10 Hindu Deities to know as a Yoga Teacher

10 Hindu Deities to know as a Yoga Teacher

10 Hindu Gods & Goddesses to Know as a Yoga Teacher

“There can really be as many Hindu Gods as there are devotees to suit the moods, feelings, emotions & social background of the devotees.” ~Sri Rama Krishna

 

If you’re a Yoga teacher or Yoga student and enthusiast, you’ve likely come across some of the mantras or depictions of some of the popular Hindu Gods and Goddesses, and be wondering why it’s important for you to know who or what they are!  

 

Incorporating myth and mantra into your practice – whether teaching or simply deepening as a student, can help bring you into powerful depths of clarity, heart-opening, support and insight for your journey.

 

Yoga as we’ve come to know it in modern times, is a syncretic and living spiritual practice and awakening system that draws from a wide range of inspirations including religions like Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism, and also western science and psychology.

 

The Pantheon of Hindu Gods is vast. There are said to be anywhere from 33, 000, 000 to 330,000,000 Hindu deities, each associated with a variety of stories, parables,  iconographies and mantras that teach about the values and aims of human life and the path to awakening. 

 

In India, you can find worshippers decorating shrines to the different deities with offerings including mantra, prayer, incense, flowers or other precious items.

 

While Yoga has borrowed powerful mantras and depictions of Gods & Goddesses to help us invoke, embody, realise ad benefit from the beauty and power they represent, deity meditation or chanting, does not mean that we have subscribe to any religious belief in order to tap into the immense beauty and power of the this practice.

 

Each Hindu God is one tiny aspect of Supreme Being. Deities are simply archetypes that are used to represent patterns of thoughts and behavior that are universally present in individual psyches.  By en-chanting and embodying these qualities in sound and form, we can better identify, honour, and invoke these characteristics and qualities within ourselves, and welcome ourselves into the skirt of their protection.

 

In short, learning to work with mantras and deity meditation in your Yoga practice can not only help you to connect to the ancient traditions upon which Yoga draws, but also help you to take yourself and your students on a deepening journey towards awakening,

 

 

Trinity of Supreme Gods in Hinduism:

Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva

Brahma

“Just think, Vishnu sleeps in the cosmic ocean, and the lotus of the universe grows from his navel. On the lotus sits Brahma, the creator. Brahma opens his eyes, and a world comes into being, governed by an Indra. Brahma closes his eyes, and a world goes out of being. The life of a Brahma is 432,000 years. When he dies, the lotus goes back, and another lotus is formed, and another Brahma. Then think of the galaxies beyond galaxies in infinite space, each a lotus, with a Brahma sitting on it, opening his eyes, closing his eyes.” – Joseph Campbell

 

  • Brahma is the God of Creation, the Cosmos and all its being. Brahma is the first of the Trimurti – the supreme trinity of Gods, along with Vishnu and Shiva

 

  • Symbolism – Brahma symbolises the mind and intellect as he is the source of all knowledge

 

  • Iconography: Brahma is depicted with 4 faces symbolising the completeness of knowledge, and 4 hands symbolizes aspects of the human personality – mind, intellect, ego and consciousness

 

  • Divine Consort: His divine consort is Saraswati who gives him knowledge to run the universe

 

  • Mantra:  We invoke Brahma to honour the Creator and great teacher

 

Gurubrahma Guruvishnu Gurudevo Maheswarah,

Guru saakshaat Param Brahma Tasmai shri guravey Namah.

Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya

2) Vishnu    

                                                                    

The glorious Vishnu is the sole refuge of mortals. He is Infinite Light, Love and Wisdom.” – Swami Sivananda 

 

  • God of Preservation and Sustaining. Some of his avatars are Narayana, Vasudeva and Hare

 

  • Symbolises Justice, Moral order. He is omnipotent, omniscient and encourages kindness

 

  • Divine Consort: Lakshmi – Goddess of wealth and happiness

 

  • Iconography: Vishnu is often depicted as having dark blue, blue-grey or black skin, holding a conch shell – spiral symbolism of all interconnected cyclic experience, , a chakra – war disk symbolising that which restorces dharma and cosmic equilibrium with war if necessary, a club – symbolising authority and power of knowledge, and a lotus flower which symbolizes purity and transcendence

 

  • Mantra: We invoke Vishnu and his avatars for help with patience, liberation, compassion, prosperity and when you need help remaining at peace in the face of fear or worry:

 

3) Shiva       

                                                          

Fire is his head, the sun and moon his eyes, space his ears, the Vedas his speech, the wind his breath, the universe his heart. From his feet the Earth has originated. Verily, he is the inner self of all beings.” — The Upanishads

