Approaching a teacher asking to be accepted as student of yoga

Traditionally, when someone is interested in finding a teacher to learn, study and practice yoga and meditation under the guidance of this person (the teacher), one needs to approach the teacher humbly asking to be accepted as a student of yoga under this teacher, serving the teacher without asking/expecting “What am I getting from learning yoga under you?” or “What can you (the teacher) give me in return for offering fees/donations to you to be learning and practicing yoga from you and serving you?”

The teacher will then observe and test this person to see whether this person is fit to be a student of yoga. Once the person is accepted to be a student of yoga, this person will live closely to the teacher for many years, where in the first few years are merely doing some random ‘work/service’ in daily life, such like housekeeping/cooking/gardening/cleaning/washing serving the teacher (very important/efficient initial purification to eliminate worldly habits of egoism and impurities) before being initiated into the practice. There’s high degree of segregation/non-physical contact among the teacher and the student. It’s not like nowadays, most people are looking forward to be touching and hugging as the way to show friendliness, love and care.

The teacher doesn’t advertise/boast about “I am a certified/qualified/experienced/internationally recognized/affiliated yoga teacher” and “What kind of benefits/certification/qualification/result/achievement you will get if you attend my classes/courses learning yoga from me.” but instead, “It’s a hard-work. There will be lots of unpleasantness/pain and hardships/obstacles that you need to deal with by yourself. You have to walk the path alone by yourself. You need to be determined, persevered and vigilant to discipline your own mind until you attain self-realization.” And the students of yoga will be determined to finish their learning under the teacher no matter how much difficulties and obstacles arise during the physical/mental/emotional purification process, while developing discipline and independence in their own practice, as one day, they will have to leave the teacher, or the teacher will leave.

It’s not about to be ‘qualified’ as ‘yoga teachers/masters’, be ‘affiliated’ with ‘yoga alliance’ to be ‘conducting yoga classes’ to teach ‘yoga classes’ or ‘conducting yoga courses’ to be ‘training yoga teachers to teach yoga or conduct yoga classes/yoga courses to other people’. As a ‘yogi’ who knows yoga doesn’t need to be ‘trained’ to be ‘qualified’ to be ‘certified yoga teacher’ and ‘affiliated with’ such and such ‘yoga organization/alliance’ to be ‘recognized/authorized’ to teach yoga to anyone. It’s neither about ‘correct/proper physical alignments’, ‘teaching techniques’, ‘effects/benefits of the yoga practice’, ‘healing’, ‘connecting’, ‘sharing’, ‘hugging’ and ‘touching’.

Nowadays, this tradition is no longer be seen/practiced/appreciated. One of the reason would be the existence of ‘sincere teacher of yoga’ and ‘sincere student of yoga’ is very rare now.

In this modern commercialized world of ‘higher education and higher quality of life with worldly social values and practice’, the ‘yoga teachers’ have to ‘advertise’ or ‘boast’ about their ‘certification/qualification/recognition/affiliation/experiences/achievements’ and ‘to be presenting’ something ‘unique, enjoyable, innovative and attractive’ to attract people to be interested to come to attend the ‘yoga classes’ or ‘yoga courses’ conducted by them, while gratifying the people’s desire of craving and aversion, by giving them what they want/like and don’t give them what they don’t want/like, to make them feel treasured, appreciated, valued, pampered, satisfied and empowered. Both the teacher and the students also want to develop and maintain an inter-dependent ‘connection/relationship’ where the students ceaselessly need to receive attention, love, care, support, acknowledgement, advice or feedback from the teacher, while the teacher wants to ‘be close’ to the students, ‘be there’ for the students, ‘be connecting’ with the students, or ‘be loved/needed/glorified/supported/respected’ by the students.

