I’m still getting a fantastic response from yoga teachers on what it takes to be a yoga teacher.
This week we have an in-depth exploration from Satyanada representative Swami Karma Karuna.
Satyananda teachers are amongst the most immersed in the world of yoga.
Their training is both deep and wide, taking many years to complete, but perhaps most important of all, Satyananda teachers all have a relationship with a guru, creating a direct line to true knowledge.
From Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati (courtesy of Swami Karma Karuna):
If you want to work as a yoga teacher, the first commitment you have to make is to be sincere to yoga. Otherwise you can teach, but you will not be a representative of yoga, not someone who understands yoga.
As a yoga teacher, you have to practise living yoga. Live your day with a yogic attitude, and be the witness, the observer, the drashta, of yourself.
From Swami Karma Karuna:
In order to live yoga has Swami Niranjanananda has suggested above, it is a life time or a few! of practice.
To take a 1 month or even 1 year yoga teachers training is not enough. This is the first step…
All to often, in this day and age of fast food yoga, I find people taking the first step and then declaring they are Masters!
Many also have a few years under their belt of teaching and then make their own system, name it after themselves and start their own teachers trainings. In this way the great heritage of yoga is being watered down by people who are creative and often have very good intentions, but have not yet realised fully their own potential, therefore they are passing on something which is incomplete or primarily focused on a small aspect of what yoga actually is.
It is the personal evolution that matters. While one can repeat like a parrot what is learned in a teachers training or from reading a book, the real essence of sharing with others, is to firstly teach from your real personal experience only, not just what you have read or understood intellectually. That means working hard on ourselves, being humble, willing to evolve and walking the talk in the face of difficulty as well as praise. Only through dedicated, long-term practice (abhyasa) can a person becomes clear with themselves and only through this clarity are we able to BEGIN to transmit the knowledge of yoga.
In ancient times, not only within the yoga tradition, but with most imminent lineages, cultures, and spiritual traditions, teachings were passed on from master to disciple. These Masters did not do a 1 month yoga training and then start passing on the practices. Rather, they worked for a lifetime on themselves, submitting their egos, bodies and minds to a difficult training and only after a certain realisation did they begin to pass teachings on to the next generation of disciples.
Due to the unfortunate abuse of the Guru-disciple tradition, there is great misunderstanding of and resistance to this relationship.
However, we have teachers in society for every aspects from primary school to driving lessons, from university subjects to training for a new job.
Does it not also make sense to have a guide on the path to the deepest, currently mostly unconscious aspects of ourselves? And are we willing to go through a process with ourselves? To be truly honest and acknowledge our strengths and weaknesses? To see our egos and allow for an egodectomy? Yes, its painful, but a yoga teachers’ training course will never show any of us what it is to “live” yoga.
To be able to share yoga in its more profound sense, it takes a constant letting go process; an openness to deep evolution and an absolute commitment to that transformation through good and bad. It means sticking with a set of practices, a system, even when the mind is bored and craves the next newest fad because “its amazing” for a moment!
I do believe, that basic practices can be shared for the benefit of society without having a Guru, however, at some point on the personal path, this relationship helps one to jump from being an ordinary yoga teacher to someone who discovers the deeper levels of self understanding and is then able to share them from that more profound point of awakening.
Om and Prem,
Swami Karma Karuna has been involved in spiritual disciplines for more than 20 years and is a founding member and director of Anahata Yoga Retreat, New Zealand.
She is an intuitive yoga teacher, sharing simple & powerful techniques for transformation.
Part of her year is spent travelling internationally, including yearly stays in India, where Swami karma Karuna teaches and receives further yogic and sannyas training under the guidance of her Guru, Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati.
Simplicity of instruction, simplicity of practice and simplicity in guiding the students should become the hallmark of a yoga teacher. Do not try to show or prove that you know more than other teachers. – Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati