When people ask me about Yoga these days I almost always correctly assume that what they think Yoga is - is inaccurate. I’ve found that my life and their questions are made easier if I make a few simple things clear upfront. Despite that ‘yoga’ is seemingly everywhere, I am nonetheless forced to accept that most people do not know what it is or ignore what it is to keep alive the false imagery of what it is not.
As a Yoga Teacher I am NOT a:
- fitness instructor
- physical therapist or anatomist
- life coach
- mental health counselor
- shaman or a healer
- new ager
- trying to make a living on it
I am not a former dancer, a gymnast or a double jointed contortionist (and if I am it is of no significance to my practice).
I am no longer a person who teaches a stretch class but calls it by an ancient Sanskrit word that I don’t really understand the meaning or true importance of.
I don’t have anything to prove as a Yoga teacher except that I know what I am talking about when it comes to Yoga. If I am other things, I list and teach those things separately, respecting traditions formulated and standardized by people greater than myself. I try to allow each disciplinary tradition to stand alone, on its own. If I feel to pioneer something new, I do not name steal from another tradition already established.
If Yoga were practiced and taught honestly in this world, there would be far fewer of us involved because Yoga requires the company of the self only. Most of what we do is done all alone. It is not done in groups or at festivals and has nothing to do with aerial devises, paddle boards or unicorns.
Yoga is one’s own responsibility to complete; it is a serious thing for serious souls who are seriously trying to achieve future existence in a better dimension. Even if we are funny, fun-loving people, we must also be comfortable with the seriousness of Yoga.
So as long as students and teachers keep avoiding the Yoga Sutras, the Bhagavad Gita and the Hatha Yoga Pradipika as their sources of practicing and teaching material, Yoga will remain one of the biggest lies in our world today. These books are gurus and can be leaned upon heavily since a physically embodied Yoga guru is nearly impossible to find in this creation as it is. I have come across only one.
So I tell people - I tell them what I am not,
and I tell them what I AM:
What am I as a Yoga teacher?
- I am a student of the scriptures from which Yoga is told to me by its originators: The Bhagavad Gita, The Yoga Sutras and the Hatha Yoga Pradipika.
- I am aware of reincarnation and I study it. (If I have not developed the intuition for reincarnation I am not ready for yoga, much less teaching it.)
- I have studied, practiced and reached a point in my evolutionary process that allows me to confidently, accurately articulate Yoga to others. This is what qualifies me as a teacher, not a teacher training course or some numbers behind my name.
- I assist students in the direct, safe and controlled manipulation of the Kundalini Life Force, as this is the purpose of Patanjali’s step 3 and 4, asana and pranayama. Routing of the kundalini life force upward through the central subtle spine of the astral body can cause transcendental events that I am prepared to assist the student all the way through. I study the Hatha Yoga Pradipika for this mystic knowledge.
- I assist in the application of meditation, stages 6-8. I point the student in the direction of their own existential energies and allow the student to find themselves. I facilitate and encourage naad sound awareness (inner ring of OM).
- I personally execute a constant yoga practice. Yoga resides in my core consciousness at this point in my own personal evolution and I am in an almost constant state of pratyahara, meaning an internalized awareness and control of my personal energies and self (atma) consciousness
If you find that as a teacher you are attracting students who are needy, dependent and require lots of help with simple things like understanding postures, breathing, basic existential concerns, and lifestyle problems, you will waste much of your time teaching things to them that are outside of yoga practice. You will become a life coach or a counselor or a new age self-help teacher. There is nothing wrong with any of these things, but you will not have time to teach these types of students the Yoga. They will need other kinds of teachers and teachings. You might guide them toward a practice or teacher you feel is more appropriate.
Genuine Yoga students are tough, open minded, but specifically drawn toward yoga austerities because of progress made in past lives. They want to upgrade themselves mystically and spiritually and have faith in the Yoga method. They ask questions but are not challenging. They recognize and respect your authority as a knowledgeable teacher. They will see you as a means to an end, as a helpful direction giver toward achieving personal liberation.
Students ready for a real yoga teacher are already intuitively performing their own version of asana, pranayama, meditation and lifestyle reform even if haphazardly. They are already internalizing their attention energies. They are studying, seeking, trying to organize themselves. They are already aware of certain things but absolutely need the final direction, yogic clarity, grace and guidance of a teacher to put it all together and make it work. They are not needy! Don’t strap yourself with fakes and hanger-on-ers! These students will inhibit your own liberation and that is not what we are teaching for!
Stand tall and be selective. It is not necessarily that the student is choosing you as a teacher but rather you are approving them, or not, as a student. Release yourself from trying to make money from it, do something else for money – something practical. Your student’s genuine interest in Yoga is your payment - not to mention the graces you may receive from appreciative Yoga deities and masters.
We do not baby those who come to us as students. We believe in them as adult spirits ready to take on the greatest of challenges, Yoga's 8 steps. They are ready to let go of everything here and seek spiritual existence. If the combination of their spiritual awareness, intellect and desire is correct, they will be able to take on the complexity of yogically navigating the mind, mending it, directing it and ultimately mastering one’s way out of this dimension.
As a Yoga Teacher, these are the students I deserve and so do you.