Prayer for Yoga Teachers

Via Philip Urso
on Feb 8, 2011
get elephant's newsletter

Prayer yoga teacher

How the Connected Teacher Connects


Ashtangis have an invocation. (“Vande Gurunam Charanaravinde…”) Anusara teachers have a prayer. (“Om Namah Shivaya Gurave…”) Over the years I have developed my own yoga prayer based on my experience as a teacher and my work with A Course in Miracles.  I am sharing it in the hope that it will give other teachers ideas about tapping into their own inspiration for teaching.  In a recent article I listed  7 Yoga Teacher Disconnects.   But the truth is, the passion of the teacher trumps all training and technique.

Many teachers could admit that “not looking bad” is more important to them than their students’ transformation. One way a teacher can tap into their true passion is to remember “the” class — that one class that left them transformed and inspired them to become a teacher — and let the desire to share that experience be their highest priority.  Then the teacher is no longer concerned with whether they look good, weird, or foolish.  This is a good beginning step.  It frees them to teach from love.

The next step is a personal prayer to help invoke divine inspiration.  I offer this prayer as one example.

A Prayer for Yoga Teachers

There are four steps to this prayer, which is designed to clear away the blocks we have made against our divinity, to re-set what we really want, and to free our highest teaching.

STEP 1:  Remove everything we think we know.

The prayer begins like this:

I do not know the thing I am, where I am,

or how to look upon myself or upon the world.

This admission begins to clear away the distorted story of “me” that the ego mind asserts as it tries to personalize the world.  This clearing allows new possibility and real listening.

STEP 2: Name the specific things, people, and relationships that we have valued more than our relationship to Divine.

I have valued these things, people, circumstances, and statuses,

more than my relationship to You.

In this step, we list the things we really want, and the things we have been secretly praying for, including relationships, jobs, and other situations we have loaded with meaning.  We might also list our desire to be a “great” or inspiring teacher.

STEP 3:  We lay these things down.

I tried to make these my god.

I thought these could bring me true safety and love.

I was mistaken.

I would place nothing between us.

Once we declare what we really want, there is nothing left to block our connection to Divinity.  Finally,

STEP 4: Wait for inspiration in the quiet.

I wait for inspiration in quiet.

I know that I need do nothing myself.

I am free of rehearsing and rehashing my life.

If there are words to say, I will speak.

If there is action to take, I will act.

What higher calling could there be than to lay down your “self” and instead be your Self?

Through this intimate process, you may experience what A Course in Miracles calls “The Song of Heaven.”  This song contains the answers to all the things you had valued more than the divine.  But they are contained in the echoes and harmonics of the Song.  They are incidental to the Song itself. They are not the point of the prayer.

If you make them the point of the prayer, you will be praying for even more obstacles against God.  This would be an odd prayer indeed:  “Dear God, please make the barrier between us bigger and stronger.”   You will miss the point, which is directly connecting to your true self and creator.

Now, connected to the whole, do you, as a teacher, need protection from your “me” mind?  You now stand undefended before your class.  Without the defense of the “me” mind there is nothing blocking your connection to yourself, your creator, and your students.  It is possible for your highest teaching to come through you.  In this moment, you are free of all faults and all the mistakes in your life.  They are past; they are nowhere.

Your life may look the same to others, but it will feel different. Using this prayer, you will rest, alert in a deep, deep peace. Even your passion will arise from a deeply relaxed state.

Here is the full prayer again:

I do not know the thing I am, where I am,

or how to look upon myself or upon the world.

I have valued these things, people, circumstances, and statuses,

more than my relationship to You.  (List them.)

I lay these down.  I tried to make these my god.

I thought these could bring me true safety and love.  I was mistaken.

I would place nothing between us.

I wait for inspiration in quiet.

I know that I need do nothing myself.

I am free of rehearsing and rehashing my life.

If there are words to say, I will speak.

If there is action to take, I will act.


About Philip Urso

Yoga Teacher Philip Urso loves to train yoga teachers how to teach exhilarating and unscripted vinyasa yoga classes. He co-founded Live Love Teach Yoga Teacher Training School with fellow yoga teachers Deborah Williamson and Stacy Dockins. His two 5-star podcasts on iTunes — A Crash Course in Miracles and Yoga Classes, Live Love Teach — have over two million downloads. Philip studies the dynamics of love and fear and teaches practical, reliable and lasting methods for choosing between the two. His Elephant Journal column explores these very themes. More info at


22 Responses to “Prayer for Yoga Teachers”

  1. Juliet says:

    Thank you for sharing. I love this. May I borrow it for my own teaching, or pieces of it, to share with my students? I like that it is not specific to any God or teaching and that it allows taking responsibility for oneself on the path to healing or spirituality, that it is not structured as a 12 step program but that it maintains some elements of it in its context.


  2. Shelley says:

    I would love to share this with my students. Thank you so much for writing this.

  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Bethany, Dancing Dogs Yoga. Dancing Dogs Yoga said: Yoga Prayer– had to share […]

  4. yogiclarebear says:

    Oh Philip, my heart is soaring. I'm taking this and running…I mean praying! And will allow my Self to fit it to my, well, Self.

  5. YesuDas says:

    This is beautiful, Philip; thanks for this.

  6. Well done, Phil.

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and to Twitter right now.

