while i agree with the larger view that everyone benefits, in the mean time, i become the 'whipping girl' of the other yoga teachers.
1. when speaking about our health, people often mention how they want to loose weight. they ask me how i do it, and i tell them--exercise more and cut calories. Then, they rant about how my vegetarianism keeps me thin, how they can't do it because that sort of self denial would be difficult (though, to me, it's not self denial at all, but rather self actualization), and how i should stop judging people for not being vegetarian. quite frankly, i don't think about it.
2. when speaking about the practice of ahimsa, they talk about how they work to end the suffering of others. i will join the discussion and talk about how i want to decrease my environmental impact so that future generations do not inheret my trash and potential disease and other problems that come from it. I'm told that i'm being petty and shallow and that they need SUVs to be safe because they're driving children around with all of those other peopel with SUVs which are dangerous. So, they need one to be safe. And why recycle? there's no real need. And vegetarianism isn't an environmental issue anyway. THey then accuse me of being judgemental and unyogic.
3. when i asked various teachers who now own studios for the opportunity to teach with them, at their studios, i was promptly turned down. "You're not spiritual enough in your yoga yet." and "you're not mature enough in your teaching or your understanding of yoga yet to teach for us." and "you dont' understand our theme of love and nonvoilence that we are teaching at our studio, because you haven't experienced real love or loss in your life yet." And "you can't connect with women who are mothers because you are not a mother yet; msot of our teachers are mothers." And "you didn't study with (insert name of famous yogin here), so you're obviously not dedicated enough to your practice or your students to spend the necessary money to get the 'right' education."
4. on multiple occassions, without provocation or even talking to a given person, these teachers will call or approach me to give me 'spiritual advice' about my meditation practice and my practice and application of the yamas and niyamas. i need to do X, Y, or Z thing that they're doing (like teaching their neighborhood friends for free as community service) instead of whatever i'm doing (which, right now, consists of free classes at the local senior center, the bilingual (hispanic youth) center, the local pregant women's shelter, the local AA meeting house, and offering free thai massage for caregivers at the local hospital's caregivers support group--and, btw, they don't know about this work because i don't talk about it). their big current thing is how 'we should all do community service' as a practice of yoga (karma yoga), and yet most of them consider 'working for under $50 a class' community service.
it makes sense that 'ordinary people' with ordinary shortcomings will take up yoga, gain major benefits (i've seen them) and still have major shortcomings. Heck, i have major shortcomings, which is why i'm so nutso about my spiritual disciplines. it also makes sense that these people, being touched by yoga, want to teach it.
what bothers me is that my yoga is considered problematic, such that i continually need their unsolicited 'advice' about things and their opinion of me is quite low. of these 30 odd teachers whom i know, most of them have been practing yoga for 5 or 6 years. Most of them have been teahcing yoga for 4 years or less. Most of them do not have a daily asana practice, no meditation practice, no scriptural basis, little or no community service (not that it's required or whatever, but since they've been harping on me about it), no practice of vegetarianism (which isn't per se required, but is definately considered an important element to the practice of ahimsa, which is a yama in yoga practice), and so on.
i think that i'm bitter not because they're teaching or any other thing, but because they truly see themselves as 'more yogic' or 'better than me' such that they should 'step up' and be my spiritual guides. It's true that i learn things from them, from their experiences and ways. But, it's probably true that they could learn something from me too--but they'll usually just say that i'm too immature in my life, yoga practice, or whatever else to give them anything of value.
i think that's where i'm bitter. Not so much in their various shortcomings or the fact that they teach, but rather than they look down on me, when i'm 'walking the talk' as much as i can--and striving to do more each and every day. i think that some of them are striving, but because they can't/wont'/don't dedicate themselves to a daily practice of asana, pranayama, meditation, scriptural study, and self examination, it makes it much harder to reach their aspirations. But, there's nothing that i can do about that, and i generally don't mention it.
also, they're literally pull clients away with 'special deals' and negative statements about me. of course, clients are always free to go where-ever they wish and find wahtever joy they find there. i'm not so much attached to the individual clients (though i do love them), but i am disappointed by this behavoir on the part of my peers toward me. For many of them, yoga is a hobby; teaching yoga is a hobby. For me, it's my life and livelihood--so it really feels like stealing from my body and home. i live fairly simply overall, and i'm always finding ways to cut corners and save money, but loosing clients or potential jobs because someone said "oh, you don't want her, she's immature in her practice' when i've been teaching for 5 or more years longer, when i've been practicing for 24 years, that is really hurtful and upsetting.
and that's when i'm bitter about it. i really don't care if people eat a certain way or drive a certain thing. you know? but when they put me down for doing my thing, and 'following the rules' so to speak of that which they're constantly going on about, putting themselves out there as great followers of, then i get a bit upset about it, a bit bitter.