Who is the Yoga Teacher?Oct 03, 2023
I have been teaching and practicing yoga for over 3 decades, taking on various roles such as yogini, householder, student, entrepreneur, community leader, life coach, teacher, and lover of life. As I interact with new students eager to experience the benefits of Ayurveda Yoga, I find myself pondering: who exactly is the yoga teacher? Are people genuinely interested in learning yoga, or are they simply looking for another fitness regime instead of finding introspection? Do people truly seek personal growth, or are they simply replacing one illusion with another? Are people wanting to transform in order to know and embrace their TRUE SELF?
Allow me to share my perspective humbly. I have been around long enough to witness the time when yoga wasn't as popular, and people would make jokes about teaching "yogurt" instead. I have also seen people react with surprise over the cost in both time and money for true yoga training, comparing it to cheaper options at local gyms without recognizing the value and depth of knowledge required to become a qualified well rounded yoga teacher.
As an experienced yoga practitioner in the United States, I often contemplate the question of who the yoga teacher is. Would someone walk into a music store and demand to learn the piano but insist on playing only what they want and how they want to play it? I believe most people wouldn't ask this of a piano master. However, in the realm of yoga, it seems that either Americans don't fully understand what it means to be a student or they lack a clear understanding of yoga's true essence and its potential for humanity. Personally, I believe it's a combination of both.
Yoga and Ayurveda are tools for personal growth, the study of thriving, the science of the mind, and the evolution of humanity. As yoga teachers, we are like the Steve Jobs of the personal development world. We are here to educate people about what yoga truly is before they can truly begin to study it. Most people don't even know what they need from Ayurveda yoga because they have no understanding of its true essence.
Further complicating matters, many yoga studios have transformed into glorified gyms to meet financial pressures. This shift undermines the true purpose of yoga, which is to transform patterns of thought, breath, movement, and consumption, leading to inner work. When students enter a studio, their desires often conflict with their genuine needs for personal growth. Are they truly open to learning?
Yoga encompasses eight essential pillars known as the Eight Limbs of Yoga or Ashtanga Yoga (not to be confused with the brand of the same name). These limbs support smooth and effortless progress through life, resembling spokes on a wheel. They include ethical development with oneself and others, physical training, breath practices, sensory consumption reduction, focus, meditation, and absolute autonomy leading to present moment self-awareness. Ayurveda complements yoga by providing guidance on what, why, where, and when to thrive. The most effective yoga teachers will have training in both yoga and Ayurveda.
Rasa Yoga, a genuine school of yoga, exists to teach yoga in its authentic form. We are not here to cater to what the general population believes yoga to be, but to offer true yoga based on excellent principles derived from yoga and Ayurveda. As my teacher once told me, if someone wants things their way, they should go to Burger King. Our intention is to teach what is genuinely needed for personal growth. Having a PhD in kinesiology or a background in dance and other movement disciplines doesn't automatically make someone a yoga teacher. So I ask again, who is the yoga teacher? Do you genuinely want to learn yoga or something else? If you truly want to learn and embody yoga, then I am here for you. Yoga is suitable for everyone, and it can be practiced even from a hospital bed. Anything that deviates from this true essence is simply not yoga, and while that doesn't make it wrong, it's important to recognize the distinction.
In conclusion, I understand that my perspective may not make me the most popular person for some readers. However, if you are a student of life, I prefer to offer you the opportunity for transformation and discomfort now so that you can experience greater self-love and live a truly fulfilling life in the future. It's about realizing your worth, loving yourself, and embracing gratitude for the beautiful life we have been blessed with. Together, let us thrive and discover the true meaning of life. With love, Padma Shakti.