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The Teacher Who is a Pupil Within is the Real Teacher

BKS Iyengar writes about teaching yoga and how humility can be a tool for teachers and students alike to create a harmonious and open connection towards enlightenment.

I do not pat teachers easily, though my teachers go out of their way to pat those who come to them. Instead, I want them (the teachers) to look at their (the pupils’) needs and to remove obstacles that come in their path of learning. For this, the teachers need re-learning and retraining in their own sadhana to find ways and means to guide those who want to overcome the obstacles to progress. Expression of gratefulness from pupils is one thing. But, to think and find ways for their progress is another thing. If such students come to me, I consider myself a fortunate man, as they act as eye-openers in my practice and I inwardly remain grateful to them.

Teaching is learning and re-learning is the true teaching. Accept your pupils as a blessing from God to help you re-open your intelligence to re-think and re-act with wide-open eyes. See the generosity of God who sends you such students who pay you to refine your sadhana, both in teaching and learning.

Teaching is learning and re-learning is true teaching.

Each pupil who comes to you comes with some new problems. No two persons are alike. Therefore, teaching cannot be repeating instructions like a parrot. Each pupil has to be studied. The teacher has to go down to the level of understanding of the pupils. The teacher has to acquire experience by thinking and learning. The process of adjustment for each pupil is different and opens out new angles of thought.

Do not differentiate between yourself and your pupil. If a teacher creates a distance between him and the students, he becomes egotistic; then the communication gap between the teacher and the student builds up. A teacher becomes a teacher because he knows a little more than his pupils. That does not make one a master. There may be many unknown things which have to be known. Compassion, strictness and discipline need to be utilized when necessary. Treat the pupils with love, compassion and be firm while teaching. Roar like a lion from outside, but be a lamb inside.

You have seen me losing my temper on teachers when they assist me. I am doubly watchful of teachers because I know the responsibility of a teacher. I may act as a ferocious teacher in order to bring alertness and clarity in them while they are teaching. When the teachers come to me to learn then they have to forget that they are teachers. They have to be pupils. I want the, to reflect every now and then on what they are teaching.

I want the teachers to reflect every now and then on what they are teaching!

When students come to you to learn, treat them as God, as we are all children of God, but from the outside treat them as pupils. As you see yourself in the mirror, see also a reflection on their faces whether their learning is in the right direction or not. Point out errors, show how to corrects them and keep a watch whether they persist or not.

Learn to teach by blending your head and heart. Weigh the intellect of the head and emotional intelligence of the heart evenly. As a teacher, you must be a pupil within.

Learn to teach by blending your head and your heart.

Do some homework by investigating what you gave and what you missed in your teaching.

When pupils commit mistakes, think whether you too commit such mistakes. I did that before and I do this even now. This studentship in me has made me be a good teacher.

So please, do not practice yoga with the sole motive to become a teacher. If an occasion arises then accept it to teach. While learning, I never thought that I might have to teach. Circumstances forced me to become a teacher. If pupils did not come to me, I said that it was God’s wish that I devote my time for more practice. And when pupils came I would say to myself that it is God’s wish that I should serve them. I both ways, I took it as God’s grace.


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