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THE BIG BOOK OF YOGA: CAVEAT MEDITOR

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thinking!

Everyone has blind spots. We've got 'em, you've got 'em. And that means your teachers will, too - doesn't matter whether they were born in Bombay or Boulder. In fact, almost every one of the Hatha Yoga lineages in the chart from Chapter Two has had at least one (and in some cases, several) scandals involving its teachers - if we had chosen to omit every school with skeletons in its closet, there wouldn't be many left! However, some schools' questionable behavior is still ongoing today, so please, do a bit of

your own research when you're shopping around for a teacher. (You can also contact us for more specific information regarding this issue.)

Keep in mind that the existence of the "shadow self", as it is called, isn't in itself something that's bad or wrong. Rather, it's just something to be aware of - not only in order to avoid holding a teacher up to unrealistic expectations (which may cause a lot of pain when eventually they aren't met), but also as a way of keeping your wits about you and not becoming blind to a teacher's faults out of awe or adoration. This can be a very fine line to walk! On the one hand, we need to recognize that teachers are people, and, as such, aren't perfect, and on the other hand, Yoga is an art that is transmitted most completely from a teacher to a student. You can only learn so much by reading books, or watching DVDs; to really go deep into the Yogic practice, you'll eventually need to find a teacher whom you can trust. (And part of that trust comes from knowing where you can safely open to them, and where you may need to be careful.)

Some Yoga systems have explicit instructions for how to go about observing and evaluating the integrity of a teacher. The Tibetans, for instance, lay out a whole checklist of characteristics which a good teacher should have, as well as descriptions of the sorts of teachers one should avoid. Tibetan Yogic texts going back hundreds of years4 describe some of the teacher-types to steer

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clear from, including:

Teachers like the millstone made of wood

Teachers who decide they can teach Yoga simply because they have hung around in a Yogic environment long enough to feel qualified (but who haven't really put the time in to practice themselves). When they're really put to the test, they crumble like a millstone (grinding machine) made of wood instead of stone.

Teachers like the frog that lived in a well

Teachers who get puffed up by the praise of their students and

who don't stay humble with regard to their accomplishments. "Frog in a well" is the Tibetan version of "Big fish in a small pond".

Mad guides

Teachers who believe themselves to be far more advanced then they actually are

Blind guides

Teachers who aren't any more advanced than you are, but who for whatever reason attempt to take on the responsibility of mentoring you

As you can see, Yogis have been considering this problem for a long time now! To compound the issue, there is not only very little regulation involved when it comes to who can call themselves a Yoga teacher today, but there's also not much consensus on exactly what the purpose of Yoga even is! Many modern practitioners think of Hatha Yoga simply as a way of keeping physically fit, others think of it as offering a degree of emotional and mental balance to their lives, and still others (steadily becoming a minority, unfortunately) see Hatha Yoga as it was

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