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What is a Yoga Teacher?

February 6, 2012
The guru said to the disciple:
“You have three jobs.
Your first was to find me.
Your second is to love me.
Your third is to leave me.”
–Indian proverb
“..Yoga is not a spiritual tradition suited to theorists or those who are inclined to reclining positions. Yoga is for those who have discipline, tenacity, and devotion. It is a pragmatic science where everything is tested and verified through direct experience.
To comprehend the special dynamics that occur between a Yoga teacher and a Yoga student, it is crucial to understand the unique nature of the subject being taught. Yoga is not simply information that the teacher carries and disseminates separate from herself, to be left in the classroom or studio at the end of the workday. What is being taught is a state of being, a way of living, which by necessity is intrinsic to the character of the teacher. In the study of Yoga, the teacher can lead the student only as far as she has gone herself. She can point a light only into places that she herself has been willing to go. She can empathize with the student’s spiritual quest, and the issues that may arise during that quest, only because she herself has embarked on such a journey. For this reason, it is difficult to separate the professional life from the personal life of a Yoga teacher. How can a way of life and a state of being be turned on and off at whim or divested when it is convenient to do so? To truly embody the essence of the teaching of Yoga, they must, as Patanjali suggests in his Yoga Sutra, be practiced as “universal moral principles, unrestricted by conditions of birth, place, time, or circumstance” (Sutra 11.31).”
–Donna Farhi, Teaching Yoga
“A good teacher is interested only in your enlightenment. A good teacher wants you to become completely independent, meaning dependent-inward. The guru’s job is removal of the false constructions within you that prevent you from perceiving your inner soul. The guru’s job is to remind you that you are the divine Self.”
–Sharon Gannon & David Life, Jivamukti Yoga


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