The role of the teacher - or the yoga teacher to be specific - is an interesting one, and something that teachers from different schools of yoga may contest. I'm speaking here about Kundalini Yoga - the role and responsibilities of the Kundalini Yoga teacher as I have come to learn and practice them, from my teachers and the Golden Chain of the teachings and our ancestors.
Yogi Bhajan said the role of the teacher is to POKE, PROVOKE, CONFRONT and ELEVATE! My own teacher, Karta Singh, has a singular ability to help me rise about my internal chatter and excuses and to push myself into spaces I had no idea I could even go!
What does this mean on a practical level? What does this mean for my students?
Firstly, I do not molly-coddle my students. If you've experienced my teaching first-hand you will know that I encourage you to dig deep, to confront your challenges and rise above them. This is the only way that we as human beings will ever become greater. If we don't push through we will stay exactly where we are now, feeling the same emotions, making the same mistakes, walking again and again down the same paths! Safe though it may feel, it holds us in small and uninspiring lives, which is an utter waste of this amazing gift of life each of us has been given.
Secondly, I will speak the truth as I see it. This means if you are being lazy, I will tell you that you are being lazy. If I know you are running at less than 100% of your potential, I will challenge you on it. Every student that I allow to react to the negative impulses of the mind at the first sign of discomfort (this can be tiredness, aching muscles, lactic build-up, boredom, intensity - anything that is out of the realm of everyday comfortable experiences) and give up or ease off, is a student that is not having the full experience and therefore will not receive the full benefits of the kriya or meditation. I am not doing my job in helping and supporting my student to excel - which is why you come to Kundalini yoga.
So POKE, PROVOKE, CONFRONT AND ELEVATE is what I aim to do in every single class, workshop, one to one and retreat. In every interaction with my students, whether it is face to face or over Skype. It may feel a bit uncomfortable at times, and that's good, because it means I got your out of your comfort zone, and this is where life starts!
Lastly my biggest responsibility to my students lies in my own practice. If I am not living in line with what I teach and what I expect, then I am being inauthentic and am selling my students, myself and the teachings short. So my SADHANA is my biggest responsibility.
Since committing to running the first ever KRI Kundalini Yoga Level 1 Teacher Training here in Egypt, I have been confronted with the fullness of this responsibility. If I am anything less than the best that I can be at any given moment - whether I am being observed or not - then I am not living my truth as a teacher, and do not deserve to call myself such.
It is about getting up early every single day and doing my personal practice, and not just going through the motions, but practicing with all my heart, investing every part of me in the process, to go deeper into myself, uncover more and more layers of what triggers my negative responses to life around me. It is about rising above my reactive nature to reside in the peaceful calm of neutrality. It is about being honest and clear not only in my words, but also in my thoughts, because this is the first and greatest deception game we all play - the denial, excuses, and stories we tell ourselves to avoid facing the truth, to avoid the pain of confronting our naked selves, to avoid taking full responsibility for our own life.
If I am not living honestly, as courageously as I can, how can I expect and inspire my students to do any better?
If you haven't tried Kundalini Yoga yet, give it a go. It's not about flexibility, it's not about being skinny, it's not about being super-strong or how many sun salutations your can do.
It's about inner strength. It's about being the best you can be. It's about confronting - and then letting go of - your past so you can live in freedom and authenticity. It's about challenging yourself, never giving up so you can experience first hand just how deep your reserves are - because it is these reserves that you will be able to call on when life throws its challenges at you.
There is something very different about Kundalini which defies explanation and definition - it has to be experienced to be known.
Try one class - it is a 90-minute investment of your time and it could just change your perspective on yourself, how you are living and the world around you. And from that first 90 minutes, once your perception is changed, it can never go back. And there begins the most exciting transformation of all - the start of a new life!
There are many opportunities to dip your toes into Kundalini, the Yoga of Awareness. I look forward to practicing with you soon. Sat nam!
Classes: Thursdays 7pm and Sundays 10am Coral Coast Hotel, Eel Garden, Dahab
KRI Level 1 Teacher Training: 11-14 December, 26 February-1 March, 23-26 April, Egypt, 4-12 July, France
Discover Your Depths Yoga Retreat: 7-14 February
Distance Coaching: meditation, yoga, freediving and life-enhancement coaching via Skype
One to one, private and workshops: I teach people of all levels and experience on request, contact me to find out more