Because most egoistic impure minds are being conditioned deeply by the worldly thinking behavior pattern, almost all of the ‘yoga enthusiasts’ or the ‘prospect/potential students/clients’ of the ‘yoga school/yoga studio/yoga centre’ will have some kind of ‘request’ or ‘expectation’ towards the ‘yoga school’, ‘yoga studio’, ‘yoga center’, ‘yoga classes’, ‘yoga courses’ or ‘yoga teachers’ to meet up their ‘requests’ and ‘expectation’ in terms of the ‘quality’ of the ‘professional profile/image’, ‘qualification’, ‘certification’, ‘recognition’, ‘affiliation’, ‘organization’, ‘experience’, ‘achievement’, or ‘result orientation’, and above all, “How much and what do I get from paying this amount of ‘fees’/’donation’ to the ‘yoga school’/’yoga studio’/’yoga centre’/’yoga teacher’ for attending the ‘yoga classes’/’yoga courses’.”

Many of the untrained worldly egoistic impure minds will have doubt/insecurity towards their own ‘determination’ being determined by whether they will like/enjoy ‘the teacher’s over-all presentation/image/charm/professionalism/credibility/teaching style’ or ‘the classes’ or ‘the practice’, or not, where they are unsure/unwilling to pay fees in advance which might be ‘non-refundable’ if they want to ‘give up’ when they experience discomfort or difficulty, or when they ‘don’t like/enjoy’ the ‘teacher/classes/practice’, while the truth of the purification process deriving from performing ‘serious/intense/persevered yoga and meditation practice to eliminate ignorance/egoism/impurities/restlessness’ is inevitably ‘unpleasant’ and ‘painful’ physically/mentally/emotionally for all egoistic impure minds. Even before the students come to the ‘yoga school/yoga studio/yoga centre’ to begin learning and practicing yoga under the teacher, the test/obstacle derived from the purification process already started. All kinds of obstacles manifest in the form of physical/mental/emotional discomfort and doubt.

Unfortunately, there are quite many stories of ‘impure yoga teachers’ existing in the world ‘taking advantage’ of the attention/love seeking ‘yoga students’, where people looking forward to be ‘touched’, creating many forms of ‘corruption’, and then there are ‘impure yoga students’ who didn’t get what they like and want from the teachers and they criticized and bitched about the teachers with the intention to hurt/damage the teacher’s reputation, that makes it even harder and more challenging for ‘yoga enthusiasts’ to ‘surrender’ all doubts/insecurity, to be opened to approach a teacher to ask to be accepted as ‘student of yoga’ and to ‘serve’ the teacher without attachment, identification and expectation, to be effectively purifying and eliminating egoism and impurities, to free the mind from restlessness and the veil of ignorance.

There’s neither right nor wrong, neither good nor bad. It’s just how things are in this world.

Anyway, ‘sincere teachers of yoga’ and ‘sincere students of yoga’ will meet each other in due time and due cause. There’s no ‘attachment’, ‘identification’ or ‘expectation’ towards each other. The students/practitioners ‘serve’ the teacher humbly for years, surrendering the ego and worldly passionate desire/ambition/thinking/belief/social behavior pattern, and developing self-discipline. After learning/receiving the teachings from the teachers, the students retreat into seclusion and solitude, working diligently and independently towards purifying and silencing the modification of the mind, to perform self-inquiry upon the truth of everything, to attain self-realization and total annihilation of the mind or the mind perception of an impermanent and selfless worldly life existence of countless ‘births’ and ‘deaths’ of names and forms (thoughts/feelings/emotions/relationships) arising and passing away, of ignorance, egoism, impurities, restlessness and suffering.

“You are left alone now.” – Swami Sivananda

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Yoga teacher certification and teaching yoga

If one knows yoga, one doesn’t need to attend any ‘yoga teachers training course’ to attain any ‘yoga teacher certification’ to ‘qualify’ or ‘authorize’ one to share the wisdom/knowledge of yoga with anyone and guide others onto the path of yoga to realize yoga of oneness/non-separateness/selflessness/namelessness/formlessness/attributelessness/unconditional peace.

