Some very depressing things have happened in the Yoga world over the years including abuse of power and abuse of students; devastating blows to the sanctity of the teacher/student relationship; all trust destroyed. Bikram Yoga Teachers have perhaps been forced to fast track ‘self examine’ in ways beyond most Yoga teachers lately, like no other Yoga community perhaps? (because there are large numbers of us?) Ok ok, that is just not a true statement.  Think of the teachers from the schools of Kausthaub Desikachar, John Friend (Anusara), Dru Yoga and the absolutely heinous crimes of the disciples of Swami Satyananda Saraswati at Satyananda Yoga Ashrams  (I’ve got loads of Bihar books; still seriously deliberating do I burn/bin/hide them? They were considered ‘classics’ but now the door is open for others to rewrite/repackage/sell the content as the Bihar publications being boycotted by many).  Manouso Manos of Iyengar Yoga Institute of San Francisco (BKSI’s right hand man in America), Ruth Lauer-Manenti of Jivamukti. There here are others and unfortunately there will likely be more uncovered.  {since I wrote this sadly Vishnudevanda (SivanandaYoga) and Yogi Bhajan (Kundalini) have been added to the lists} Teachers from those disciplines must have been left reeling as the stories unfolded.  It is not just the shock of who the perpetrators are but their inner-circle who themselves are high profile/famous teachers who conspired to keep “stories” under wraps and even so called self appointed “representatives” of the Yoga community at large or so called “regulatory bodies” doing nothing or having totally inadequate responses when initial reports are made. We have learned much about ourselves and how we interact with the world around us in these difficult times.

Undoubtedly, the Yoga student AND teaching world is attractive to many for right reasons AND wrong reasons; motives, ethics, morals vary.  False ‘prophets’ abound since time began, so too false teachers. ANYONE CAN ATTEND A YOGA TEACHER TRAINING COURSE.  Yoga teachers, students, courses are as vulnerable to exploitation as any organization.

I write this piece to help you be a more discerning Yoga student and hone your instinct.

According to yogic teaching, nature is composed of three qualities or GUNAS.

SATTVA, RAJAS AND TAMAS exist in everything.

Sattva manifests as purity and knowledge

Rajas manifests as activity and motion

Tamas manifests as inertia and laziness

These qualities always exist TOGETHER.  There cannot be PURE Sattva without Rajas and Tamas.  IT IS A BALANCE.  We are all under their influence and will remain bonded to them so long as we are attached to them. TRUTH lies BEYOND them.

HAPPILY, we are able, through increased consciousness, to adjust the levels of the Gunas within us.

Hereafter the Gunas are described in a template if you like of the types of teachers and types of students for your consideration because choosing a right teacher for you as a student is very important. IT CAN AFFECT YOUR WHOLE LIFE.  Start your training with your right teacher.  Choose your own path.  I cite heavily hereafter from my Sivananda training notes (remember ‘tho, the Gunas exist TOGETHER, not in isolation).

SATTVIC STUDENT (A) (GUNPOWDER)  A rare student. Very little work required to reach perfection.  It takes only a spark to set the gunpowder alight.

SATTVIC STUDENT (B) (Dry Wood)  A highly evolved person who is endowed with discrimination (between the real and unreal) and dispassion.  A Sattvic student knows there is no magic formula for liberation.  The experience comes through discipline.  He goes to a teacher in order to experience the teachings. He is not a blind follower. He does not merely imitate.  The Sattvic student asks questions and works for his own salvation. Sometimes the answers cannot fully satisfy at that point in time; as he evolves the full meaning of the teacher’s words are experienced. Growth is in the students own hands but he goes to the teacher because he knows he can advance through the teachings and through taking on a certain way of life.

SATTVIC TEACHER (A) This type of teacher has no hypocrisy, is highly spiritual and is unable to come down to the level of normal people. Only the highest gunpowder student can be taught by them and be able to understand them. Gunpowder student need very little work to reach perfection and this is very rare.

SATTVIC TEACHER (B) This teacher has studied all the scriptures and experienced the inner silence. For these highly evolved persons they are going in order to experience the teaching with dry wood teacher (Sattvic).  Dry wood student is not a blind follower, not merely imitating but questioning, practicing, experimenting and evolving experience.

RAJASIC STUDENT (Wet Wood) The spiritual practice of a Rajasic student is mainly preaching, not practising. He is always reading and trying to convert without personal experience. He is a follower who believes his teacher has a magic formula.  The ‘my’ in everything is important (‘my’ teacher ‘my’ religion ‘my’ god). His discrimination is of a passionate nature, not seeing the truth behind all the teachings (unable to see the oneness of all forms of God). There is an emotional attachment to the teacher and he is unable to see beyond the teacher’s form.  If the teacher’s attitude changes towards the student the student will be emotionally affected.  Rajasic students are usually also interested in things like palmistry, astrology…

RAJASIC TEACHER Does not practice what he preaches, he has followers but no disciples and they can be very fanatic. This teacher is bossy, like to control people and is very theatrical. They are often involved in ceremonial regalia and with formal religious leaders. Rajasic students are attracted to them because this type of student believes his teacher has a magic formula and he is not seeing the truth behind the teaching.  The Rajasic student is always reading not practicing.

TAMASIC STUDENT (Green Wood) Tends to misinterpret all spiritual teaching and will make the teacher’s life miserable.  He likes to argue for the sake of argument.  No amount of teaching will have any effect upon him. He does not use his intellect in examining spiritual matters.  The Tamasic student is interested in occultism and often resorts to the use of amulets and charms.  He often gets involved in voodoo, worship of the dead, etc. Instinct, not intellect and discrimination, is functioning in the Tamasic student. He has no discrimination, observes no rules or regulations and accepts no discipline.

TAMASIC TEACHER  This teacher is perverted.  Delving into black magic and voodoo.  Offers live sacrifices, delves into black magic and voodoo.  They do not realise that the true sacrifice should be the lower Self; lust, greed, anger.  Sensual pleasure is their real goal. A Tamasic teacher may change everything to suit his purposes.   Only the student who has no discrimination will attach to this type of teacher.

Om Om Om Love & Light

from Trisha

Don’t let anyone steal your peace because then you are the loser.


More reading:

Bikram Choudhury at Yoga Matters

Choosing a Yoga Instructor ~ considerations