Christina Sell was one of the first Anusara teachers to resign, in October of 2011, before the main controversy began. She’s just offered a really lengthy blog post, to which many have responded, puzzling over boundaries in the role of the teacher in relationship to the student. These musings are only tangentially related to the controversy. Particularly because one of my teachers often refers to her written work, because I enjoyed her comments in the Anusara documentary, and because I know those whose lives have been touched by eating disorders, rumors of an articulation of Sell’s views make me sit up and take notice.
…Sometimes I wonder, what are we actually doing in yoga? Are we teaching the asana? Are we teaching philosophy? Are we creating community? Are we exploring deeper themes of relationship? Are we practicing intimacy? Are we sorting out parent-child wounds? As a student, if my feelings get hurt, do I look at myself or do I look at the teacher? And to what degree? And where do I process that? In what way do I communicate my insights? When do I speak up? When do I just find another class or studio or program to go to? What if I am enrolled in a long-term professional training and I am worried that conflict will mar may chances of success within the program? What if I am certified in a system and there is no established mechanism for feedback? And so on.
As I look to embark on my own journey of teacher training, I find myself profoundly grateful for the questions she raises. But this question of boundaries is a tricky one to the extent that there may be value in sidestepping those inherent in other pursuits.
In a few short weeks I will be beginning teacher training…. The prospect of this undertaking has given me pause, which is to say time for introspection. In my better moments, I think that the current state of the Anusara diaspora makes this the best time to be embarking on this journey. All such questions have come to the fore. It is a luxury, therefore, to have you lay out so many such questions for examination. I have scanned some of the names of the respondents here—I haven’t even gotten to those.
I am grateful for your raising many of these, and hope to be able to roll some such considerations into my introspection, before formally embarking on my journey.
While I still seek to better articulate my own reasons for seeking to teach yoga I do have some provisional thoughts. I already teach college students an academic subject. Yoga affords me the opportunity to reach a wider variety of students without the constraints of that subject and that discipline. Where are the boundaries in that framing? That is an important question I shall now need to explore.
Sell’s lengthy post has an unvarnished quality that enhances its deep honesty and authenticity. I hope to continue to return to it, particularly for the enlightened commentary, which as I have indicated, I have not yet read. I hope that teachers and students, particularly those in the Anusara diaspora, will similarly find in it a touchstone.