So, I was recently asked to give a presentation to a group of teacher trainees on a topic I love to teach. The studio asking me let me know that they wanted to film the presentation, so it could be shared with others who were not at the meeting. I later heard that there were some other presenters who had declined to be filmed because they felt the information they were sharing was proprietary to them. The experience brought up many questions for me about what yoga is, who ‘owns’ the teachings, and the ways we are going about sharing information that’s been given to us.
I can see both sides: On one hand, teachers pay lots of money to study, often taking multiple teacher trainings, and spending hours pouring over ancient yogic texts. This information has come at a cost for them, and they want to be able to earn a living from their hard work and study. Many teachers are teaching full time with families to feed, and they need to make a living as householders.
Some yoga teachers even develop and brand their own systems of yoga, then make their livelihood marketing it. Take for example Bikram Choudhury and his copyrighted set of poses taught in a heated room or John Friend and the Anusara brand of yoga. Not to mention the countless other spiritual masters who come from India to charge top dollar to learn a specific kriya or technique.
On the other hand, the ultimate goal of yoga is to spread the light, to uplift and elevate as many people as possible, to walk a path of service to the Whole. In short, the goal is to share wisdom. The word ‘yoga‘ literally means ‘union’ or ‘togetherness’. The Upanishad scriptures state that, in essence, all living beings are one and interconnected with each other.
The oldest of the Vedas, the Rig-Veda, begins with a prayer, “Let noble thoughts come to us from all sides.” One of the great Sanskrit invocations is translated:
“So let us think together, let us act together, let us be victorious together, for we all belong to that great light, where there is no place for hatred.”
So, the dilemma I face is this: I can be proprietary about the information I have and my way of presenting it OR I can share what I know with anyone who asks so that they in turn may be able to share it to far more people that I can access alone. I find myself leaning toward the latter.
I feel in my heart that I want to be on the side of generosity, as my teachers were before me, which is to me the essence of the path of teaching. What I understand is that no knowledge or information ‘belongs’ to us. In fact, I feel it is our duty as teachers to pass on as much information as we can so we can truly help people to evolve and to live more consciously each moment.
I would love to hear about how others think about this topic. Please share your thoughts in the comments section below…
Kia has spent 2 decades studying, practicing and teaching yoga throughout the world. Kia teaches at YogaWorks in Los Angeles and leads several of their 200-hour and 300-hour teacher training programs each year. Trained in both Hatha and Kundalini Yoga, Kia offers a powerful combination of asana, breath, meditation and chanting. Kia is a regular teacher at a number of different festivals and conferences including: Yoga Journal Conference, Wanderlust, Bhakti Festival, and Inner Idea Conference.. Kia’s first two DVD titles in the Radiant Body Yoga series ‘Sun Energy’ and ‘Core Energy’ are available at her website.
(cc) photo credit: martinak15