Those who think and believe that one must attend ‘Internationally recognized yoga teachers training course’ and attain ‘Internationally recognized yoga teacher certification’ and be affiliated to or be sanctioned/authorized by such and such ‘yoga alliance’, ‘yoga association’, or ‘sports council’ to be allowed or qualified to ‘teach yoga’, it shows that the ‘yoga’ that they know/practice/teach is not about ‘Yoga of self-inquiry, self-realization, oneness, non-separateness, selflessness, namelessness, formlessness, attributelessness, birthlessness, deathlessness, beginninglessness, endlessness, silence, liberation from ignorance and suffering, the conquest of mind, or the annihilation of the modification of the mind’.

Attending many ‘yoga teachers training course’ and attaining many ‘yoga teacher certification’ and studying/practicing/teaching ‘yoga’ for such and such period of time also doesn’t determine/guarantee that the mind is free or will be free from ignorance, egoism and impurities, or one knows yoga.

One who knows yoga, there’s no such idea/identification of “I want to be a yoga teacher. I want to teach yoga. Teaching yoga is so meaningful.” or “I am a certified and qualified and experienced yoga teacher. I have attended such and such ‘yoga teachers training course’ under such and such ‘teachers’ or ‘Gurus’, and attained such and such ‘yoga teacher certification’. I have been practicing and teaching yoga for such and such years.”

One who knows yoga, is not necessarily a ‘yoga teacher’ who ‘teach yoga’, or what most people understand as ‘conducting or teaching yoga classes/courses’, but one might be ‘teaching yoga’, selflessly, intentionlessly and spontaneously.

One doesn’t need any ‘yoga teacher certification’ to be in the present, to be unattached towards all the mind perception of names and forms, to be free from the desire of craving and aversion.

One doesn’t need any ‘yoga teacher certification’ to be undetermined and undisturbed by all the qualities and dualities of pleasantness and unpleasantness, good and bad, right and wrong, positive and negative, success and failure, praise and condemn, enjoyment and suffering, births and deaths.

One doesn’t need any ‘yoga teacher certification’ to forgive and let go what the mind perceives as ‘unpleasantness’, ‘bad’, ‘wrong’, or ‘hurtful’.

One doesn’t need any ‘yoga teacher certification’ to be dispassionate and renounce worldly attachment and identification/ideas/thinking/belief/objects/relationships, to free the mind from ignorance, egoism, impurities and restlessness.

One doesn’t need any ‘yoga teacher certification’ to realize peace, selflessness and compassion, as well as guiding others to also realize peace, selflessness and compassion.

One doesn’t need any ‘yoga teacher certification’ to be kind and compassionate towards all without discrimination of good and bad, likes and dislikes, or deserving and undeserving.

One doesn’t need any ‘yoga teacher certification’ to breathe, to eat, to live, to see/hear/smell/taste/touch/think, to be aware, to be in the present, to be peaceful, to let go, or to be confronting death/disintegration in peace.

After all, none need any ‘certification of ignorance/unhappiness/misery/suffering’ to be ignorant, unhappy, miserable and suffering.

Be free.

Teaching yoga to others and performing one’s self-practice

Yoga teachers who teach yoga to other people must not neglect one’s self-practice.

Usually, one needs to perform one’s practice to attain self-realization, being free from ignorance, egoism, impurities, restlessness and suffering, then naturally, one can disseminate the teachings to others and guide others to perform the practice, which is nothing to do with attending yoga teachers training courses to learn how to teach yoga to other people or attaining yoga teachers training certification to qualify one to teach yoga to other people. And most people who have attended yoga teachers training courses and are teaching yoga classes to other people are not necessarily be free from ignorance, egoism, impurities, restlessness and suffering. As those who are free from ignorance, egoism, impurities, restlessness and suffering, they don’t need to attend ‘yoga teachers training courses’ to learn how to teach yoga, to attain some ‘internationally recognized certificates’ to conduct ‘yoga classes’ for them to disseminate yoga to other beings. And hence, even though one is teaching yoga classes because one has learned some knowledge on the yoga practice and possesses teacher training certification to teach yoga classes, one must take importance in one’s practice, to look after one’s mind, and be persevered and determined to silent the mind, to free the mind from ignorance, egoism, impurities, restlessness and suffering.