 

  • Shiva is the God of death and destruction – destroying the ego, and any illusion of separateness

 

  • Symbolism: Shiva is known as the Protector and Destroyer as he helps to to move beyond small concerns to bring us to a still point so we can recognise the bigger picture

 

  • Iconography: Shiva, can almost always be seen depicted in deep meditation, representing pure consciousness and bliss. His body is covered in ashes reminding us that material existence is impermanent. He has a serpent around his neck – representing he ego which has no place in his body,  he is adornin a crescent moon to represent the infinite cycles, the holy river Ganga flowing from his matted hair, the 3rd eye on his forehead, the trident, as his weapon, and the drum. He is usually worshipped in the form of lingam. 

 

  • Family: Shiva is the Divine Consort of Shakti, Father of Ganesha & Skanda – god of war

 

  • Mantra – We invoke Shiva to align with the union at the heart of Yoga, to help us let go old habits and attachments, and to destroy greed, lust, anger, illusion and ignorance, which create hardship and challenge and stand in the way of peace and enlightenment

 

Om Namah Shivaya

Jaya Shiva Shankara Bom Bom Hara Hara!

Trinity of Supreme Goddesses in Hinduism:

Saraswati, Lakshmi, Kali

The Goddesses Durga, Lakshmi, and Kali are all manifestations of Shakti, Shiva’s consort. These representations of Ma, the Divine Feminine, govern the world of forms, and each gives us tools to navigate the here and now of our daily lives

Om Namah Shivaya

Jaya Shiva Shankara Bom Bom Hara Hara!

4) Saraswati

Only ‘knowledge’ can help us to know the universe, which is vast like an ocean. It enlightens all minds.”— The Rig Veda         

  • Saraswati means “The Flowing One”.  She is the Goddess of language, knowledge, wisdom, flow, the arts
  • Divine Consort of Brahman, Daughter of shiva and durga

 

  • Iconography & Symbolism: Saraswati is represented as a beautiful woman, wearing a white dress and riding a swan, playing a lute upon a pure white lotus – the symbol of the 7th chakra correlated with ultimate bliss and enlightenment.

 

  • Saraswati is depicted with four hands representing four aspects of human personality in learning: mind, intellect, alertness and ego.   She is depicted holding sacred scriptures in one hand and a lotus in the second. With her other two hands she plays the music of love and life on a string instrument called the veena.  

 

  • Mantra: We invoke Saraswati to help us with our creative flow, expression and communication, to help support our studies and to help us cultivate discernment – that which takes us away from enlightenment and that which takes us towards.

 

 

5) Lakshmi

 

“It sometimes strikes me how immensely fortunate I am that each day should take its place in my life, either reddened with the rising and setting sun, or refreshingly cool with deep, dark clouds, or blooming like a white flower in the moonlight. What untold wealth!” –  Rabindranath Tagore, Indian Poet     

           

                                                            

 

 

  • Lakshmi is the Goddess of abundance, prosperity, fertility, purity, grace

 

 

 

  • Symbolism: She reminds us to be grateful for the material, spiritual and emotional abundance that we already have within ourselves – rather than what we lack.

 

 

  • Family: She is the Divine Consort to Vishnu, as well as the daughter of Vishnu and Durga

 

  • Iconography: Laksmi is elegantly dressed, with prosperous golden-colours, with an owl as her vehicle, signifying the importance of economic activity in maintenance of life, her ability to move, work and prevail in confusing darkness. 

 

She typically stands or sits on a lotus, while holding a lotus in her hand, symbolizing fortune, self-knowledge, and spiritual liberation. 

 

She is represented as having four hands, which represent the four aspects of human life important to Hindu culture:  dharma, kama, artha, moksha.

 

  • Mantra: We invoke Laksmi, to help support our success and prosperity, and also to help us appreciate with gratitude the abundance we already have.

 

Om Shreem Maha Lakshmiyei Namaha

Om Namoh Kali ma     

6) Kali

 

Whether Kali seems terrifying, fascinating, or loving depends on our state of consciousness and our level of both emotional and spiritual development. But she always invites us to a radical form of ego-transcendence.”

Sally Kempton,

 

 

  • Goddess of death,  time, change, destruction

 

 

 

  • Symbolises: Kali symbolizes the death of ego and reminds worshippers that the human body is a temporary condition only.

