Power-Trips: A Very Real Danger for Yoga Teachers and How Not to Fall Prey To Them

Yoga chitta vritti nirodhah is Sanskrit for yoga is the practice of bringing the mind to a halt.

Practices such as,

  • present moment meditation (as taught by the spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle),
  • vipassana (a noble silence meditation),
  • naam simran (repetition/meditation of a sound),
  • asana (conscious movement), and
  • pranayama (breathing exercises)

are all working towards the same goal: chitta vritti nirodha.

As a yoga teacher, my job is to introduce such tools that help students strengthen their ability to pause their mental activity.

For the duration of the class, I become the guide, a focal point that continuously reminds the mind of the present moment. By the end of the class, I remove myself from the equation and allow the students to guide themselves to their presence.

This is important because if I remain in the picture, I’m making students my followers, i.e., dependents; and, I am becoming the obstacle in their path.

It is very easy to fall prey to the power trip this journey entails. There are many people desperately seeking a savior with all the answers and will happily put you on a pedestal. They will buy your crystals along with whatever ideas you are selling. You can easily turn yoga into a religion, and many have. But, by misleading people from their path, we also deflect ourselves from our own path. We no longer move towards presence and we lose ourselves.

A very important part of a yoga teacher’s job is to keep her own ego in check and not fall prey to using students as a crutch for her own insecurity. This is why it is so important to keep an extremely critical eye on the self.

It is crucial that a yoga teacher is aware that she is insecure herself. We are all insecure and ego centered. No one is above it and no one is above anyone else. Also, no one is going anywhere, because there is no competition.

Humbling the self is a yoga teachers utmost priority. The teacher must remain a student at heart. A teacher must remain detached from praise and insults. A teacher must remain independent of student just as the student must remain independent of the teacher.

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