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What to look for in a yoga teacher and what to develop as a student

A few years ago, I made my Vedic birth chart and one of the things that marked me was that I would meet my guru in the year 2020, at the age of 29. Since then I have kept my eyes and heart open, and my practice up to date to receive the gift of having a guru guiding and inspiring me along the way. To mark this blog return, today we are going to talk about what makes a good yoga teacher / student. Have you ever stopped to think about it? If you are a teacher, what makes you a good instructor? And if you are a student, what makes you like the class of certain teachers more than others and how do you qualify and dedicate yourself to practice? With that in mind, I made a poll on my instagram from which the following responses emerged:

What they look for in a yoga teacher:

- Truth

- Humility

- Helpfulness

- Empathy

- Consistency

- Know how to silence

- Compassion and non-judgment

- Calm voice

- Explain in detail

Beforehand, I'm not here saying that I have these characteristics, but I write with the intention of remembering them for myself as well as giving a light to those who want to improve, especially for those who are in the first years teaching yoga classes. As well as those who are a little confused on the yogic path, or looking for a teacher with whom to practice or even do a training.

So let’s begin, is there any mention in the sacred texts about the qualities to look for in a teacher? Yes, as there are also qualities that the teacher must find in an aspirant. According to Georg Feuerstein, yoga is not neutral when it comes to values, it is encapsulated in moral considerations. In the tradition of Vedanta, the path of Jnana Yoga (yoga of knowledge), the aspirant must have the capacity for discernment, a certain degree of detachment, and the desire for liberation as well as the following six qualities:

- tranquility,

- self-restraint,

- inner renunciation,

- patience ,

- concentration and

- faith.

The guru does not seek all these qualities to be mature in the disciple, but a seed, an indication that these qualities are present. Therefore, before we seek the perfection of our teachers, as students we must observe these qualities in ourselves, since yoga is also a path of self-responsibility.

In one live, one of the Tantra teachers I like a lot, Christopher Wallis, got the following question: is there a code of conduct for Tantra teachers? To which he replied that there was not a manual that limited what the teacher could ask a student, because traditionally the teacher can be very harsh and give very challenging tasks to a disciple to overcome the ego and transcend it, as a means of self-knowledge. To give an example, some teachers have the practice of taking their pupils to meditate for days on the edge of a cliff totally naked only covered with ashes as a way to overcome the fear of death. It seems radical, but it is often these practices that take us to a new level of consciousness. However, there are precepts of conduct listed and discussed in various texts and scriptures about the qualities of the guru: a word that literally means "remover of darkness", or "heavy" in the sense of having a strong gravitational field around.

Essentially a good teacher is one who has the best in mind for their pupil, and uses all their resources to develop and guide them to self-realization. Some of the characteristics of the ideal teacher cited by different texts and scriptures are:

- knowing the scriptures;

- knowing how to apply mantras;

- be of easy access;

- dispel illusion and doubt;

- be compassionate towards all creatures;

- have conquered internal enemies (desire, ambition, illusion, anger, pride and jealousy);

- be devoid of anger, fear, pain, ostentation and selfishness; not being attached to women (since we were talking about male teachers), wealth, addictions, bad company, etc.

In this speech, Christopher makes it clear that it is not necessary for the teacher to have achieved all these characteristics one hundred percent, but for them to work on them with great vigor and commitment. As in the student, the seed must be there, but in the case of the teacher this seed must have already been watered and started to grow and blossom. It is important that this teacher does not act on their most primitive instincts, or that they know how to deal with these impulses wisely.

It is interesting that this is related to the qualities that came from my survey: truth and consistency. There is no way to talk about any subject in class if we are not looking for that knowledge outside the mat where the real yoga happens. The yoga teacher (not the posture teacher) has this quest, this thirst for self-knowledge. He is not a perfect person, but someone who is really looking, someone who does not settle for being stuck in the same mental patterns, and by having sought so much and found some answers themselves are then able to help and guide others in this quest.

Nowadays, you don't need to go to a cave and isolate yourself for years, but you do need to have your daily practice, you need to study, meditate, read, inform yourself, take courses and most importantly (and most challenging): apply all that knowledge in your life and live yoga on a daily basis. Look for a teacher who is aligned with these ethical values, someone who practices what they teach, who doesn't use yoga as a means to promote themselves for egoic reasons. And as a student, do your best to develop the qualities of the ideal aspirant and work on them, water this seed, and trust that “when the disciple is ready, the master appears”. The true teacher is the one who guides you towards that truth that is already and has always been latent within you.

Well, that's it! Let me know your thoughts, if this text brought you any insight or any reflection, and feel free to write me any doubts or suggestions. I will love to know!

Gratitude for being with me on this journey,



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