 

 

 

  • Family: Kali is the Divine Consort of Shiva

 

 

 

  • Iconography Kali is often depicted as a terrifying force, with blood dripping from her mouth, a protruding tongue, garland of skulls, a skirt of bones, and a sword that cuts away fear, ignorance, and greed – the delusions that keep us from finding peace and joy within our lives

 

 

 

  • Mantra: We invoke Kali for protection, and to help us cut-away what no longer serves us.

 

7) Durga    

 

“Roar with delight while you still can, O illiterate demon, because when I will kill you, the gods themselves will roar with delight”

Hindu Goddess Durga

 

 

 

 

  • Durga is the Goddess of War, also known as Divine Mother, Warrior Goddess, Leader, Fierce Compassion

 

  • Symbolises: Durga helps protect mankind from evil forces and misery: jealousy, prejudice, hatred and ego. 

 

  • Iconography: Durga is depicted riding a tiger, and with each of her eight arms holding a myriad of weapons, showing that she is always protecting mankind in every direction of the world.

 

  • Family: Divine Consort of Shiva

 

  • Mantra: We invoke Durga for protection, wisdom, blessings and strength, to help us rise up as fierce leaders to support the vulnerable. 

Om Dum Durgaye Namaha

Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha

8) Ganesha

 

“Remember, Yoga practice is like an obstacle race; many obstructions are purposely put on the way for us to pass through. They are there to make us understand and express our own capacities. We all have that strength, but we don’t seem to know it. We seem to need to be challenged and tested in order to understand our own capacities. In fact, that is the natural law. If a river flows easily, the water in the river does not express its power. But once you put an obstacle to the flow by constructing a dam, then you can see its strength in the form of tremendous power.”

 – Swami Satchitananda

 

 

  • Ganesha is the beloved elephant-headed God who is famous for being the remover of obstacles. 

 

  • Symbolism: Ganesha represents wisdom, good fortune and is also emblematic as being the both the remover and placer of obstacles– both those outside of us, those we place within our own paths. Ganesha rules the earth element and sits at the root chakra – muladhara,  reminding us to stay connected and rooted to the earth even when we are striving for divinity.

 

  • Family – Son of Shiva and Parvati

 

  • Iconography: Ganesha is represented as having an elephant’s head, riding or being attended to by his vehicle the mouse or shrewd.

 

  • Mantra: We invoke Ganesha at the beginning of anything – a practice, a day, a new journey to clear the way for new beginnings and to remove obstacles:  

 

 

9) Hanuman

                                                                    

“When I do not know who I am, I serve You; and when I do know who I am, You and I are One.”— Hanuman, The Shrī Rāmcharitmānas

 

       

 

  • Hanuman is the great warrior monkey God, and the original Bhakti Yogi

 

 

  • Symbolism – Hanuman is the symbol of devotion, strength, faith, perseverance and devotion. Like us, Hanuman often forgets his divinity, and reminds himself, by chanting Ram’s name over and over again to help him remember and bring him back to the path. 

 

 

 

  • Family: He is the faithful and devoted servant to Ram, an avatar or incarnation of Vishnu, and his wife, Sita.

 

 

 

  • Iconography: Hanuman is often depicted bowing or kneeling in devotion next to sita and ram, or by himself usually opening his chest to symbolically show images of Rama and Sita near his heart. 

 

 

 

  • Mantra: When we sing with our hearts and voices to Hanuman, we remind ourselves that we are at once human and divine. We also invoke Hanuman to help with physical strength, devotion, stamina and power.

Om Hanumanate Namah

Jai Sita Ram Jai Jai Hanuman

 

Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare 

Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare

10) Krishna  

 

“Just as a lamp in a windless place does not flicker, so the disciplined mind of a yogi remains steady in meditation on the self.” –  Krishna, The Bhagavad Gita    

                                                            

  • God of Ecstatic devotion (bhakta), embodied love & divine joy and the destroyer of pain 

 

  • Symbolism –  Krishna is the beloved main hero of the Bhagavad Gita. He is leader, teacher, and friend who represents the descent of the infinite to the finite material world

 

  • Family: Avatar of Vishnu, amongst many other avataras, Krishna is also popularly known as Govinda and Gopala

 

  • Iconography: Krishna is depicted as being blue to represent the color of the infinite which symbolizes the immeasurable and all pervading Reality, such as the sky or ocean can appear to the mortal eye as color blue.

 

  • Mantra: We invoke Krishna for purification, solace and bliss. It is often said that Krshna is the saviour of the humanity and the remover of all sufferings

 

 

Awesome right?! Ready to go even deeper?

