BE YOUR OWN GURU
Guidelines for Healthy
Relationships with your Yoga Teacher/Guru
devoted to the practice of yoga, we find ourselves in sacred relationships with
our teachers-including our yoga teachers, gurus, meditation teachers, etc.
Finding a teacher/guru is very personal. Taking care of that relationship is
the responsibility of both students
and teachers alike. Here are 18 tips on how to keep your boundaries healthy and
your practice sacred.
- Hold on to your power!
out and research the community's group dynamics. Ask questions. Let your
teacher/guru earn your trust. Find out the history of the teacher. Interview
them. How conscious are they? What's the history of people in the
organization/community? How have people been treated in the past? Observe the
teacher's relationships with their own family and community.
- Remember that only you can realize the answers to your deepest
Don't project by expecting any person other than yourself to have
all the answers to your questions. The answers you're looking for will be
played out in your own experience and practice, by setting an intention for a
question to be answered. All you have to do is
pay attention in your life, the answers present
themselves as an expression of nature's intelligence.
if your yoga teacher/guru is touching you or other students inappropriately.
don't have to second-guess yourself on this one. You don't have to figure out
in your head what inappropriate means..you'll feel it in your gut. Listen to your
intuition. The ideal situation is for a teacher to ask
for permission or inform you when they are going to physically adjust your
position in class.
- Be aware of YOUR issues.
by knowing yourself can you avoid acting out. If you have addictive or compulsive behaviors, be aware if you are
acting them out with your teacher/guru. Look for patterns of behavior between the two of you that
feel habitual or reminiscent of past relations that were unhealthy.
boundaries on gurus/teachers meeting with you privately in
inappropriate environments: alone at your home, hotel room, etc. If you are
starting to do enjoyable outings with just the two of you, then the
relationship is turning into a personal friendship or a romantic interest. Be
aware and true to yourself about the reality of the relationship. If you're sexually attracted to
your guru or yoga teacher, that may be a good reason NOT to go. Put limits on
how frequently you seek contact.
teachers/gurus who take advantage of people who are vulnerable.
are naturally more vulnerable when going through a shift psychologically,
financially, emotionally, or spiritually because of a death, an illness, a
breakup, a financial situation, a psychological insecurity, or a period of
rapid change. Their vulnerability needs to be respected, not taken advantage
of by anyone.
- Keep in contact with friends
and family; don't lose yourself.
wary of attempts to alienate you from friends and family. Giving up your ego identification is a good thing. However,
alienation from your family and friends is a warning sign. If people close to
you start questioning your perception of your teacher/guru, listen up.
aware if you are seeking a 'missing part of yourself.'
if you are casting about trying to fill a missing role, such as the father
figure you never had. Avoid going into a community with an illusion that your
yoga teacher/guru can fulfill the needs that weren't filled by your family,
relationship, community, work, etc.
your teacher/guru show favoritism?
you notice the teacher/guru's behavior or energy shift in regard to certain
people (young attractive women, for example, or people with money, status, or
you in a dance of enhancement, intimacy and exploitation?
your teacher/guru know intimate information about your dreams, who you are,
your buttons, your desires? Are you slowly being drawn into greater and greater
you star struck?
Do you have the illusion that
your yoga teacher/guru is a perfect being and that you will never measure up or
be at their level? Are you just wanting someone to
follow rather than do you own work to become aware that you are already a
divine being that can be their own guru? Is the guru/teacher moving you and
others in the group toward this total awareness of your true being?
public power for personal gratification.
your teacher/guru use his or her personal power to gain sex, money, free or
cheap labor, more followers, or ego gratification?
you feel you can successfully negotiate with your teacher/guru?
you feel successful when negotiating money, service, or any other important
issues? Is it difficult to negotiate successfully and get your needs met in
whether the teacher/guru's longtime students are independent.
your yoga teacher/guru push students out of the nest and make them independent,
or keep them dependent upon him or her? Do the students become teachers? Can
they function on their own?
Assertive and make it clear that the teacher/guru must ask permission.
If you feel there is an energetic exchange that you
haven't given permission for, make it clear that you do not want such energy
without giving your permission first. Be wary if your yoga teacher/guru doesn't
explain when they're giving you energy, why they're giving you energy, or what is intended to happen as a result. Pay special attention if your teacher withholds knowledge even
after worthy inquiry.
siddhis used to awe and inspire?
suddhis, such as manifesting items, or something as
common as picking up on your thoughts etc., doesn't mean your teacher is
enlightened. Quite the contrary, if a person is at a high vibration, they don't
need to prove it. Doing so is a sign of ego.
times the guru or teacher is fine, but the organization has gone sour.
groups can exploit the guru as well as the devotee. Be wary of enabling
dysfunctional groups by pretending everything is fine no matter what.
that the truth always surfaces.
it's hard for people in the community to speak the truth, take note. Be a
harbinger for truth; don't be afraid to speak up. In time, the truth always
Griggers, PhD, teaches Boundaries and Communication at the Institute for Psycho
Structural Balancing in Los Angeles, and has a private bodymind integration
practice in Santa Monica (www.onebodymind.net).
Stacia Dyess, MFA, Writing
Consultant and President of BeginWithin, a Nonprofit Organization committed to
bringing meditation to Los Angeles businesses and organizations on-site.