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Qualities of a Good Yoga Student

 

By Yogi Baba Prem

 

While more students are taking yoga classes than at any other time in history, yoga has often become something that we ‘take‘or ‘do‘. We attend class; we are going to yoga; we have purchased the latest fashions for yoga class. But occasionally, we miss the point that yoga is a maturing process of our limited consciousness and preparation for infinite consciousness, which requires that it become a lifestyle as opposed to something we ‘take‘ or ‘do‘. But for others, they have attained the maximum levels of flexibility, cultivating the ability to achieve tremendous pretzel like postures, which is an impressive accomplishment. We take great pride is our physical prowess. Capturing photos of ourselves in difficult postures with beautiful backdrops that showcase the beauty of our posture encapsulated by a beautiful scene from nature; we then share our impressive accomplishments with others posting these on the latest social media venues. It would be true to say that there is a great deal of focus on mastery of asana (posture). And in reality, we have produced a large number of highly skilled asana practitioners. But are we teaching a complete yoga system?

 

Less frequently students are taught the qualities that are associated with those beautiful asana‘s and picturesque backdrops. As a complete system, we should not only demonstrate our physical prowess, but should work towards becoming the living embodiment of higher qualities and high consciousness.   Yoga should be a system of cultivating and awakening qualities within student‘s, not from a judgemental standpoint but from a standpoint of evolving consciousness. As students do not necessary need to be judged regarding their current mentality, but the practice of yoga and guidance from a teacher should cultivate the qualities of a good student over time. In ancient times, the qualities of a good student were expected to already be present.  In the current age, the primary requirement is not much more than cash in hand.  Clearly a compromise is necessary.  In the modern age, it may not be realistic for all student’s to have mastered the classical requirements for being a student, but they should possess various qualities and the initial focus should be on focusing on cultivation of the qualities that are not as yet firmly established. 

 

To examine the qualities of a good student, we will explore an Ayurvedic text. While one might argue that these qualities are for a student of Ayurveda, they are applicable to yoga as well.

 

As one reviews these qualities, let us ask, ‘What makes a good student?’ or  ‘How can I become a better student?’ As the ability to be an expression of and living example of the qualities provides an important function, namely the ability to embrace and hold the yogic grace.  The various levels of grace are vital to embrace the deeper levels of yoga.

 

In the Chakra Samhita, there is section that introduces the qualities of a good student. For the average student they will possess several to a few of these qualities. All students can use this criteria as map for improving their quality life, personal peace, happiness and joy in the world. Teachers can use the list as a guide in speaking with students. I will list 23 of these qualities; some will have a brief commentary:

 

1. Tranquility.

This is a difficult quality for most students to possess, especially when we consider that most students come to class to discover tranquility. But I have observed in the past year or two, a growing discomfort with relaxation. We have become so stressed out as a society that becoming relaxed has become unnerving to some people. We must not let this become the norm‖ within our society; it will have grave consequences if it does.

 

2. Generosity.

It is always a blessing to give, especially when something is given with-out attachment. This is not just a reference to money, but giving time, giving love, and similar qualities.

 

3. Aversion to mean acts.

 

4. Absence of morbidity.

 

5. Perseverance.

 

6. Freedom from vanity.

 

7. Presence of intellect and power of reasoning and memory.

Those deprived of intelligence do not make for good yoga students. The practice of yoga requires a powerful and expansive mind. In old times, student‘s would be told information to test their memory and see how powerful their recollection was.

 

8. Liberal mindedness.

Yoga should introduce new concepts, ideas, and philosophies. It should take you out of your ―comfort‖ zone and require the use of memory, the power of reasoning and the intellect.

 

9. Disposition of a practitioner.

 

10. Inquisitiveness for truth.

The student must desire to know the truth and be willing to search it out in their heart using yoga techniques and guidance from the teacher.

 

11. A healthy body.

 

12. Unimpaired senses.

 

13. Modesty or absence of ego.

 

14. Ability to understand the real meaning of things.

 

15. Absence of irritability.

 

16. Absence of addictions.

 

17. Good character—consisting of purity, conduct, love for study, enthusiasm, sympathetic disposition.

 

18. Devotion to study.

 

19. Uninterrupted tastes for the theory and practice of yoga.

 

20. Absence of greed and laziness.

 

21. Good will for living beings.

 

22. Following the instruction of the teacher.

 

23. Devotion to the teacher.

 

While some students will possess many of the attributes, some will not. The previously mentioned attributes can be used as a road map for personal growth. If you are weak in one attribute then choose to work on that attribute, select qualities that you feel embrace the attribute selected. Then use them to increase the attribute. When you have completed work on that attribute, and then select another. Over time you will be able to master the entire list; becoming not only a master of asana, but evolving into an understanding of consciousness and more importantly becoming a living vehicle for higher consciousness.

Copyright 2015.  All Rights Reserved.  This article may not be reproduced or copied without permission of the author. 

 

 

 

Yogi Baba Prem

  • Yogi Baba Prem has two books published in India, and has written numerous other books published by Universal Yoga. 

 

  • His articles have appeared in several traditional magazines and a variety of e-magazines.