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E-RYT 500 Yoga Alliance | Post-Grad Dip. Education, Queensland University of Technology | BA Psychology / Philosophy, McGill University

 

Yogi, Retreat Leader, Teacher Trainer, Event Curator and Creator of the award-winning Pure Flow Yoga School and boutique Retreat Center in Thailand, voted one of the top 8 Retreats worldwide by the Guardian, 2018. 

 

Francie is a dedicated Yogi, sacred sounds musician, entrepreneur, producer, and joy-spreader on a mission to uplift, educate, inspire and empower people to live embodied, joyful, connected, playful, fulfilled and awakened lives 

 

As a devoted practitioner and life-long student, Francie has studied thousands of hours with master spiritual teachers worldwide, and has curated, organised and led more than 200 transformational Yoga Retreats, teacher trainings, workshops and programs with over 1000+ students from all walks of life.

 

Francie’s classes are light and playful, yet deep and meaningful experiences to unwind your mind, open your heart and embody flow .

 

Francie is dedicated to uplifting, inspiring and empowering people to live joyful, connected, and awakened lives, and she is committed to being in service and to living an exceptional life of community, co-creation, celebration and flow.

Francie Fishman

Founder & Creator of Pure Flow Yoga, Teacher & Educator, Pure Flow Yoga

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How to Choose a Yoga Teacher Training: Top 10 Tips for Consideration

How to Choose a Yoga Teacher Training: Top 10 Tips for Consideration

How to Choose a Yoga Teacher Training:

Top 10 Tips to Keep in Mind

by Margit Selsjord

 

 
After almost 10 years of practicing yoga I finally felt brave enough to start looking for my first teacher training, and as a person who dreaded the idea of talking or teaching in front of people, it felt like the scariest thing ever.
 
But after finishing my first Yoga teacher training I asked myself why i hadn’t done it earlier?
 
Overcoming a fear is so thrilling and liberating, and the fear can be hiding a passion you had no idea about before facing it.
 
After the first training I completed, I started teaching free classes at my work place, and had a enthusiastic group showing up every week, most of them where new to yoga, and I was new to teaching, but together we grew more confident and brave.
 
I quickly signed up for my next teacher training, this time with my favourite yoga school – Pure Flow Yoga, and I feel proud to have been a part of the first training held by Francie Fishman and Atira Tan in Thailand.
 
In the list below i will share 10 important aspects when choosing and following trough with a YTT, things is wish I knew, what I’ve learned, and other experiences that i hope you will find helpful.

 

1. Check in with yourself/reflect/meditate

My first tip is to really check in and be real with what you want from a teacher training.
 
If something is holding you back from taking the plunge, it can be a good idea to meditate, find some stillness and reflect on these thoughts and feelings.
 
For me it was the fear of not being good enough, worthy or experienced enough to be a teacher, so then i had to investigate within where this fear came from, and if it had any validity in this moment and decision.
 
When something feels scary it might be because it is important.
 
 

2. Find your WHY

 
The Why is what personally drives you in life, and it also means being clear about your reasons to deepen your yoga practice, trough a Ytt or maybe start teaching.
 
What is it about yoga that is important to you, or what is it you want to contribute with in this world. 
 
Why do you want to do this?
 
Ask yourself this as many times you need.
 
Ask this and wait for an answer, write it down and revisit it a few times, then state it out loud. 
 
Finding your Why will help you keep up the motivation when in doubt or when having a rough day during an intense teacher training, helping to bring you closer to the core of your purpose.
 
 

3. Style/teacher

When i choose my first YTT I choose an Ashtanga Vinyasa training in Oslo, Norway.
 
I didn’t exclusively practice Ashtanga at this time, but was drawn to this style because of the thorough and structured style and sequence.
The teacher leading the course was very highly recommended due to her extensive background and experience. I had attended a few of her classes and knew I liked her personality and style.
 
This is important, because you need to trust and respect the person who is in charge. So testing out the teacher or knowing the school is a something i recommend.
 
The style of yoga you choose is often based on what you prefer to practice, but it can also be a style you want to learn, choosing the latter will affect how challenging the training will be, depending on having to learn a whole new style or just continue in the same style as you already practice.
 

 

4. Form, length, intensity

 
Thera are a few forms and ways a teacher training is conducted. The most well known type is the 1-month 200 hour intensive training.
 
This has become very popular, giving the students a certificate and diploma in as short of a time as possible.
 
What many forget to consider is that you will never become an experienced teacher in 30 days or so.
 
In fact many seasoned yoga teachers often attend teacher trainings on a yearly basis to get fresh inspiration and new input and knowledge.
 
There are no short cuts to deep and hard learned experience, it can take years and decades to become a truly good teacher. The good thing about a 1-month YTT is that it throws you in the deep end, and gives you a great toolkit to start your teaching, or simply deepening a practice.
 