Quite many people who teach yoga classes think that they don’t really need to perform their own practice, as they think they have been performing the yoga practice while teaching the many yoga classes for many times/hours everyday. Or, their body and mind are already too exhausted from teaching many classes everyday as well as engaging in many daily worldly activities or social interactions. Yoga teachers need to know how to conserve energy to focus on one’s practice.

When the yoga teachers demonstrating the yoga practice while teaching classes, it’s not the same as performing one’s practice in silence.

When teaching classes, the teachers turning the mind outward paying attention onto teaching others by talking and giving instructions while demonstrating the yoga practice and disseminating the teachings, and are observing or supervising the yoga students’ practice and ‘assessing their performance’. But, yoga practice is nothing to do with ‘good/bad performance’ at all.

During self-practice in silence, the body and mind retreat from worldly affairs, activities and interactions, one is fully immersed and relaxed into the yoga practice and paying full attention onto one’s practice by turning the mind inward, withdrawing the senses from the sense objects, which is what yoga practice is about.

It’s the same for the yoga students. After attending yoga classes following the instructions of the yoga teachers to learn about the yoga teachings and how to perform the yoga practice for some time, one must also develop one’s self-practice in silence, turning the mind inward while immersing and relaxing into the yoga practice, withdrawing the senses from the sense objects, without listening to instructions or looking at the yoga teacher demonstrating the yoga practice, without talking, discussion, debate or asking questions, without judgment or assessment towards the practice, not to say, it’s needless to be assessed by other people towards one’s performance about ‘whether I am good or not good’. Completely unattached towards one’s actions and practice or the result/fruit of actions and practice, just doing one’s best and allowing the result/fruit of actions and practice to be there as it is, which is what yoga practice is about.

The world of yoga

People asked us how come we don’t run/teach yoga classes and teachers training courses?

Yoga practice is about taming/quieting the restless mind to free the mind from suffering of restlessness and impurities derived from ignorance and egoism by realizing selflessness (birthlessness, deathlessness, attributelessness, namelessness, formlessness) through the practice of dispassion, renunciation, silence, self-inquiry, concentration, meditation, non-attachment, non-identification, non-craving, non-aversion, non-judgment, non-comparison and non-expectation that require a high degree of open-mindedness, right discrimination, intense yearning for liberation, will-power, perseverance, independence, self-control and discipline.

After one learned about the teachings and practice from someone who has direct experience of the teachings and practice, one implements these teachings and practice in everyday life, to free the mind from ignorance and egoism, which is nothing to do with attending regular ‘yoga classes’ or attending ‘yoga teachers training course’ to become ‘certified professional yoga teacher’ to teach/conduct ‘yoga classes’.

Most people don’t really interested to learn and practice yoga when they are interested in joining ‘yoga classes’, as they wouldn’t/couldn’t let go the thinking and belief which they think and believe is who they are (the main hindrance towards the realization of selflessness.) They just want to do some physical exercises to keep fit and be healthy, to feel good and look good. And it’s nothing wrong. Everyone has the freedom for what they want and don’t want, and what they think and believe.

Most ‘yoga classes’ are existing mostly as one of the healthy leisure activities for health and fitness enhancement by doing some yoga asana, relaxation and breathing exercises, just like any other personal/group fitness training exercise classes, which is a very healthy activity. It’s very good that people would love to do some form of physical exercise regularly for maintaining good health and vitality to enjoy a higher quality of life. And some highly talented people even transformed yoga asana practice into amazing acrobatic performance, it’s very inspiring for people to take up some physical fitness training to look good and feel good, and not spending time and energy in unhealthy/unwholesome activities.

The initial objective of ‘teachers training courses’ is about oneself learning and practicing the teachings of yoga to purify one’s mind, to awaken/realize the teacher within to become one’s own teacher, to discipline one’s mind to be free from ignorance and egoism. It’s not about training people who are interested in ‘teaching yoga classes’ or ‘running yoga courses’ to become ‘certified professional yoga teachers’ and issue/authorize them with ‘recognized certification’ to conduct yoga courses/teach yoga classes according to the different types of teaching style from different types of yoga school. It’s training one’s own mind to be it’s own teacher. Upon self-realization of yoga/oneness/selflessness, one might or might not share the direct experience with others.

