Teaching Yoga

The art of Viniyoga® – Being a teacher

In a world where there is more and more Yoga teachers, it is very important to remember the qualities of a teacher. This is not by his ability to perform difficult posture of by doing extremely long prāṇāyāma that a teacher should be judged as fit to be a teacher. Rather it is more a question of attitude and commitment to the tradition, to the practise and to the students. As a remarkable reminder, the Haṭha-Yoga-Pradīpika (the good light on haṭha-yoga) reminds us what are the qualities of a teacher. Firstly, he has to have experience in what he is teaching, hence he is called a jñanī. This means that he has to have some experiences in what he teaches and that his teachings should not only be teaching from the head, but mainly from the heart. Then this person has to be truthworty, when you share something with him, he has to be able to keep it for himself and his word has to be meaningful (mauni). Jumping here and there, being easily attracted by the sensory object should not be part of this attitude, he should have a control of himself (jītātmavan) and dignity (gambhīra). This man should also have some principles guiding his life based on something higher (dharmādhikarin). It doesn’t mean that he has to be perfect, but his life has to be directed toward a lightness. Coherence has to be there between his thinking, his speech and action (satyapara). He should also be generous (dāta), knowing the price of things, he shouldn’t accept all the gift that are coming to him. He has to be detached (aparigrahin) from material wealth, family, friends, as he has be be free inside to help his students and to teach. He has to be stable (sthitādhi), all the upside down of life shouldn’t drive him out of his dharma. He should also have compassion (karuṇyavam) which quality has to be not confused with empathy. That is why real teachers are often very strict toward their students in order to empower them greatly and to maintain the quality of the teachings in the future. One of the most important quality is that he has to be deeply anchored in a tradition (sampradya-sevaka). And lastly, the teacher has to have faith (śraddhavān) and to practise daily (abhyāsakarin). 

Teaching Yoga is indeed a calling. This qualities only come from a commited person in a long term. That is the reason why each teacher have to have a teacher or a tradition behind to guide him to stay in the right path. This is indeed the meaning of the word guru : the one who guides you in the right path. The main idea behind is that to be able to do this, the only way is to have been guided also. That is exactly the meaning to the teacher-student (paraṁpara) tradition. This is the beauty of Yoga. 

Philip RIGO
Kaustubha Desikachar

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