My first YTT was a 4.5 month long part-time training adding up to 200 hours. This was great for me since i at the time had a full-time job. We met up every other weekend for two full days of workshops and practice, and we where expected to practice as much as we could outside the training. On top of this we had homework and wrote 6-7 essays about yoga philosophy.
 
If you have family, obligations or work and there is no free time to take 1 month away from everyday life, this form of training is highly recommended.
 
The downsides is that you get less space to concentrate on just the training, and it takes more effort to get back in. Also the classes are often on the weekends -which with a full time job- normally is for relaxation, rest and social meet ups, so you might end up feeling a bit depleted in these areas.
 
 

5. Reality check – Logistics of taking a month off

Now that you have become more clear about how, why, where and with whom, it is time to sit down and check out your finances, ask the boss for time off from work, and talk to you family and partner about what you want to do, so that you get the support and freedom you need to make it happen. 
 
Many teacher trainings offer an early bird discount if you can commit a few months in advance, which lets you save some money. 
 
After you have secured your YTT spot, the studio/school will most likely send you an welcome email with information about what you can expect and what to prepare/read etc.
 
If you don’t receive this kind of info, don’t be shy to write them first and ask.
 
Start researching the place/space for the training so that you are mentally prepared, letting them know dietary any preferences, book a flight, hotels, get that extra pair of leggings and get excited!
 

 

6. Prepare and read

 
One or two months before the training starts it is a good idea to start deepening your own yoga and meditation practice so that your body and mind is ready for the intense training, while getting enough sleep and food.
 
There will be so much going on at the training, so the more you can read and cram beforehand, the less you have to spent your precious free time at the training.
 
There is an extensive reading curriculum prepared for you to finish before the exam, so getting a head start is recommended. 
 
Buy a journal and start writing.
 
 

7. How to get through successfully

 
Before the training starts. write yourself a motivational letter, with why you are doing this, what makes you amazing, and how you can make the world a better place by just being you, and keep this letter for those hard to get out of bed days.
 
There will be lots of emotional and physical ups and downs during a training, and I can almost guarantee tears, but also lots of laughter and fun.
 
So prepare yourself to be pushed out of your comfort zone, and let go of the idea that you are in control.
 
There are many uncontrollable elements that can happen as a part of a training such as group dynamics, weather, female cycle, upset stomach, sleep deprivation and monkeys (yes really, at Pure flow yoga, monkeys happen, and they will steal your attention, and bananas!).
 
The trick is to meet each challenging situation seeing it as a teacher, lesson or friend, and ask yourself what is it within you that makes it hard?
 
These lessons can be the most powerful teachings you are left with after a training.
 
 

8. Overcoming nerves and expectations

 
No matter how experienced you are or how many trainings you have done, there will be pressure or nerves surfacing at some point or many during the training. 
 
In my experience this can be caused not just by you, but also by the group you are spending your days with.  This is almost unavoidable when being this close and sharing space and practices together.
 
When, and if you feel contagious nerves or pressure from the group members, try to get some space and shield yourself until you have calmed down.
 
Going for a walk, swim, being alone, dancing in your bungalow or talking to loved ones can help you get back to yourself, don’t forget there is a world outside your yoga training bubble.
 
Read your motivation letter, and remember who you are!
 
 

9. Preparing for exams

 
When the last week is arriving, the pressure will be on. You might be expected to teach a small group, half a class, know the names of poses/asana and basic philosophy and history. This varies greatly from training to training. 
 
My tip here is to re-read all your own notes a few times, underline the core of the lessons. Then focus on the teaching skills, practice projecting your voice, and ask as many questions as you can.
 
Remember what your WHY is, and be mindful about what you came here for, and what you want to take back with you.
 
Find a way to have fun, this way you will remember more of what you learned, and your love for yoga will shine trough. 
 
On the exam day, take some time to meditate before it all starts, have your white clothes ready(some yoga schools uses white garments for opening- and closing ceremonies).
 
Stay with your breath and trust that you know much more than you think.
 
Then take the photos with the teachers, co-students, celebrate, eat a great meal, have a dance party, and call home to let them know you did it!
 
 

10. What to do after:  Integration

 
First you might need a break, taking a teacher training savasana so that the heart/body/mind can soak up and integrate all the goodies you have learned.
 
Then revisit your why and see if this have changed, or developed.
 
You might have gone from thinking you will never teach, to being super excited about the thought of teaching. If so, get in touch with studios that you like, and ask if  they need a fresh teacher.
 