‘Yoga retreats’ are also being ‘transformed’ into self-pampering/indulgence of the senses getaway that empowers the egoistic desires of carving and aversion, or being ‘transformed’ into ‘mystical healing’ camp. Even so, it’s neither right nor wrong. That is what most minds like and desire. It really doesn’t matter. In the end, yoga is still what it is, whether people are learning and practicing and teaching yoga as it is, or not. The truth won’t be affected/contaminated by any add-on/take-out elements, although the creative worldly minded can transform the teachings and practice of yoga into something that they prefer.

Most of the serious yoga practitioners don’t really run/teach ‘yoga classes’, or ‘yoga courses’, or ‘yoga teachers training courses’ although they might be teaching yoga to many others. Sharing the teachings and practice of yoga with others doesn’t necessarily has to be in the form of conducting yoga classes/courses/retreats. Some might have been teaching ‘yoga classes’ in the beginning, but after some time, they renounced the worldly social life and activities to concentrate on their own practice, upon realization that renunciation from worldly affair/interaction/activities/relationships is the greatest compassion towards oneself and all beings. Everyone is responsible for their own practice to look after their own mind, to discipline/quiet/purify their own mind, to deal with the consequences of their own ignorance, to become their own teacher, to free their own mind from ignorance, egoism and impurities via their own effort.

Meanwhile, ‘yoga teachers training courses’ are no longer about learning and practicing yoga to become one’s own teacher to be self-independent, to perform self-inquiry, to silent/annihilate the mind to attain self-realization, but the identity and qualification of a ‘yoga teacher’/recognition/authorization/certifications/association/commercial value/career value are the drive for conducting/participating yoga teachers training courses.

This is the world of yoga, and there’s nothing wrong or bad with it.

Many people think that they like and love yoga, but not really. When come to serious yoga practice, most people would turn away or justify that it is not yoga (the way that they think it should be.) And there’s nothing wrong, as all minds take their own pace and own path to evolve and realize.

In the silent meditation retreat that doesn’t charge any fees (donate as you like, or even nothing), quite many people would want to runaway or quit after a few days observing silence, for not being able to talk to other people, can’t have physical/eye contact with other people, not able to express as they like, can’t do what they usually like to do, can’t eat what they usually like to eat, no stimulating entertainment for the mind, sleeping on hard bed in basic accommodation, and they have to sit for meditation for more than 10 hours a day, while lots of physical/mental/emotional discomforts arise and random thoughts bubbling up to the surface of the mind. Some people would stay until the retreat finishes, but they don’t really observe silence throughout the entire retreat, such like they are still talking/whispering/making signs/interacting with their friends and keeping their phones with them, even though it’s not allowed. But, there’s nothing wrong with that either, as it’s how most worldly minds would behave, out of loneliness, boredom and meaninglessness derived from being refrained from their usual worldly stimulation/activities.

Most minds would ‘cheat’ to be comfortable and not to be uncomfortable. It’s not about what’s right and what’s wrong. And it’s not about how good is one’s yoga practice and meditation experience, but it’s the ability to confront/deal with all the things that the mind doesn’t familiar with, doesn’t like and doesn’t agree with, while not coming in contact with the things that the mind familiars with, likes and agrees with, being free from craving and aversion, be able to forbear difficulties and unpleasantness equanimously, and free the mind from restlessness/impurities out of ignorance and egoism, that matters most.

The mind won’t evolve/progress and keeps running round and round in the loop of worldly ideas/thinking/belief, if it keeps swaying in between craving and aversion, running away from difficulties and unpleasantness and what it doesn’t like (the mind perception of the qualities of bad, negative, wrong, meaninglessness and unhappiness,) and chasing after what it likes and desires (the mind perception of the qualities of good, positive, right, meaningfulness and happiness,) even after many years of attending ‘yoga classes’ and ‘yoga retreats’ or doing yoga asana and breathing exercises regularly, or possessed many ‘yoga certifications’ and given ‘yoga classes’ to many people.

