Author: Randeep Singh / go to all articles on Yoga Concepts
How to Select an Excellent Yoga Teacher? Learn the Right Way
Finding a genuine Yoga teacher,
to learn Yoga is not like
any other discipline.
The challenge lies in filtering
out, from a sea of imposters, the one
who can instill the experience of this
ancient science in you the right way.
It takes real passion and devotion to
become a yoga teacher, and therefore,
identifying the one who has it in him / her is a difficult task.
Since it has been recognized and so often repeated by the Yoga authorities that the only right way to study Yoga is to find out a Guru, and to study the same personally and directly under him. The question, therefore, is how to find a right yoga teacher who will lead one on the path of Yoga.
Begin the Learning with Preliminaries
Are there any criteria for the right process of study, and for the selection of a right yoga teacher? The right way to study Classical Yoga is inherent in the very sequence of steps recommended by Yoga itself. So, begin from the very foundation, however, much one may be tempted to think that he or she does not stand in need of such preliminaries.
athere are many who have failed just because they overlooked many simple things commended by Classical Yoga as the right beginning.Consequently, attention must first be directed to one’s awareness of one“s motivation (purusarrha) from the major four so that it may act as a booster for formulating principles for the way of life one has to pursue.
After having set the perspective and the principles to guide oneself, one should begin with the discipline of the physical as would lead to such nervous control as it sustains one’s efforts at controlling of the senses and the Citta.
Experience in imparting traditional knowledge of Yoga at our Yoga Retreat near Shahzadpur, has shown that one could make a safe and successful beginning even with the aid of authentic literature. The students of the retreat , some of whom are highly advanced, even consider it unnecessary to seek the guidance of a practical teacher in the very early stages of formative study where onlt the motivation and principles are involved.
Moreover, it has been found that, in the modern age, when the time at the disposal of the individual is fairly limited and the possibility of contacting the authorized yoga teacher is uncertain, it is just as well that the study be undertaken through suitable literature dealing with initial requisites which the student of Yoga is expected to possess.
These should deal with the outline of ideology and the initial must in Yoga which should give one an insight into the way of life which Yoga recommends. More than the metaphysical intricacies, the sociological and emotional approaches are intrinsically important and authentic literature on Yoga should lay these down imperatively and with exceptional clarity. No logical or scientific doubt will then arise in the mind of the student even when one has no yoga teacher to guide oneself.
Yoga Teacher – Problem of finding the Right one
For one thing, no,literature, howsoever, academic, mystic, or high-sounding can have much value to a practical student unless or until such a literature contains a definite scheme of a way of life based on the spirit and practice of Classical Yoga. For this very reason, the same should be written either personally by, or under the guidance of a genuine Yoga teacher.
But, the claims to such authorship are so ambiguous that one does not know whose works to select and whom to follow. To be safe, only the authority of that yogin should be accepted who lives Yoga in his very life. He should be a master of complex Yoga technology and known and recognized for his achievements in the virtue of Yoga through his consistency of its principles rather than though its display and propaganda.
It does not matter then how little or much he is known to the lay public, because the average man on the street is a psychological victim generally conditioned to mass propaganda and spiritual exhibitionism. In fact, the true yoga teachers, who are masters of their subject are very seldom to be found in India – much less to have been travelling in other countries – and are, indeed, rare; and rarer still are those who can present the orthodox but classic yoga technology in such modern terms as would invite attention and inspire faith.
For another, with the multiplication of plagiarists and opportunists in India as well as in all other countries, the problem of finding authentic literature on applied Yoga continues to be as difficult as the one of finding a suitable accredited teacher of scientific Yoga. Many have wasted years in the search for both before they got to the right literature and the right Yoga teacher. It is, therefore, quite essential, during the search, to keep an open mind, and to select the literature on, and the yoga teacher with the utmost caution, if one is to avoid disappointment.
Oft-repeated deception and misteaching at the hands of the spurious end, as it must, in the total loss of faith. Moreover, tiresome search and gain less sacrifice do not only smother the very urge for Yoga study but also develop into anxiety and confusion. For the victims of such circumstances have been found to pass the rest of their lives in utter frustration and hallucination – the Reality for which they might have longed ardently and suffered so much, having completely faded from their version. Indeed, not to follow any Yoga then is better than to follow pseudo-Yoga.
Therefore, in the first instance, the student desiring to study Yoga must initially acquaint himself with authentic literature which is categorical and not casual. He should then look for his motivation of such study, and adept his way of life to accord with the Yoga principles which he accepts. He can also be begin with the elementary study of its simple practices from reliable texts just to satisfy himself that that the anticipated reactions are not a myth. Convinced to that extent, he can now venture out for selecting the Yoga teacher of his image.
In order to understand the concept of a real yoga teacher one needs to visit the concept of a Guru as explained in ancient literature. The Guru in Yoga is not a simple image of a master or a perceptor. He, for all practical purpose of the aspirant, is more an institution in himself than an individual. The position of a Guru is therefore a distinguished one and assumes the importance of reverence not only of a father, but even of a God (gurudev).
