Anyone that practices yoga on a regular basis has heard it in the community or at your favorite studio. Jane is so amazing, such an awesome teacher. Bill is just amazing, his classes are so awesome. What does that really mean? Are they amazing because they have great playlists? Is it because of their great yoga photos on their Instagram account or the number of followers on their social media accounts?Are they amazing because they elicit group emotion and excitement in the practice room, telling everyone that, “You can do that last belly crunch.” Are they amazing because they can do handstands and other advanced poses that most students cannot do? Are they amazing simply because they are nice people and smile a lot? Are they amazing simply because they are a yoga teacher? Are they amazing because they wear the latest LuLu Lemon and drink the latest fad in health drinks? Are they amazing simply because everyone says so? The list could go on from here but there is a common thread in the above questions.

The common thread is that not one of the above questions has anything to do with teaching yoga. Let me repeat. Not one of the above factors has anything to do with teaching yoga. In addition, nothing in the above list has anything to do with yoga period. As a student, there is only one question that you need to ask yourself when leaving a yoga class. Did I or did I not learn something about my mind, body or spirit that helped me raise my level of awareness of self. End of statement. If the answer is “Yes,” you are probably in the room with a quality yoga teacher. If you the answer is “No,” you may want to find a new teacher.

The definition of yoga is “Conscious Evolution.” What this means is that when you practice, you are evolving from your animal self and your emotional self to your higher self. You are moving all of your processes to the frontal lobes of your brain, where your highest self exists. We consciously evolve through a four-fold awareness, and that is awareness of our physical selves, emotional/mental selves, subconscious selves and finally, awareness of our awareness. The practice of yoga is utilizing the tools of the 8 limbs (Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dyhana, Samhadi) to gain this awareness. Look back at the list of questions in the first paragraph. You should find it interesting and ironic that all of these questions lie in the emotional part of the brain (where the ego resides), the very part of the brain that we are trying to control!!!

As a student of yoga, it should be noted that the answer lies with you. You are the best teacher that you will ever have and all the answers you need are already inside you. A good, or even great yoga teacher, will give you the tools to unlock all the answers within you, they will guide you on your journey to self-awareness utilizing all 8 limbs of yoga, not just moving your knee three degrees to the right while listening to the latest Hozier smash hit. When you are with a great yoga teacher, you will learn something about yourself that you did not know almost every time you practice, regardless of the teacher’s ability to do a handstand.

So go forth and evolve, consciously, and ask yourself, “How awesome is my yoga teacher, really?”

[Photo by Oren Bochman – CC BY]

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