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Finding Your Own Teacher : Danurasana Brunei

Posted Sep 12 2008 10:23am

LotusheadDanurasana did a MAHA post on finding one's teacher/s. I believe in the importance & relevance of the traditional guru / sadhaka relationship. Unfortunately in this 21st CE, most of us cannot drop everything & embark on a "Guruquest" like several teachers or kirtan walas I have studied with.

Robert Birnberg of Yogi Times has a 2 page article on the same subject in the current issue. He summed it this way ," Ultimately however, the best teacher is someone with whom you experience an easy affinity , and a natural affection . Someone around whom you breathe easier".

My teacher encapsulated it when I had the rare occasion ( he's getting busy heh heh ) on a recent birthday to chat on a one-on-one basis. I had commented that because of the growing popularity of this blog, I was starting to feel the tug of too many invites to practice here & hang-out there. His advise to me was " Go where you are happy "-

Here's Danura's take on this search:

So, if you're just starting out, though we lack the resources/yoga teachers (in Brunei ), here are some tips to guide you through finding a yoga teacher. And a TRUE one at that. This speaking from a yoga junkie.

Seek a yoga teacher, and perhaps bear these in mind, Have faith and ye shall find:

1. A teacher who is really living La Vida Yoga. They know their shit and they care about their practice. Its sincerely felt yoga and not gym instructional type yoga. Nor should it over the top new age yoga - i took this word for word from a yogi friend, Mahamondo. It just hits the spot. Terima Kasih!

In this context, i am one who is wary of teachers as such. Some do truly believe that since they have the stamina and strength with 6,000 minutes cardio, dumbells and barbells, they really do believe yoga would be a piece of cake. It’s really NOT because I have been THERE.

It is also these gym instructional type who thinks they can learn yoga through a DVD, copy and teach the exact same thing.

I thought number 1 kinda caps it all off, but I’m going to break it down anyway. Forgive me if i have set standards of a yoga teacher too high here. But. They really do exist.

2. A teacher who has a strong practice, yes yes we've established that. A teacher with practice evolves and learn from his/her own practice. If you don't have a clue to what this means, simply put, a teacher needs to find time alone with his/her yoga practice.
A teacher who doesnt will only 'cheat' his/her students.

3. A teacher who is constantly learning, constantly evolving and updating him/her self. So if perchance you come up to him/her and say, hey do you do Bikram, he/she does not say Bikram who?

4. A teacher who is a real living person with feelings, even better - one who has the occasional short spurts of temper tantrums and can/have used his/her yoga practice to deal with it. I’m not all inspired by a man in a robe who’s living in a cave/ under a tree. I’m more inspired by someone who has gone through life's ups and downs and has been there and has what it takes to encourage and inspire. (note that i do not have anything against people sitting in caves/ under trees)

5. A teacher who you trust as you also evolve in your own practice. Many good yoga teachers are not certified but they have long experience or hours with their own practice as well as in their teaching. As also being one who instructs, they are also one who listens.

6. A teacher with good dialogue. Whatever language they are using, their words has to be one that drives you, and borrowed from Oprah: opens up a Light bulb moment. Words are powerful. They either make or break you. To take an example, a good teacher stays with you with soothing words of encouragement when you can't bear to stay in warrior poses any more! If a teacher goes for a loo break instead or is just sitting there, ditch the class.

Coming from a language teacher’s background, I find it really important to have proper BASIC grammar, tense, good sentence structure when teaching in English. This attribute is something I hang to. I’m stuck with it. Aside from that. Have content in their sentence structure.

7. A good teacher would always find the time to touch you. Adjust you. Keep you going. I personally love adjustments. The power of the touch is magical. It’s second to a hug or a kiss on the forehead. This is the teacher’s personal touch. As a student, one feels special and feel almost connected with the teacher. I have had my shoulders and my neck massaged with lavender lotion and it smelled & felt so darn good. I also loved the teacher for giving me that special touch. But massaging over 10 students in a class in savasana would not work.

8. You would want a teacher to be observant and has 2 extra eyes at the back of their heads (ok, I kid) especially in a class of 10 and above. They can spot your little toe from the back end of the room and still asks you if you’re doing ok.

9. Seek a teacher with a sense of humour. Yoga teaches you to laugh if not more. It teaches you to laugh at yourself. Laugh at life’s complications.

10. And if you are really new to yoga, seek a yoga teacher who takes you by the hand and gently eases you into this world of yoga that is our birthright. A true yoga teacher teaches and shows you that during your journey, they really are not your teachers but the teacher truly is yourself. Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo.

Hope these help. Putting my teaching experiences aside, i sought out these 10 from the point of view of a learner of yoga. Teachers are after all learners too.

Danura, you couldn't have put it better. Terima kasih -

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