I am not a religious person. At least not in the sense that I attend a service regularly, or follow any specific texts, or can verbalize how my world is controlled by something greater than me. I have strong beliefs about a variety of things and my own explanation for how "it" all works, but I keep that to myself. I think religion and spirituality are such intensely personal systems, that I don't want to talk about them or, frankly, hear about them. I'm glad people believe--I probably don't believe the same thing--but if it makes them act in a kind and considerate manner, I'm all for it.
Charlotte Bell wrote a beautiful post (and had lovely responses to the comments) at elephant journal last week about yoga evangelism, that I found very inspiring--both in how I think about yoga, but also how I teach it. It sort of fits in with my analogy of yoga as a language--many different dialects, same grammar. One isn't better than the other (I exclude goofy hybrids that seem to be mostly about monetizing the practice); certain types resonate more than others, depending on the practitioner. But, as Bell notes, once you've been bitten by the yoga bug (drunk the kool-aid?), it's very hard not to proselytize. To be Born Again and want everyone else to be saved as well.
I certainly can relate to the urge to convert. And I wish most people would at least try yoga once, willingly, but I keep that to myself.
Since I don't want to be preached at, I find myself drawn to low-key classes, without a lot of extraneous discussion. More action and contemplation, and less talk. I can chose to study with a Master, or read a text, but when I go to my usual class I just want Hatha. Maybe Pranayama, but I don't really need to hear about the other limbs. I almost feel like those are my own responsibility to deal with, by myself, at a time when I'm not distracted by other people or activities. It can all come back to inform my practice, but just quietly in my head, not my ears.
So, that's how I teach. I may touch on other topics, but very little and rarely. I don't really feel qualified to teach yoga philosophy, and I think those are things best explored alone or, at least, in a different atmosphere than a hatha class. I think the physical work brings you to a place where you are more open to the philosophy and it makes sense, but I think the student needs to take it from there. I can give suggestions, but I'm not ready to lead. And I'm not sure I want to--back to the whole intensely personal thing.
Am I still teaching yoga? I think so. I see my students start to change and hear them talk about ways of thinking, that indicate something else is going on beyond increased flexibility. Maybe they don't have the vocabulary to describe it yogically, but I'm pretty sure they Know.
So when I say Namaste, I mean it, but I'm not going to elaborate, either...