When Gurus Go Wild!

Written by Alyssa Ritch

The yoga instructor. I had always had a deep reverence for what they gave to the world. I had been a yoga practitioner for nearly nine years, but being an actual yoga instructor always seemed so out of reach for me. Then one year I went to a yoga festival in Tahoe, California and everybody I met asked me if I was a yoga teacher. I said no, but people continued to ask me all weekend. When I got home, I realized that I wished I could've said yes to them. So I started doing a lot of research and quickly signed up for yoga teacher training in New York City.

In my teacher training school, I felt that I had found a home away from home. A sangha, or community, of like-minded individuals with a passion for yoga. But what I loved most about it was that I felt an incredible sense of respect and admiration for one particular teacher. She made me laugh, she had a beautiful yoga practice that I wanted to emulate, and her words could move people to tears during class. Most importantly, I thought that maybe, just maybe, I had finally found my guru.

Weeks of training went by. Long hours of sweat, meditation, research, aching muscles, and homework. But every time I wanted to give up, my guru was there to remind me that my hard work would pay off soon. One day, after hours of backbends, the class took a small snack break. One student, not me, thank god, decided to check the messages on her phone. Unfortunately for her, cellphones during yoga school happened to be our loving guru’s biggest pet peeve. Actually, it seemed far worse than just your average pet peeve. This one mindless gesture actually caused my teacher to spontaneously combust. Her face turned bright red, and I swear I saw smoke coming out of her ears when she screamed, “I can’t BELIEVE you just used your fucking cellphone!! What did I say about cellphones during yoga school?! Jesus Christ. What is wrong with you people?! Can’t you go for a few hours without using your gadgets? I mean, it’s just fucking ridiculous!” The class went silent. The girl responded calmly that she had an emergency to check on, but my guru was too clouded with rage to listen.

When class resumed, everything had changed. I didn’t want a tea kettle of rage to be my guru. In fact, the whole class now saw our wonderful teacher in a much different light, and things were never the same. After the fact, she spent a lot of time apologizing for her outburst. I know gurus are only human, and to be fair, I agree with her about cellphones. But for some reason, a yoga instructor just cannot afford to lose her cool like that in front of a class.

Now I am yoga teacher and know I must treat this position delicately. People will look to me as a teacher, and perhaps some will call me guru down the road. But I am not sure that I am free to express whatever wild emotion I may be feeling. I must learn restraint. I must learn to control my anger. I must not lose my temper in front of those who look to me for guidance and peace. In my mind, I thank this teacher daily for teaching me this lesson. It is so easy to lose it in this crazy city, but a true guru must learn how to bend instead of snap. My mantra ever since has been to never become a guru gone wild.

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