    Bob W. Yoga Editor

  7. matthew says:

    Phil, I know it's what the Course says, but I never understood what it would feel like to value the Divine more than people.

  8. kathik says:

    been thinking about this a lot lately (getting 'empty' before class). please stop reading my mind : )
    thanks again, Philip

  9. Hi, Matthew.

    I can't speak for the Course in Miracles, but in the Bhagavad Gita, at least, as I'm sure you're aware, the answer your question is clear. The "divine" is defined to encompass all people and love itself, even value itself, so there is no choice to be made between anything and the divine.

    The crux of the Gita is the realization that everything is divine. (Since I'm an ultra-rationalist myself, I prefer the concept and term "infinitely wondrous" rather than "divine". But it's the same thing in the Gita. People just look at it differently depending on whether they prefer to anthropomorphize their Gods, which I personally do not.)

    Bob W. Yoga Editor
    (Join Elephant Yoga on Facebook)

  10. matthew says:

    I just don't understand the purpose of the word Divine.

    How does the phrase "everything is divine" add more or better information to my mind and heart than "everything exists"?

    The problem is that the adjective becomes definitive.

  11. I agree with you personally. That's why you'll rarely see me use the word divine in my writing.

    My whole mission is to try to describe Yoga philosophy in plain English. "Divine" doesn't qualify as plain English.

    Nonetheless, I don't shrink from it either, because one can't ignore a term that is so widely used and loved by millions of people I want to communicate with.

    So when it comes up, as here, I'm just very careful to define it back to my understanding in plain English.

    Bob W. Yoga Editor
    (Join Elephant Yoga on Facebook)

  12. As for your second question. BIG difference it seems to me between saying

    "everything exists"

    and saying:

    "everything is infinitely wondrous"

    don't you, really?

  13. matthew says:

    It's true — we can't erase the language — but massage it, mold it, sometimes smack it around a bit.

    I like "infinitely wondrous" until the point it becomes a brand. "Divine" has been a brand for a long time.

  14. Right, when it becomes a brand, then it fails to communicate as plain English anymore, and you have to come up with another term that does.

    What's interesting is, that of the two statements above, "everything is infinitely wondrous" is far more likely to be commonly understood and agreed on than your "everything exists", which is full of definitional hang-ups.

    What I've found, pleasantly so, is that "infinitely wondrous" is the one concept that easily bridges almost all spiritual and religious boundaries. God is always "infinitely wondrous" certainly. But even most atheists will agree that the universe is "infinitely wondrous."

    I think it's a very meaningful common ground. The Gita has been kind enough to agree with me on this.

    Bob W. Yoga Editor
    (Join Elephant Yoga on Facebook)

  15. matthew says:

    I like meaningful common ground. But it's more of a river to me: never looks the same twice.

    To claify I wasn't comparing "everything is infinitely wondrous" to "everything exists".

    I was comparing "everything is divine" to "everything exists": both of these appeal to universality, but only the latter really makes it there.

    The Gita certainly does agree with your ex-Catholic innards, Bob, but not so much with your ultra-rationalism!

  16. We need to talk! Now you're leaping to the conclusion that you understand both what the Gita and "ultra-rational" mean to me.

    I love the Gita because its spirituality is, at its core, ultra-rational, in the same way that Einstein's soaring spirituality is ultra-rational. In fact, whadya' know, it's exactly the same spirituality.

    But apart from that, what on earth does "everything exists" mean? And if it means anything, of what value is it? Seems like a strange phrase to hang one's hat on. Or is it just a meaningless concept you were pulling out to show the dis-utility of word divine?

  17. matthew says:

    What does the statement "Everything is divine" add to human knowledge or empathy? It seems to be a reductionary value judgement, masquerading as a consolation. Just like "everything is one", or "everything is love". The problem is, these phrases squeeze out and invalidate people's very real experiences of "everything is two", or "many things are crap", or "I'm in lot of pain."

  18. matthew says:

    But I started this thread by just asking: why does the Course value an abstract principle like the "Divine" more than "people"? Because it does: It's right there in black and white. Just as Krishna values his transcendental signifiers over the bodies of the Kauravas. Often I feel that our spiritual language can be unneccessarily obscure, and contain veiled threats and a subtle violence against the chaos of the heart, and I like picking it apart.

    But now I'm done. The sun is setting on this sunday. And I have to finish my post on yoga as performance art!

  19. I'm done, too. I can see we're going to have many equally interesting exchanges in the future. At least I hope you found this as enjoyable as I did. I like sharp talkers, because then I feel I can safely talk back sharply.

    Here's what I find most interesting, although it's just pure gut feel, since I don't really know you yet. I sense that we have started from a similar base of assumptions and predilections, and yet have come to very different conclusions about how to see Yoga philosophy. I'm guessing they'll be reconciled eventually as we get to know each other better. But it's just a guess.

    I'll read yoga 2.0 and you read and Gita in a Nutshell, and then we'll talk.



  20. It?s actually a cool and helpful piece of info. I am glad that you shared this helpful information with us. Please stay us informed like this. Thank you for sharing.

  21. […] for yoga teachers but it would work for anyone. Read this 4-part prayer here, and read it from it’s source here: 1. I do not know the thing I am, where I am, or how to look upon myself or the […]