To be a Yoga Teacher

Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

What are the qualities of a yoga teacher?

You will find the answer in the book Jonathan Livingston Seagull. He was a brash young seagull, who wanted to learn how to fly the fastest. He went through many situations in life where there was both success and failure, and eventually he became a master. When the young seagulls came to him to learn how to fly, he simply told them, "Let us begin with the basics."

A person who can say, "Let us begin with the basics" is a true yoga teacher. A person who tries to fulfil the expectations of the students, forgetting the basics, is not a yoga teacher.


Every system has a discipline. When we start to learn mathematics, we do not jump to algebra or higher mathematics straight away. The teacher will have to start right at the beginning with simple basic arithmetic. That is how a yoga teacher should be. Yoga teachers must have a plan and stick to it. They must not change it according to the student's opinion. We are caught by the opinions of other people. We think that if we don't teach what they want, they will go to another teacher and we will lose our income. This is a big phobia in the minds of yoga teachers. With this attitude they can't teach yoga properly.

Yoga should not be restricted, limited or altered according to the needs of people who come to the class. We should have a plan, and in that plan always begin with the basics. We have to be simple yoga teachers. In the learning process, it is all right to learn the intricate details, the different methods and means of doing something, but when it comes to teaching, we must always begin with the basics. If a yoga teacher becomes more complex, it goes above the student's head.

Simplicity of instruction, simplicity of practice and simplicity in guiding the students should become the hallmark of a yoga teacher, not trying to prove that he knows more than another teacher.

7 November 2004, Ganga Darshan, Munger