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What does a Good Yoga Teacher Look Like?

Today, I read an article where the characteristics of a certain celebrity was being used as a model for a good Yoga teacher. This celebrity did something that the author considered brave.  While it is true that the characteristics, listed in the article, make a great Yoga teacher, I was concerned. I was concerned because there are teachers out there that do have these characteristics but they usually are not that popular. I was concerned that we cannot recognize these characteristics unless they come in a pretty, wealthy, high visibility package.

I was concerned that we don’t have the ability to recognize the teachers that spend 24/7 bravely living their truth because truth is not always that exciting.  Its not always pretty. It is not always pleasant. It is not always loud.  It is not always convenient. It’s not always bending a knee at a ball game when the National Anthem is played. It is also the every day action of withdrawing support of things, people, businesses and practices that don’t uphold truth. Truth does not always have to be protesting inequality in the street, truth can be treating everyone equally and with kindness on a daily basis. Yes, we need high visibility truth as a catalyst, but that one instance is not enough. If we are to make a lasting impact on the world, we need daily, 24/7 truth.

Freedom is not necessarily exciting; it’s just free. Very peaceful and quiet, so very quiet. Of course, it is also filled with joy and wonder, but it is not what you imagine. It is much, much less. Many mistake the intoxicating power of otherworldly charisma for enlightenment. More often than not it is simply otherworldly, and not necessarily free or enlightened. In order to be truly free, you must desire to know the truth more than you want to feel good. Because if feeling good is your goal, then as soon as you feel better you will lose interest in what is true. This does not mean that feeling good or experiencing love and bliss is a bad thing. Given the choice, anyone would choose to feel bliss rather than sorrow. It simply means that if this desire to feel good is stronger than the yearning to see, know, and experience Truth, then this desire will always be distorting the perception of what is Real, while corrupting one’s deepest integrity. -Adyashanti

Yoga Sutras 1:8-Misconception occurs when knowledge of something is not based upon its true form.


Shanna Small has been practicing Ashtanga Yoga and studying the Yoga Sutras since 2001. She has studied in Mysore with Sharath Jois and is the Director of AYS Charlotte, a school for traditional Ashtanga in Charlotte NC. She has written for Yoga International and the Ashtanga Dispatch. Go here for more information on AYS Charlotte. For information on workshops, please e-mail

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