Although I’m rather late with this post it’s a subject that is close to my heart. I found out about anti bullying week through my son’s school and their encouragement for the kids to wear odd socks to show how we are all different.
Ironically bullying is one of my big whys for the reason I became a yoga teacher. I’ve worked for some companies where I’ve been incredibly happy, and others where being there affected my mental health. I’m very thankful that I was in a position where with determination I was able to leave the companies where I was unhappy and there are things that I would have done differently if I could turn back time. 20/20 hindsight is a beautiful thing.
Although I’m not trained as a therapist (though it crosses my mind from time to time and is probably a subject for another post) there have been situations where a student who knows me well approaches me after class to confide a situation that they are in. Yoga teachers hold a seat of responsibility where sometimes students feel that they can confide in the teacher.
The organisations that helped me immensely were ACAS and Mind though I think that we still have a long way as a society to help those who are going through issues with their mental health and in the case of this post especially so as a response to bullying.
I would define bullying as when someone abuses their position to make things extra difficult for someone else who they are working with. Although I don’t like the term “snowflake” and I’ve seen it used even in the yoga environment, I am classed as having what is known as a Highly Sensitive Personality so I’ll get clearer here on what I class as bullying:
- Stonewalling a person or ignoring them on purpose because they will not do what you want them to do.
- Shouting at another person especially to the point where that individual is in tears.
- Piling work onto a person when if they are replaced the next person or colleagues in general do not have the same level of work.
- Overloading criticism onto a person. In one of the workplaces I was at a manager kept his assistant in an appraisal meeting for twice the regular amount of time and when the individual came out of the meeting she confirmed that the meeting had been used to criticize various aspects of her work.
- Gaslighting – I have only come across this term relatively recently and it is when an incident occurs and then the persons makes out that the incident has not occurred and that it is only in the mind of another person.
Bullying certainly has no place in the yoga world, however it happens and there are high profile cases where someone has used their position to sexually harass another person. I’ve seen a video where a high-profile yoga teacher hit another person to make his point.
The gift that is yoga is not an excuse to bully another person.
I have found that where yoga can be extremely helpful is that coming to the mat is a place of peace where we do our best to stay in the moment. I’ve referred to it as a moving meditation and the stretches and twists are a great way of release stress and anxiety through movement. Using mindfulness both in and outside of a yoga class, even if it is self-practice is a great reminder that we are in charge of our situation, even if it doesn’t seem like that at the time. Although yoga cannot directly release us from a bullying situation it does help to free our minds showing us that our breath can calm us and learning tools to protect our mental health.
If you or someone you know has been subject to bullying. Please get in touch with one of these organisations
ACAS – https://www.acas.org.uk/
Anti-bullying Alliance – https://www.anti-bullyingalliance.org.uk/anti-bullying-week
Citizens Advice Bureau – https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/
Mind – https://www.mind.org.uk