If you are a Yoga Teacher, Yoga must have transformed you in one way or another. Yoga must mean “happiness” to you, the practice and the teaching. Yoga is often related to a form of science to the ultimate spiritual transformation and awakening. This is the ultimate goal of Yoga.
However, we see through the practice and teachings of the most devoted Yogis that their primary focus is only the physical practice of Yoga. Essentially, most well-known Yoga Teachers only want a few things, to improve their Yoga Asanas, to get more students, to be reputable, to be appreciated and respected by students and people around them.
But how many Yogis really take the pursuit of “Enlightenment”, “Oneness with Universe”, “Union with God” etc, so many ways to put it, as a serious life mission.
We all know about the most leading Yoga Master in the world today and clearly none of them are enlightened themselves. In fact, they are missing the full potential of the practice and detour completely from the essence of Yoga.
Is your Yoga Master teaching you true Yoga? These are few ways to find out.
1) Is your Teacher self-torturer?
First of all, Patanjali is not a gymnast. Your teacher may be addicted to force their human like body into perfect Trikonasana to resemble perfect “triangle shape”. They have endless sets of alignment rules applicable to all human being. Essentially, they missed the whole Yoga path and mislead others into the wrong path.
Many so-called Yoga master start their teachings with identifying students’ faults and be reminded at all times of the placement of your body part without regard to your personal need and comfort.
When you are reminded continuously of the body, you are most probably uncomfortable and hence, that is not what “posture” is, according to Patanjali. Your master are not able to bring out the most important teachings that the “posture should be steady and comfortable” as stated in Yoga Sutra.
2) Is your master’s only teaching is alignment principles with great details or ambitious to get you into more and more advance postures?
It’s a hard fact, it’s true that your Yoga Teacher, which should be more appropriately termed as “Asana Teacher” are not able to teach you more than posture and more posture.
Many created branded style of Yoga based on their own practice as something universal to be applicable to all. They hold as utmost important how you position your body parts according to their alignment rules establishing no co-relation towards the true path for spiritual growth.
At most, they are only expert in injury prevention and not expert in Yoga.
3) Your master is in the list of “Yogis who do not meditate or meditate in his/her own way”.
It is not difficult to understand why your Yoga Teacher doesn’t have a regular meditation practice. They simply don’t have the time. Either they are busy striving to perfect their alignments or advancing on their superhuman poses, they need time to practice. Average teachers devote 2 hours a day to personal Asana practice and at least another 2 to 4 hours to teaching.
Many Yogis don’t have problem taking efforts to attend endless workshops, teacher training courses on Asanas but are just too busy to invest similar effort in meditation practice for their own spiritual wellness.
Against the common beliefs, Yogis haven’t really learned how to meditate because their own Yoga Teachers simply don’t meditate or do it the wrong way.
Meditation is another profound teaching which need to be guided by a qualified instructor who specializes in meditation. Life is too short to be a master of both. If your master teaches Asanas in great details, chances are, they totally neglect the last 3 limbs of Yoga Sutra of Patanjali, namely, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi.
And if they could narrate impressive passage from the Yoga Sutra and hardly digested it for wisdom beyond Asanas, it means nothing more than creating only some nice quotes for the students to interpret it for themselves.
Often, students get a wrong impression from their teachers, either expressly or impliedly that if you don’t excel in various postures, you won’t be able to get into a meditative state and therefore won’t achieve enlightenment.
Well, it is always nice to hear when any teacher teaches you that you are in meditation when you are doing your Yoga postures. It’s a common misunderstanding and if both posture and meditation equal to the same thing, then most teachers that can perform advance postures must therefore be enlightened beings. But this is far from the truth and in fact they move further away from it.
4) Your Master is not able to work harmony himself/herself and with others
If your teachers are not in harmony with themselves, practicing under their teachings only means no jokes, no smiles, no funs and no enjoyments because you must be “serious”. Everything else not taught by them (including teachings on meditation) will be rejected as not “yoga”.
Yoga is a science and it is not a religion. For Yoga, no belief is needed, only experience. You can doubt as much as you can, no faith is needed, only courage to experience it. If your Yoga teacher present Yoga in a very cult-like manner and needs you to devote only to his teachings and no one else, then he/she will rob you from direct experiment and realization of Yoga in open-minded manner and in following him/her, you are most likely as lost as your teacher.
5) Your master is a self-proclaimed Enlightened Master and promised you to Nirvana
This is a highest form of self-deception and a form of self-worshiping of the ego to the fullest. If you still believe in the myth of the totally enlightened Yoga guru, and trust that your guru is the one, ask him his enlightenment experiences.
If the experiences presented in the form of flashes of light that occur during concentration meditation practice, which last scarcely longer than a yawn, then it is not total enlightenment. If he has the capacity to induce ordinary clairvoyance, it is not real liberation in Yoga sense. It means nothing besides making students confused that they should be attaining similar experiences.
If your teacher could perceive God’s existence and have some form of direct connections with Lord Patanjali, your teacher is drown in the deepest level of self-illusion and perhaps is under serious neurotic hallucination most of the time. As such medical help may be needed.
Yoga promises full-blown enlightenment, the kind that Buddha supposedly achieved. On the path, we will understand that all experience is empty and unreal and that contemplation in that can accomplish the release wherein there is no longer ego-clinging. Here, the cause of suffering is eliminated at its very root and nature of mind and emptiness is fully realized.
To clear all doubt about the purpose of asanas practice. All the Yoga postures are not really concerned only with the body placement, they are concerned with the capacity to be in the presence. Only when you accumulate certain level of strength and flexibility through Asanas practice, you can start to move within yourself and enter the reality in meditation practice. What you want is only the body’s ability to remain in one posture for meditation practice without any pain or discomfort in the body. To achieve that, truly, you need not spend so much effort perfecting your Yoga Asanas.
It is the “blind leading the blind” Yoga industry today. Ultimately, the “whole world will be blind”.
All these while, if you have been equipped with detailed training on how to work with the body and after some time, you began to wonder “am I really happy with my life?” and “are the complex postures the ultimate aim of yoga is all about”?, “am I wasting time in Yoga?”, then you know you owe to yourselves and your students a moral obligation not only a feel good one hour class but something more meaningful which affect the way they walk and leave the Earth.
Then, you are not a crowd practicing the same thing but are wise to invest time and effort to become a “free” individual in your spiritual growth.