Samyak Yoga Blog

Is my Yoga Teacher Guru or a Friend?
By Yogacharya Rakesh
July 10, 2018

I had an interesting discussion with one of the trainees of Ashtanga Yoga Teacher Training this week. We were discussing how the “traditional teaching methods” have been and the approach of modern teachers.

Most often Yoga Teachers in the past were very strict. They used to beat or yell at the students if students wouldn’t have practiced or learned the way teachers would expect.

Yogacharya B K S Iyengar was one of the most famous Gurus being very strict with his students. – Guru with a Stick – Times of India

Even B K S Iyengar had to bear the strict teaching methods of his Guru Sri T Krishnamacharya. Most of the Indian, perhaps the Asian teachers teaching Yoga, other Schools of Philosophy have been very orthodontically strict in their teaching.


Though it may appear to be quite an intense way of teaching, it brings alertness in students’ perspectives. It offers no option for the students to repeat the mistakes due to the teacher’s expression of anger. There was also a student-teacher relationship only. This method does not have space for friendship or a customer-business approach.


Modern teachers aren’t very strict compared to previous generations. The teachers are being adaptive to what students need and make teaching more accessible. It’s rare to see a modern Yoga teacher being as strict as those of previous generations. There is a friendship, understanding and the methods of learning are evolving. Some even consider their students as their friends.


Though the modern polished-flexible teaching method is accessible and student-oriented, it can reduce the student-teacher relationship. You shouldn’t be friends with your Yoga teacher. He/She is your teacher, not a friend. The Yoga teacher is not an authority wherein you need to bow down and surrender. However, the teacher can’t be treated as just another guy but a teacher.

The teacher is not a Guru. Guru is completely a different term and a teacher has a long way to go. He/She can’t be a Guru just being a Yoga Teacher. The teacher can be friendly, but can’t be a friend to you.

The Yoga teacher should always treat the students as equal to him/her in his teaching method while the students shouldn’t think so! They should treat the teacher with respect and humbleness. This bond is somewhere between the authoritarian attitude and friendship. The thin line between these two extremes bring a balance and learning can be progressive.

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