Your Best Teacher is Your Inner Guru


I feel quite uneasy about the way yoga is portrayed by some teachers who act like small Gods.

They may have a considerable following, and while they pretend it's all about their students, to me, it seems they just really love being adored. These teachers have a terrible case of "guru-itis' and need to check their (inflated) heads.

Definition of a guru: A person whom some people regard as an expert or leader. To me, that's someone who has gained substantial knowledge and is the go-to person for that particular subject.

Now, I am by no means a guru, but I am a regular yoga teacher. I love what I do and am keen on making a good living in the process. I also have my faults--I have had big ego moments in my life, but there are some instances where ego is in fact, of importance. However, when you teach yoga or anything else for that matter, you have a responsibility to pass on what you know, with humbleness. You've got to keep your ego in check.

In Peter Blackaby's excellent book, Intelligent Yoga, he writes: "Being led to conform to a teacher's personal viewpoint is inevitably disempowering for the student. All the power lies with the teacher as the possessor of knowledge." Wow, that's a heck of a power trip if you let it go to your head when really this is about sharing a heart-centered beautiful art.

I often say to my yoga students, "I am your guide and not your teacher, although the word 'teacher' is commonly used to identify a skill, so I do indeed use it to describe what I do.

My aim in every class is to speak the knowledge and safely steer my students, but also maintain a balance. I want my students to feel supported, and yet entirely in control of their own practice. That way YOU are your own guru, and not the teacher.

Too many teachers spend time posturing at the front of the class in almost unobtainable levels of yoga poses, freaking some people out, and turning them off to what is an incredible discipline and practice, with amazing benefits. Have you experienced this lately?

Here are a few things I would love for you to take away from this:

Be your own guru first. Your inner teacher is king, every damn day!

Be inspired by someone who teaches you yoga, but leave it at that. Worshipping a teacher or putting them on a pedestal can get you lost in the person, rather than the yoga.

Ask yourself: Is what you're learning from a teacher allows you to advance in your own practice? Yoga isn't about performing a bunch of postures then going home. It's about experiencing yourself from the inside out. Does your teacher inspire your personal practice?

How do you feel after you leave a yoga class? Uplifted, inspired, and physically yummy? Alternatively, are you left a bit deflated, thinking "OMG, how am I ever going to be as good as the teacher?" That could be a clear sign that the teacher has Guru-itis.