According to the traditional complex of the ancient system of education, the Guru is supposed to be well versed in all subjects so that he can guide his students as an when the need arises. Even his humble asrama was not looked upon as merely a residential hotel but a university in itself, where the Yoga teacher was the chancellor, the rector, the lecturer, the demonstrator, and the head of the family of students.
Yoga Teacher – Abode & Relationship with Students
The ancient teacher was able to give lessons to his pupils in all branches of knowledge which concerned their daily life – the knowledge of a particular subject being only a part of the whole study. The code of moral living, the duties of a householder, the social responsibilities, and, what is more to the essence of a respectable citizen were the hall-mark behind the teaching of a Guru.
He commanded deep respect not only from the students but from the society. He had his own way of selecting his pupils, was one of very peculiar qualities of a yoga teacher of the yore. His keen and penetrating intellect enabled him to study and judge each student for his real worth through evaluation of his intrinsic calibre, nature and temperament , likes and dislikes, and of his tastes and aptitudes.
There was no discrimination, nor prejudice set against the students on any grounds save on merit. Even the princes and the rich had no special position or treatment. The knowledge was inparted without any reservations and with kindness. While the Guru loved his pupils he showed little mercy at their faults.The asrama was usually set in the midst of a jungle with picturesque landscape accompanied with the splendour of nature.
The whole atmosphere was of beauty serenity, and peace. The Shahzadpur Farm Yoga’s Ashram near Chandigarh has been so constructed that it provides this unique ambience experience to its students. The actual transfer of knowledge from the Guru to the disciple was carried out without the imposition of personality, so that the students can have the advantage of modulating their own personalities, on the basis of the teachings imparted by the yoga teacher.
In fact, the Guru remained the living example of his preachings. In Yoga, this was more significant because it enabled the pupil to imbibe the essence of teachings by passing through the hard core of practice without, for a moment, doubting the bonafides of instructions. This interrelationship made the students to naturally look for guidance, and advice of their teachers in times of stress and other difficulties.
Consequently, the Yoga teacher was never changed, one for another. Till full and final education was received the pupils followed only one teacher. The Guru, in turn, wished for the prosperity and success of his pupils wholeheartedly. This was one of the reasons that he was respected by the society as a wise, noble, and sublimated person.
Choice in Modern Times
These ancient memory grooves of the yoga teacher are still cherished by many in modern times. Some therefore, look for a recluse with matted hair and flowing beard, who spends the entire day with his students. Since the aspirants themselves belong to different categories, the image of a Guru also assumes variety of forms.
So, there are some who admire a rugged, vibrant, devil-may-care, fire-walker who dumb founds his followers with his blood shot eyes glaring at them, as it were, from mystic height. Some prefer an unassuming and humble retainer who can mirror his students to suit their mood and social purpose. There are a very few who can tolerate an independent, self-reliant, straightforward, highly enlightened and pure teacher who is beyond their reach, and under whom they have to abide by certain principles and to follow strict discipline.
A modern student of yoga would look out for a yoga teacher who fits their image of him / her, and for the results – whatever they be – they should thank or blame themselves only. What has to be remembered is that, more often than not, miracle-mongering and exhibitionism are employed to parade yoga knowledge; and the voteries of a few physical practices and cheap ocultism succeed imposition themselves as yoga teacher.
It must however become increasingly realized that, in the scheme of classic yoga educaton, such dabblers have been described as misguided delinquents (bhrasta) and the very miracle and display on which they thrive has been strongly censured as most unworthy and impeditive. Therefore, in Yoga – as in everything else – leave the mmiracle aspect alone, and concentrate and act on what is rationAle, because, in the depth of Yoga, there is no sophistry but concrete realism, pure and simple.
What is more, the pomp and display of vast following and the elaborate chain of dubious press publicity along with other paraphernalia need to be accepted as the criterion of the wealth of Yoga knowledge. The reason for this is that unfortunately even Yoga has not been spared from ravages of exploitation by the unscrupulous.
Where to find the Real Yoga Teacher
So, during the search for the Yoga teacher, avoid persons and places of pretense and protocol whenever and wherever found, since exhibitionism, ostentation, and ceremonialism form no part of Yoga. In fact, do not depend upon hearsay about some great Yoga teacher in a large city or in the Himalayas. He may be anywhere.
For one thing, his supreme panoramic realisation cannot but make him a non-conformist, unattached to any religious, social, cultural, or political thinking. He fits nowhere in the multifarious groups and he is therefore likely to remain neglected and alone. For another, in him, non-violence and truth are abundantly transparent and he is never Michiavellian.
As a matter of fact, he should be found living like anyone else and so, it is mostly through his habitual equanimity and dispassion that you come to trace him. It would be perverse to always anticipate something unusual during the discovery of a Yoga teacher because a true yogin is so simple and natural that, when you meet him you wonder why you are still unable to recognize him.