I was in a yoga class a few weeks ago. I hadn't taken from this teacher before, but I could tell she was very good and really knew her stuff, especially re: physiology and how to work with your specific issues or limitations rather than against them. At some point in class, the topic of licensing for yoga instructors came up, and she said she was a big supporter. Her exact words were something to the effect of: "I've worked hard to develop my expertise, and I want to be compensated for it. Right now, anyone can become 'certified' and teach yoga - and some of those people might not know enough to prevent their students from getting hurt."
I have no doubt about this teacher's expertise - as I said, it was clear she knew her stuff, she was way more accomplished than I,
and I'm sure she spent many many years and much effort getting there. And I have no problem with her wanting to be compensated for it. I also agree that there are plenty of sub-par yoga instructors out there.
My problem is that she wants to use the force of the law to prevent me
from taking class from those sub-par teachers, should I choose to do
so. She wants to use force to prevent teachers she believes are under qualified from teaching for money.
I could go on about how she wants to carve out a monopoly for herself and other established teachers at her level, about how licensing requirements will increase the entry costs for new teachers, causing the number of instructors to shrink and the cost of instruction for those who take classes to rise. But the only real point here for me is that she wants to use force. To stop other people from doing something that is completely voluntary and that doesn't harm anyone else. And yet, at the core of yoga's teachings is the practice of ahimsa -- non-harming.
I have to wonder how this teacher reconciles her desire to use force to get people to do what she wants with her commitment to ahimsa. The bigger question is why do so many in the yoga community -- and indeed, in Buddhist and other "enlightened" circles as well -- condone and even support the use of political force to achieve aims they believe are good?
I have my own thoughts about this, but I'm really interested in hearing from the people I'm talking about. Are you a serious yoga practitioner? A practicing Buddhist? Or anyone who is committed to the practice of ahimsa/non-harming/non-violence? And do you also believe that it's OK to use the force of the state to achieve goals you think are beneficial? If so, why?
I'm really not trying to start a big debate on the issue, although I may respond to some comments. I'm just really trying to understand the thinking behind what seems to me to be a tremendous contradiction. Please post your thoughts here!