Often the way to go is to teach for free or by donation until you feel confident, and comfortable with the teacher role.
 
Patience is the key.
Look for interesting spaces you can rent cheaply or use for free, look for places where you can volunteer, or a spot in a park near by. Make a public account on a social media, make a mailing list, or the old school way of hanging up posters in the area where you want to teach.
 
 
I hope this helps you to find and complete your perfect YTT!
 
As always, we LOVE hearing from you. Please let us know below:
Which tip you found most valuable?
Do you have any other tips?
 
 

Upcoming Events

Love & Inspirations

Margit started her yoga journey over 10 years ago in Norway when she was looking for a way to befriend her anxiety and depression. She quickly noticed how a regular yoga and meditation practice improved her life quality tremendously, and want to pass on the knowledge that have helped her in such a profound way.
 
Margit`s mission as a yoga teacher is to inspire people to live from the heart; being courageous, honest, vulnerable and compassionate, and to discover how powerful meditation and yoga practices can be, and to experience how a steady practice can reduce suffering and bring more lightness and consciousness to the whole being. 
 
In her practice she is passionate about using the breath to go deeper in yoga asana, and combines inspiration from different traditions like Ashtanga, Yin yoga and Hatha to teach a balanced and mindful class for every levels and bodies. 
 
With her background as an artist and photographer she sees yoga and meditation as a tool that everybody can use in their own life, making more space for creativity, clarity and happiness. 
 
She believes in a holistic yoga lifestyle on a plant based diet, and is a enthusiastic vegan cheese maker and home cook.
 
– 200 hour YTT Ashtanga Vinyasa, Hiyoga, Norway
– 200 hour YTT Hatha Vinyasa, Pure Flow yoga, Thailand
– 4 x 5-day Vipassana meditation retreat with Christopher Titmuss, Germany
– 7-day new year Vipassana at Gaia House, England
– 3 x 5-day Yoga Retreat, Pure flow yoga, Thailand
– 2 x 5-day Yoga Retreat, Blooming lotus yoga, Thailand
– 12 hour yoga sadhana intensive with Gregor Maelhe, Hiyoga, Norway
Margit Selsjord

Sprout Yoga

What makes an Exceptional Yoga Teacher

What makes an Exceptional Yoga Teacher

Want to become an Exceptional Yoga Teacher?

5 Qualities of the World’s Top Yoga Teachers

Ready to start teaching?

Or, are you ready to refine how you already share?

First, Think about your life and the favourite teachers that you’ve had.  

What are the attributes that set these teacher apart for you?

 

From the moment I fell in love with yoga, I started a journey of traveling and study with a vast range of teachers and styles to try and deepen my own practice of course, and also to see what works and what doesn’t, what resonates with people and what makes an exceptional teacher.

Having great teachers is so necessary for our development as students and as teachers alike.  When I meet a teacher whose style I truly resonate with, someone who knows their stuff, and cares about my progress, it sparks a remembrance in me of who I really am.  It inspires me – it literally fills me with spirit –  and the lessons and feelings that I glean from these people, I carry forward into my life and beyond.

There are many qualities that set exceptional teachers apart, and

Here’s just a few of the key qualities I’ve discovered:

 

 

1. Depth – The Practice goes beyond Asana:

 

Contrary to popular belief,  an exceptional yoga teacher may not necessarily be the most advanced Yoga asana practitioner.

 

While asanas are awesome for challenging the bodymind with the discipline of practice, and for releasing stuck energy in the body so that we’re more open and flexible, being able to do a fancy arm balance or an impressive advanced pose is in and of itself not an indicator of someone who is an avid yogi or someone who has unlocked the key to peace and love.

 

What’s inspiring for me in a Yoga teacher, so far beyond any spiritual costumery on the outside, is seeing how they LIVE Yoga Philosophy on the inside.  Seeing how they incorporate the ethics and disciplines (yamas and niyamas) of Yoga in to their everyday lives, helps remind me that to be human is to be on a journey, and one that is full of sufferings as well as breakthroughs.

 

Humility, Willingness to practice, to learn from every experience, and to try and live from LOVE vs FEAR is one of the aspects that really endears me to a great teacher.

 

 

2. Passion, Lifelong learning & deep knowledge

 

In my heart, the best Yoga teachers have an absolutely insatiable passion for the path of Yoga and it’s practices.

 

The teachers who inspire me the most, truly walk the walk of Yoga and only teach what they have first learned and considered within themselves.

 

Their commitment to ongoing learning and exploration to their own yoga practice is what allows their teaching to be authentic, relatable, and engaging.

