What to look for in a yoga teacher, By Cara Butler
In this final instalment of conversations with my teacher, Carlos Pomeda, I asked what advice he would give someone seeking a ‘Teacher’ or ‘Guru’ in these modern yoga times.
Witnessing so many schools and lineages of yoga facing serious allegations and having terrible abuse exposed, I believe that discernment of your teacher is something to take very seriously!
With SO many yoga trainings on offer, with huge variance in quality and substance, and SO many people taking the ‘seat of the teacher’ within our local communities, regardless of their level of education or experience, I believe now more than ever we should be empowering students to seek out teachers who are authentic and adept.
“For me I think we are all going to be attracted to teachers that we resonate with, which is normal. So eventually everything sorts itself out. But if I had to look for a teacher, what I would be looking for is two things……
One is ‘insight’. I am always saying that I am not impressed by intellectual knowledge because if you can read (Carlos laughs) you can read the same books as somebody else. Of course intellectual knowledge is valuable but I’m not impressed by that, what I’m really impressed by is the insight, because insight only comes with day in and day out engagement with the practices, by ‘walking the talk’. So that’s what I always look for.
As a matter of fact the people that inspire me are the people who ‘walk the talk’ and that only comes with time and dedication. So that is what I would look for primarily.
And the second thing is, don’t be concerned with appearances. Appearances can be deceiving in both directions. Somebody might look like ‘that’s just a normal person?’ because we are looking for something exotic so if someone looks ‘normal’ it’s ‘no i want the turban and the beard’…… So don’t be deceived by that.
Or the other way, if somebody looks the part ‘Oh they are so holy’ and they sit themselves above everybody else. Don’t look for that!
Look as much as possible at…. ‘Are they happy?’……‘Do they love?’
To me those are the things that I would look for because there are so many teachers, preachers and spiritual figures that are able to give wonderful speeches and rile people up with emotion and so on but then the session ends and they go to their room to dwell in their own depression. It is not a problem they are experiencing depression but that they are not being honest about what they are experiencing.
So what is the quality of their inner life? That is not always so easy to tell of someone you don’t know. But I think it was Jack Kornfield who said ‘You wanna know if somebodys enlightened?…. Ask their family’. That’s the relevance and I really think that’s good advice to see how they live because you can’t fake that.
So that’s what I would look for, that to me speaks of the level to which you have assimilated the teachings of yoga, really made them yours, not just hold them as some ideals.
So those would be for me, the 2 main features I would always look for in a teacher.”
So there, in a nutshell, Carlos has explained to you exactly why I regard him as one of my greatest teachers.
Carlos has deep insight, over and above his high level of intellectual knowledge, he also has authentic insight gained through a lifetime of profound and committed meditation practice.
And secondly because Carlos is a teacher who sits ‘with’ you, never ‘above’ you. Carlos absolutely has the qualifications to take the ‘seat of the teacher’, supported on a foundation of serious study, committed practice, lived experience and deep insight. But rather than distancing himself from those he teaches, with a beaming smile and joyous laugh he considers we are all on this road together.
And I LOVE that he is not afraid to admit he finds Donald Trump as insulting as I do. He takes no claim to be holier than thou often telling people “Look you wanna know my foibles ask my wife, she will give you the full story (laughing), for me the joy is to share and I think that we can really enjoy that sharing without sitting higher than anybody else”.
I can think of no better way to end this series of ‘Conversations with Carlos’ than with this nugget of wisdom……. Thank You dear teacher.
“I feel such gratitude for the yoga as it has given meaning to my life. I was a teenager when I started and therefore it gives me great joy to just share whatever little I see and experience to share with others and walk together.”
If you are interested in online study options with Carlos check out his website Carlos Pomeda and from the following links
Carlos is also presenting virtually at the upcoming Hauora Yoga Conference on November 7th 2021, you can book your attendance with confidence here.
Life’s too short to shy away from the big topics….
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