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May all find the teacher within to guide oneself towards unconditional love and peace

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

About Yoga Teachers




There are many yoga teacher training schools and yoga teachers in the world nowadays. It is a good thing to encourage more people to involve in yoga practice and sharing yoga with many others.


Basically anyone also can walk the path of Yoga as well as sharing the journey, the joy and benefits of Yoga with other people. Not necessary that everyone who wish to share their very own personal experiences and insights that they acquired from their sincere practice of Yoga have to go through a so called recognized yoga school or ashram, to attain some paper certificates or recognitions to qualify or allow them to share Yoga with others. Because self-realization or enlightenment is not to be found in any school or ashram, but it is in our hearts, our inner Self and it cannot be issued or guaranteed by anyone or any organizations, but it depends on our very own sincere practice and self-inquiry. A person who doesn’t know how to read and write or speak any languages or hasn’t gone to any educational or training school may still attain self-realization within his or her heart.


The real school, real ashram, real teacher and real God is within our Self. There is no need any paper certifications, or recognitions, or qualifications for an enlightened Self to share Yoga or Dharma with any living beings within the world or out of the world. We don’t learn compassion and wisdom from a school or ashram but it is in our life and in our own practice. No one taught us about happiness and suffering, no one can give us happiness and suffering, it is all within our own self. Attachment and non-attachment, likes and dislikes happen every moment in our hearts, in our mind. It has nothing to do with our teachers, the schools or the ashrams.


But yoga schools and ashrams are a place for anybody who wish to learn about yoga and to build a firm foundation for our own practice, not so much about the skill of teaching yoga to others. Because as we advanced in our own practice and attain insights, very naturally we will know how to guide others into yoga practice and sharing the greatness of yoga with others. We all are naturally a “yoga teacher” if we want to call ourselves with such a name, if we have loving kindness, compassion and wisdom, and are sincerely and selflessly helping others to come out from miseries and to walk the path towards self-realization. In the journey of Yoga, we will learn how to go beyond all names and forms and become selfless.


Most important is that anybody who wants to become a yoga teacher must have a pure intention and compassionate heart for wanting to share the knowledge of yoga practice with other living beings. It doesn’t matter if we are not perfect yet.


But before we are able to share this knowledge with others, we should have had a deep understanding of the yoga philosophy and have had direct personal experiences in the yoga practice before we can actually guide others into the path of yoga. We should be teaching and not preaching.


Teaching yoga is definitely not a worldly profession or a job like being a fitness instructor in a fitness club teaching exercise classes for money and fame (though there is nothing wrong with this), but it is to be able to share the greatness of yoga with other people who are in search for true happiness and to guide them how to transcend suffering – as a selfless service to all the living beings even though we may be receiving some fees from teaching classes to maintain our living and for ourselves to continue learning.


Yoga classes is a spiritual path, self-purification and self-transformation disregard whether we are religious or not, having different religion or not, and not just stopping at the surface of physical trainings or activities.


The main practice is self-control, purification, concentration and meditation. All these will lead us to attain wisdom and self-realization.


Purification is about eliminate negativity and ignorance such like selfishness, anger, hatred, lust, greed, jealousy, depression, arrogance, attachment, evil thinking, actions and speech, and fears and worries.


The main teaching of Yoga is truthfulness, selflessness, non-duality, non-attachment and control of the mind which also lead to control of the actions and speech.


Selflessness is about eliminating the ego and non-identification with the body and mind, as well as renouncing from the fruit of actions.


Non-duality is about non-attachment towards the good and bad qualities of names and forms, the likes and dislikes or craving and aversion of the body and mind upon coming in contact with comfortable and dis-comfortable sensations through the senses. It is going beyond what the mind perceives as good and bad, positive and negative, success and failure, praise and censure, happiness and suffering...


And thus, as yoga teachers we should possess the positive qualities of truthfulness, cheerfulness, positive thinking, patience, loving kindness, compassion, wisdom, open-mindedness, self-independence, equanimity, courage, confidence, humility, gratitude, adaptation, tolerance, correct understanding, right effort, respect, acceptance, forgiveness, non-judging, non-comparing, non-competing, non-criticizing, non-expecting, calmness, peacefulness, selflessness, purity of thoughts, actions and speech, non-attachment, fearlessness and worry-lessness.


It is not so much about achieving perfection of the strength and flexibility of the physical body (because no matter how strong and flexible we are and can we perform highly skillful and complicated asana poses, this physical body will still have to go through old age, decay, illness and death (impermanence) – we should be non-identified with the physical body and the mind) but to appreciate the good health and the strong and flexible body to perform selfless service and for our own self-inquiry for self-realization.


And it doesn’t matter about what type of qualifications or certifications that a yoga teacher had acquired from which school or ashram, it doesn’t really indicate that we are good and genuine yoga teacher or not. It doesn’t guarantee us self-realization or enlightenment (it depends mainly on our own effort, understanding and practice). And it is not that someone has been giving yoga classes for a long time will be more experienced or is better than someone who had just started teaching. It depends very much on his or her own practice and correct understanding of the teachings of Yoga (insight), and also his or her pure intention to share yoga with all that define whether he or she is truly a yoga teacher or not. There’s no such thing as “good yoga teacher” and “bad yoga teacher”. There should be no comparison, competition, and criticism among yoga teachers. And yoga schools and yoga centers are not suppose to be a money making business and having competition and jealousy among themselves. Everyone are sincerely sharing the greatness of yoga with different people who have different karma, personalities, needs and wants. We all are the instrument to help spreading the teachings of yoga to other living beings who are interested in the path of Yoga. We all are learning from each other and whatever we do, it should be ego-less, renounce from the fruit of actions and to go beyond all the qualities of names and forms. There is no superiority as a yoga teacher or advanced practitioner and there is no inferiority as a yoga student or beginner practitioner. After purification of impurities and negating the ego, we all are the same one pure consciousness without attributes, beginning-less and endless, and whole.


May we bring peace and happiness to all living beings and move towards self-realization together. Our duty is to promote love, peace, happiness and harmony into the hearts of all living beings in the world.

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My husband and I run ongoing yoga retreats in Langkawi Malaysia. We teach traditional Hatha Yoga - a combination of Asanas (postures) and Pranayama (breathing techniques) and relaxation, that has given benefit to millions of practitioners over thousands of years. Our yoga studio is situated in Langkawi. We also run yoga retreats in Europe and India.

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