 

 

3. Creating & Holding Safe & Supportive Space

 

An exceptional Yoga teacher knows how to create a safe and sacred space in which her students feel welcome, invited, comfortable, resepcted and able to  completely relax into the moment, let go, come into their bodies, become present and breathe.

 

An exceptional Yoga teacher has high expectations of her students and lovingly encourages everyone to do their best.  She helps her students see that every moment has the potential to teach us something about ourselves.

 

 

4. Excellent communication

 

Being able to effectively and clearly communicate is another quality of exceptionally teacher.

 

There’s a big difference between being passionate about yoga, and sharing that passion in a way that is in service to our students.

 

Being able to clearly articulate alignment cues, breath and intention reminders, weave relevant stories, anecdotes, and examples into the narrative flow of a class is key to helping people feel connected and cohesive.

 

When communication is crystal clear, students can focus on their own practice, looking within without too much distraction, or trying to figure out what other people n the class are doing.

 

I find it most powerful and effective, when a teacher speaks in simple accessible and positive language, effectively uses praise, individuals names, and avoids using negative trigger words such as don’t never etc.

 

When people feel positive and connected, they are more likely to take the goodness of the practice forward with them off the mat and into life.

 

 

5. Pleasant Personality & Emotional intelligence

 

An exceptional teachers meets their students where they’re at, and guides them with warmth, love, and compassion.

 

Our roles as Yoga teachers are fluid: Sometimes we need to support our students through emotional moments, sometimes we need to offer them deepening intellectual experiences, and sometimes we need to challenge our students on a physical level.

 

Being able to tune into the mind of the room, and working out what students need most, both individually and collectively in the moment, is an important skill for an exceptional teacher.

In conclusion,

A great Yoga teacher not only talks the talks, but also walks the walk.

They have passion for the depths of Yoga and its practices,

is a lifelong learner, has an engaging personality and ability to hold space,

and has an effective teaching and communication style,

leading classes that help students to

feel better at the end of the class then at the beginning.

 

 

Now I wanna hear from you: What are some of the qualities of the greatest Yoga teachers you’ve practiced with and Why?

And if you’re ready to take the leap, we’d love YOU to join us for our Upcoming Yoga Teacher Training! 🙂

 

Join our Yoga Teacher Training List to get exclusive resources for teachers

and info on our upcoming teacher trainings and continuing education experiences!

Francie is a multi-passionate and free-spirited Yogi, hula hooper, musician and lover of all things Magic. She has led over a hundred retreats over the past 6 years, and is the inspired founder of Pure Flow Yoga & True:Nature Experience in Koh Phangan, Thailand where she spends half of the year offerings daily Yoga classes, workshops and ongoing transformational Yoga Retreats in Paradise. Check out some of Francie’s Music on Bandcamp and like her Facebook page: Francie Fishman :Yoga Hoop Music Love  to stay tuned in about Francie’s personal travel & teaching calendar, music, playlists, blog posts and more.  Want to invite Francie to teach near you? Contact here

Francie Fishman

Founder, Pure Flow Yoga

We’d love to hear from you in the comments below: 

What are some other qualities Yoga teachers that stand out in your life?

Tips for Living a more Sattvic life

Tips for Living a more Sattvic life

The Gunas

10 Tips for Living a more Sattvic Life

Living in Balance: Introducing the Gunas

 

 

Welcome. Before we get to the tips on how to live a more sattvic and balanced life, let’s have a look at what that means.

 

First of all, Finding and maintaining Balance is key to Yoga.

 

There are many reasons people come to Yoga: Some people come to Yoga to build more strength, some people come for more flexibility and some for more balance clarity and calmness.  We are ever-fluctuating beings, and Yoga is a kind of adaptogen that has the capacity to really meet us where we are at in any given moment to give us what we need.

 

In Yoga philosophy, all matter arises from the fundamental substance of the universe, called Prakriti. From Prakriti come the three primary gunas (qualities) that create the essential aspects of all nature—energy, matter and consciousness.

 

These three gunas are tamas (darkness), rajas (activity), and sattva (beingness).

 

All three gunas are always present in all beings, fluctuating and varying in their relative amounts, and the balance of the three Guna’s is vital for our health and our happiness.

 

We want to be tamasically grounded to the earth so that we can rest and sleep and connect, rajasically passionate and fired-up about our work and what we do, and sattvically calm and at peace to realise our goal of freedom, of our true nature.

 

Humans have the unique opportunity to consciously alter the levels of the gunas in our bodies and minds, through our interaction with external objects, lifestyle and thought patterns.