Be free.

Root out pride and arrogance

For some reasons people are aspired to attain or possess certain qualities in order to be eligible or qualified to feel proud and arrogant towards themselves and/or others.

People are being encouraged to cultivate pride and arrogance as well, as somehow they think it’s very good/important to be able to be proud and arrogant about something that they think it deserves to be proud of, that would make them feel somehow more stand out, unique and better than some others.

“Do something and be someone that make yourself and other people feel proud of.”

People like to encourage and support other people to stay motivated and to be better by telling people, “I’m so proud of you!” People grew up with the thinking/belief/values/aspiration of need to be attaining or possessing certain qualities to feel proud of themselves and also make other people feel proud of them.

“I want to be proud of myself. I want other people to be proud of me.”

People would feel inferior, bad, depressed and disappointed towards themselves when they think they haven’t or couldn’t attain or possess certain qualities that allow themselves and others to feel proud of.

Those who want to attain liberation must contemplate on all these worldly social cultural thinking/belief/expectation, to see the truth of it. All these are nothing but the play of egoism – It’s merely the ego that needs to feel proud and needs others to feel proud of ‘I’ in order to feel satisfied, loved, motivated, appreciated, acknowledged, good, happy, confident and meaningful.

Meanwhile, some people think and believe that they are not at all proud and arrogant, as they are aware of the downside of pride and arrogance, and they don’t want to be associated with pride and arrogance, but they aren’t aware of themselves are already being over-powered by pride and arrogance. Without awareness, people can be proud of the thinking of ‘I am not a proud and arrogant person. I practice humility. I am very humble.’

In Yoga, pride and arrogance is the by-product of egoism born out of ignorance. It’s one of the great obstacles that hinders the mind to be opened to learn and practice yoga and meditation, to inquire the truth.

If we sincerely want to learn and practice yoga and meditation, we need to first learn how to identify pride and arrogance and free the mind from it. But, it’s really not easy for people to let go pride and arrogance, as it is a part of their strong identity of themselves.

Even many ‘graduated/certified/qualified/experienced yoga teachers’ are being proud and arrogant towards themselves for having attended one or many ‘yoga teachers training courses’ attaining one or many certifications or qualifications in this or that, that they had studied and practiced yoga under one or many ‘famous’ or ‘popular’ yoga teachers/Gurus/schools, as well as their years of experience in practicing and teaching yoga, or they have recruited certain numbers of yoga students, or they had taught in certain yoga schools or yoga centres or yoga festivals or yoga conventions, or they had participated in some ‘yoga competitions’ and won certain awards, or they have done such and such charity works, or they have been contributing articles of yoga or being ‘interviewed’ in such and such magazine or social media, and so on. Most people would justify that their intention of getting all the attention, admiration and publicity is for promoting yoga to more people in the world. But, how pure and true is that?

Two of the common characteristics of pride and arrogance that exist in many yoga practitioners who already have been practicing certain style(s) of yoga for some time, or ‘graduated/certified/qualified/experienced yoga teachers’ who have attained many certifications/qualifications/experiences from attending different yoga courses and have been teaching ‘yoga classes’ or ‘yoga courses’ for some time :-

“I am experienced/qualified/knowledgeable/advanced yoga practitioner/yoga teacher. I know enough and I have long time experience in practicing/teaching yoga. I don’t need someone to lecture me about yoga/yoga practice/teaching yoga, or tell/teach me the many things that I already knew.”

“This is different from the yoga that I have been learning/practicing/teaching for many years. I don’t agree with this, I don’t like this. I don’t want this.”

When there is such pride and arrogance, the mind is closed, being unable to be opened to inquire/investigate the truth of something that is beyond what the mind thinks it knows, or something that is different from or contradicted with the existing familiar practice, thinking and belief in the mind, that the mind doesn’t know or doesn’t familiar with. We won’t/can’t learn anything that we actually didn’t know but we think and believe that we already knew very well, even if there’s a great teacher or great teaching in front of us.

Be free.