Virtual Satsang

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Jade rides the current obsession with Celebrity Yoga Teachers

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The Jan/Feb 2011 issue of the Yoga Journal, has an ad from Jade (“The World’s Best Teachers Love Nature’s Best Mat”) featuring 8 celebrity teachers. (Because they’re so famous, Jade doesn’t even have to name the teachers in the ad.) I don’t have a problem with teachers endorsing products, but I doubt if any of them actually represent the best Yoga teachers. There are many teachers across the world, toiling in obscurity, some for little compensation, who impact the Yoga journey of many students. Fame translated to less time, which usually isn’t what you want out of a teacher.

Reading A.G. Mohan’s recent book about Krishnamacharya makes me yearn for the days when teachers shunned the spotlight! Seriously, I would be surprised if these so-called celebrity teachers are the best sources of instruction even for Hatha Yoga. Students need consistency, over long periods of time. There are many yoga instructors teaching classes & workshops in small studios everywhere, seek them out before you jet off to your next Yoga conference/retreat! The cost of one exotic yoga vacation, would pay for many one-on-one sessions with your favorite local yoga teacher.

[From Krishnamacharya: His Life and Teachings, pages 80-82, 92.]

He seldom postponed or canceled class, nor did he hold back in teaching in any way. He took no sick leave, did not travel, and took no time off for holidays. By the time I began studying with him, Krishnamacharya was in his eighties and not under financial pressure. He was never well off during his life, but in his later years, he no longer had to struggle to make ends meet, as he had in some of his earlier years. He no longer had to support a family.

… The steadfastness in teaching was a reflection of Krishnamacharya’s enormous discipline in his daily life. He arose very early in the morning around two, and did asanas, pranayama, meditation, morning Vedic rituals, and his daily puja (worship).

… Krishnamacharya taught classes all day. By around six in the evening, he retired from teaching to do his evening rituals, and his asana practice, pranayama, and meditation. He would retire to sleep around eight after a light dinner. His schedule hardly varied.

Krishnamacharya’s uncompromising will made him an extraordinary yoga practitioner, a masterful teacher, and a spiritual adept.

… Successful businesspeople are disciplined in their work habits. Profitable investors are disciplined in deploying their money. Admired public figures who catalyze social change are disciplined in their commitment to their causes. Even tyrants and dictators may exercise considerable discipline toward their goals, deplorable though the results may be. But the discipline of a spiritual practitioner like Krishnamacharya is different. He was not directed toward an external goal. He did not employ his will to earn money, wield power, become famous, or change other people. The primary goal of his disciplined life was to master the mind — even if it came at the cost of material markers of success.

Krishnamacharya was never wealthy or famous, but that did not trouble him because he did not hanker for recognition or money. In fact, he actively shunned these. He strained to provide the basic necessities for his family earlier in his life, but I never heard him say “I did not have money. I struggled.” He merely said that keeping a large sum of money is not appropriate in a spiritually oriented life.

… In class he would often say, “Why do we need money beyond a point? If we are free of ill health, enmity and debt, is that not enough for a fulfilled life? In searching for money, we lose our health. And if we are unwell, how can we be peaceful? Similarly, a person with enemies will never sleep easy, nor will a person in debt. Be free of these and you will be at ease. Too much money only leads to less peace.”

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Written by virtualsatsang

January 7, 2011 at 7:44 am

Posted in History, Sadhana, Yoga

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  1. […] The snippets I saw of Yogaglo surprised me, the quality of the video is quite high. Knowing myself, I definitely prefer supporting local teachers if at all possible. But if you don’t have the time to go to nearby class, or can’t […]

  2. […] media hypes Celebrity teachers: Not all famous yoga personalities are great teachers. Many become famous for reasons other than their teaching skills or knowledge of […]


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