own struggles and battles within) that what I saw, admired and loved in you as my first teacher was always there within underneathe it all.

    We just moved into a new home and just today, I put up a photo of you kissing my cheek on my last day at Yoga Centered before moving back to the mainland. It serves as my reminder of where it all began for me before I made it ABOUT me. It serves as my reminder of what I went thorugh; what I HAD to go through, to arrive to a place of deep humility and grace myself in both my teaching and student-ship. It serves as a reminder of fresh beginnings without expection as I prepare to transition into the yoga that is Motherhood.

    In the words of the Gita, “No effort is ever wasted.” Your place in my life remains to be a source of inspiration.

    With love,

  • Yesel
    April 6, 2012 - 1:49 am Reply

    OMFG! LOL!! For sure……..

  • Emily
    April 4, 2012 - 8:37 pm Reply

    Love this! Sooo true!

  • Laurel
    April 4, 2012 - 5:02 pm Reply

    They should think that “Jersey Shore” refers to the actual coastline, not the addictive reality show.

    They should be embracing reality so fully, they don’t even realize what a reality show is.

    The only kind of car they should drive is their own KAR-ma!

    Awesome post!!

  • Amy
    April 3, 2012 - 8:52 pm Reply

    While I don’t share these particular values, I have my own OCD values that are totally unattainable, yet I can’t seem to stop holding myself to my own unacheivable standard. Sigh

    • Cori Martinez
      April 6, 2012 - 4:30 am Reply

      sighing with you…and hopefully the extra long breath releases some of the tension! xo

  • patsy Keehan
    April 3, 2012 - 8:35 pm Reply

    If these are the rules then I am screwed! Wow, I am glad I met you after your perception changed:) Thank you Cori! Funny!

    • Cori Martinez
      April 6, 2012 - 4:29 am Reply

      Well Patsy…I’d love to say that none of these remain as underlying beliefs for me…but that would not be true. I see them even more clearly as crazy though, mostly because I see how thoughts like this serve only to make me or others “less than” or “better than” in my eyes and that is not how I want to live. And yes, if we keep making rules for ourselves and the world to follow, we are all screwed! ;)

  • Susan McCulley
    April 3, 2012 - 7:04 pm Reply

    Hey! Have you been hanging around in my head? These are the rules for Nia Teachers, too!

    • Cori Martinez
      April 3, 2012 - 7:59 pm Reply

      Totally ridiculous!!! Thanks for reading Susan ;)

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