 

Essentially, through our practice of Yoga, and finding more balance, we want to cultivate as much Sattva, as possible.

 

Our basic nature is Sattva  – clear, calm, creative, positive, creative force,  with just enough Rajas – dynamic force and Tamas – negative force,  to make things happen.

 

Sattva – Light & Purity, Equilibrium, knowledge, (associated with creation)

 

is a state of balance and harmony, peace, tranquility, sattva is the naturally arising state originating from being true to your inner teacher, guru, god. By purifying body, senses, and mind, the yogi can experience natural self.

 

Rajas – Activity, Passion, Action (associated with preservation)

 

When we identify ourselves with actions, with the roles we play in life, with praise received from others, we are in a rajasic state when the mind is identified with the concepts of karma, that which we sow and what which we reap.

 

Tamas – Darkness, Inertia, Lethargy, Ignorance (associated with destruction)

 

Darkness, ignorance, lazy nature of the mind or body, a force that tells us to take a break and relax when we are near to completing a project whose deadline is approaching – as a result we do not finish the race.

 

 

10 Tips for living a more Sattvic Lifestyle:

To experience being established in health and in oneself, we need to follow a sattvic lifestyle with a deep connection to our lifestyle, diet, physical & mental exercise.

 

1. Eat foods that are organic, fresh, in season, vegetarian, locally produced

According to Yogic philosophy, the mind is formed of the essence of food. If food eaten is pure then it brings inner peace to the body in and encourages spiritual progress.

 

2. Live in harmony with the rhythms of the day and seasons.

Regulate your daily events, eating at similar times each day and sleeping at regular times to ensure that you have enough sleep 6 – 8 hours usually. “There is no possibility of one to become a yogi… if one eats too much, or eats too little, sleeps too much or does not sleep enough” – Bhagavad Gita

 

3. Meditate/ pray as first and last events of the day

Even spending  just a few moments to center yourself each day can have a profound effect on your overall state. 

Click here to try some of our free guided meditations here.

 

4. Sleep early, Wake and Rise before the sun to 

Capture the high vibrational prana, or life-force energy, that is present just before and after the sun rises, also known as the brahma muhurta. Delight in the glorious display of colours and vibrations that are present at this magical sunrise time of day, when the veils between dark and light are said to be at their most thin.

 

5. Develop Sattvic states of mind.

Peace, calm, positivity, presence, clarity, enthusiasm, joy, happiness, honesty, humility, flexibility, moderation, balance, gratitude, inner silence – these are the sattvic states to cultivate through our practice.   Yoga, meditation, journalling, being in nature – these are some examples of activities that can help cultivate these states. 

Click here to Join us for a Yoga retreat in magical paradise to get you started on your journey!

 

6. Engage in conscientious hard work that contributes good and service in the world.

Engaging in work that is in alignment with your heart and with the good of others and the planet helps to in turn nourish you with more of the aforementioned sattvic states.  If you engage in work or daily habits or behaviours that leave you feeling anxious, dread, doom or gloom in anyway, this is an indication that change may be necessary.  If you need help getting clarity, taking a step away from your everyday life, and joining a Yoga retreat in paradise, can help offer you some much needed support, instruction and perspective. 

 

7. Always tell the truth and avoid hurting anyone’s heart

 

“The truth will set you free” – famous quote from the bible that gives such excellent life instruction.  There is clarity, and lightness in speaking truth and in speaking love.  Gossiping, neglecting to be honest or leaving out truths, and telling non-truths even in the spirit of avoiding hurting someone’s heart, always has the tendency to rear it’s ugly head at some point, and often does more harm to the communicator than anyone else. 

 

8. Study spiritual text and educational, inspirational and uplifting words

 

Malcom Gladwell in his book “Outlier’s” has famously shared his theory that to become expert in anything we need to spend 10,000 hours in dedicated practice or study.  Similarly, if you want to live with Sattva as your baseline state of being, it is important that you input as much of all of the above points in to your life as often as possible.  Books, podcasts, videos from great masters are all great ways to immerse your self in in positivity, clarity and insight. 

Click here to check out our awesome book recommendations for you here. 

 

9. Listen deeply when spoken to and offer compassionate words

 

Presence is the greatest gift we can offer ourselves and others.  When you are with someone, offer them your full presence. 

 

10.  Live mindfully and in the present moment

Be awake to the emotions, feelings and mental and physical states that are present to you this NOW.  Each moment can be our teacher if we allow it to be.  There is so much information in each moment that can help us know ourselves more, and cultivate more calm, presence and sattva.

 

 

 

Ready to bring more sattva into your life?

I can help.

 

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