dana, gratitude, and love offerings accepted

As a practicing Buddhist, I’m all about dana (pronounced “donna”) — “unattached and unconditional generosity, giving and letting go.” that is how I make payment at Spirit Rock Meditation Center for my Mindfulness Yoga and Meditation training.

in my last post, bindifry made some very pithy comments about students showing gratitude to their teachers, and I agree 150% with her:

“part of the yoga path is gratitude. it is very important to express that to your teacher.

something most yoga students do not understand. often we are left quite empty. many students never even say “thank you” after a class. it’s sad, really.

I study with an amazing Aussie teacher. part of her teaching is a gratitude circle at the end of the cycle. everyone sits in a circle and must show gratitude to the teacher.

and when you receive shakti from your guru, the respectable thing to do is kneel before him and touch his feet. it’s dharma.”

“I just find it quite alarming how many students, rather than saying “thank you” instead say things like “why didn’t i get more adjustments? i paid my money just like everyone else”

sorry, but yoga teachers are also human beings…people need to be educated about etiquette. other cultures do not have this issue at all, as teachers are considered the highest form of professions.”

“yoga teachers are people like the students and that for students to say “thanks” goes a long way, even though i have learned to live without the gratitude. students don’t tell their teachers thanks or even acknowledge them as their teachers far too often. they do not know that gratitude, like santosha, is part of yoga.

“everyone sits in a circle and must show gratitude to the teacher” — how many of you can honestly say you would feel comfortable doing that? I know that many Americans have a hard time wrapping their mind around the idea of their yoga teacher being their “guru”, but that’s Ego, pure and simple. and fear. “guru” is Sanskrit for teacher, someone who has “great knowledge, wisdom and authority in a certain area, and uses it to guide others.” nothing more, nothing less.

I believe that lack of gratitude or lack of acknowledgment is definitely an American/Western thing. it’s not that way in India. this American yoga teacher has no problem whatsoever touching the feet of my teacher, an Indian from Chennai who was an original trustee of the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram, when he comes to teach in Chicago. I wrote about my own feelings about being a good student here.

so it gets my thong in a knot when I write about pay for yoga teachers and I’m told to “be content” or have “santosha”, just accept what is given or not given to you. I DO have santosha, in fact, I feel I am blessed to be able to teach yoga. but like bindifry says, yoga teachers are also human. think about that.

I am blessed to be teaching now at a studio where if two students show up, they thank me for being there, for driving 45 minutes and spending my time with them. this is in stark contrast to the studio where I used to teach where the upper middle-class women had a huge sense of entitlement.

support your local yoga teacher and show her or him some love. that’s all I’m saying.

addthis_pub = ‘yogagal60510’;

11 thoughts on “dana, gratitude, and love offerings accepted

  1. I agree in principle, and had been thanking my teachers recently before coming across this post. However, I have a problem with the <>must<> in “everyone sits in a circle and must show gratitude to the teacher.” If everyone <>must<> do it, then it loses its meaning. Instead, I think people need to learn respect, and I don’t think it would take much. Most people are good at heart, they just need a bit of encouragement. Not sure how to make that happen, but forcing it would make it less meaningful.


  2. “it gets my thong in a knot”hehe.linda, i did not want to stir up controversey and it seems like i’m one pissed off yoga teacher. but it gets tiring being told all the time (not by you) that we are supposed to teach for free (remember woodstock when the audience believed the music should be free so they tore down the fences) and be happy all the time, to turn the other cheek when someone slaps us, but i’m kind of tired of the bruises myself. the best experience i’ve had teaching was in japan. because when every single student enters the room, no matter how quiet they are, they shout “arrigato gozai mashta” and that is exactly the way they leave as well. backing out the door, making eye contact with me always and bowing. (translation-thank you very much) such a small and easy thing made a huge difference to me. and i was always referred to as “sensei” which was a high form of respect.and there are a lot of people who do not like dena partly because she’s very tough and holds that mirror firmly in your face, but they don’t think they should be forced to tell her “thank you” and tell her what it means to them. they think she is looking for compliments. sadly, these people are missing the point.


  3. @steven:“Not sure how to make that happen, but forcing it would make it less meaningful.”I was involved in something like that once — the studio where I taught had a holiday (or anniversary? can’t remember) party and the owner told all the students to get in a circle, with the teachers in the middle, to thank us. I remember people being rather uncomfortable with it and she never did it again.@bindi:honey, I get ya. and never fear about stirring up controversy at my blog! hell, I’ve said that the American yoga scene is ageist and racist (well, maybe not racist, but it sure is a white thang.)maybe we yoga teachers SHOULD get pissed off more often. and a good teacher, ANY TEACHER, should absolutely hold up mirrors to their students’ faces and make them uncomfortable sometimes. otherwise, there is no learning…;) in my classes, when I teach the dharma, I throw out tough questions to my students, not expecting any answers, but challenging them to examine themselves. if someone is uncomfortable with that, oh well.


  4. p.s. as for getting pissed off….at Spirit Rock in California Jack Kornfield told us that anyone who is on a spiritual path and thinks they should never get mad, never get sad, never have a less than positive emotion, really has a kindergarten view of spirituality. I love that.


  5. people often are uncomfortable being forced to give thanks. and if they want to take a pass, they are allowed to simply say “i pass” and some people do that, so i guess force is a poor choice of words. my bad. however, what happens during this circle (i have been through it a dozen times) is an outpouring of love, feelings and lots and lots of tears from everyone. because i think most people want to give thanks, but they are somehow stifled, and do not know how. so when they finally do, they break down into a puddle. which is very very healing for everyone. and it IS uncomfortable, but aren’t many of the asanas uncomfortable, too?and linda, i love what jack kornfield said. thank you for sharing that.i think you and i may have a future together. you feel like a soul buddy to me. that does not happen very often. cause i’m kind of the big bad wolf of the yoga blogosphere.


  6. “i’m kind of the big bad wolf of the yoga blogosphere”a friend gave me the nickname Loba (Spanish-feminine for wolf) because he said “wild women and wolves are often misunderstood.”and I didn’t subtitle this blog “cathartic musings and occasional rants” for nuthin’…;)


  7. Thank you for sharing. I really enjoy reading a teacher’s perspective. Too often, a teacher after class is surrounded by other students looking for conversation and tips, it’s hard to sneak in, smile and mouth ‘thank you’. I’ve been a student for 2 years, and I try to be mindful towards the teachers. You’re blog reminds me of the situations a teacher faces, and how as a student, I can make things easier on my end. I have wondered what else a student could do to show respect, in addition to general politeness, without bring too much attention to it.


  8. I agree with stevencx about obligatory gratitude. My teacher’s asked me if I mean it when I say something about how great it was after every class. The truth is that, yes, I mean it absolutely. In fact, I’ve never been to a yoga class where I didn’t feel grateful to the teacher afterwards. However I can understand why she’d be unsure, from hanging out with too many new agey types who have the kindergarten view of spirituality that says “be positive at all times” no matter how you might actually be feeling. And, while I’ve never been in a yoga class that sucked, where I thought the teacher was incompetent or not really invested in teaching yoga, if I were in such a situation, and we had a gratitude circle thing at the end…I probably would, for the sake of the manners I’ve been taught, and a general desire to avoid unpleasant scenes, insincerely express my gratitude even though I truly felt I’d been ripped off….


  9. thanks for sharing, i like to read your articles! and i agree, we have to take care of each others and it is nice to thanks and to be thanks when it is your turn to teach


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