How Yogic Is Your Yoga Teacher? ~ Sue Fuller

Via elephant journal
on Jul 3, 2012
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As yoga continues to grow in popularity, the demand for yoga teachers increases—which makes me wonder whether all of today’s yoga teachers are teaching for the greater good of the student.

Or, are some viewing teaching as an easy way to make money or using class as their own personal stage?

On my twenty-year yogic journey, I have experienced some amazing teachers that have been inspirational, life changing and totally selfless—and others who unfortunately did not appear to share the same altruistic motivations. So, to help you determine how “yogic” your teacher is, I have put this fun quiz together.

The Three Gunas

Before we go any further, I would like to introduce the three natural qualities (gunas) that are present in everything and are forever changing.

In Vedanta (the philosophy of  the yoga), it has been recognized that for any form of evolution or change to occur, there must be a predominant guna. The balance of the gunas changes constantly depending upon current company and circumstance; they are also governed by how comfortable we feel at any given time.

There are the slow-moving and rather lazy—tamas, the highly energized, theatrical and often ego-driven—rajas, and the well-balanced and pure satva. As a group they are known as the three gunas.

It is important to remind ourselves that everyone needs to possess qualities from each guna.

In this quiz, there is no wrong and no right, so please don’t take it too seriously.

You have selected your teacher for a reason. Hopefully you have developed a sense of connection to your teacher, and feel that they are able to guide you safely and effectively through a yoga practice that is suitable and relevant for your current needs and requirements.

Answer the following by selecting A, B or C and then check to find out how your teacher did.

 1. Your teacher arrives to class finishing off a snack.  What is she/he snacking on?

A) A large chocolate chip cookie and a takeout coffee because it happens to be close at hand.

B) An energy bar and a fizzy drink.

C) A fresh fruit salad and mineral water.

 2. Your teacher is always…

A) Just on time for class and leaves you in Savasana while they continue to finish preparations for the class.

B) In the studio performing their most advanced postures whilst their students arrive.

C) Arrives early prepares the class and environment and sits quietly so that they are able to meet and great all students.

 3. Your teacher……

A) Does not help or advise those who are performing postures incorrectly.

B) Does not adjust their students because they are absorbed in performing their postures at the front of the class.

C) Assists all students and pitches the class to accommodate the students that have attended.

 4. Someone new to class has an injury, how does your teacher accommodate them?

A)  Lets the student struggle through the class and do what they can.

B)  Assume that they are the expert and that by following their advice they can heal this person.

C) Are they sensitive to their needs and requirements and offer alternatives and props to assist this person and recommend that they seek further advice if they are unsure.

5. What does your teacher wear to class?

A) A pair of un-ironed baggy track pants and an old t-shirt.

B) Whatever it is, it is always showy and accessorised to the max.

C) Clean comfortable, practical yogic clothing which is unintimidating to beginners yet suitable and relevant so that postures can be clearly demonstrated.

6. Your teacher…

A) Very rarely chats to students after class and is always very quick to leave the studio.

B) Always socializes with the same group of students before and after the class, which creates an uncomfortable environment for new class members.

C) Ensures that all students feel comfortable and welcome.

How did your teacher do?

Mostly A’s:  Tamas is their prominent in guna;(new sentence) this type of teacher might not be overly committed to the sharing and teaching yoga.

Mostly B’s:  Rajas is their prominent guna. A rajasic teacher is very theatrical and a natural performer. This type of teacher can be very good at presentation and delivery, but they may be prone to treating a class as their own personal showcase.

Mostly C’s:  Satva is your teachers prominent guna. A satvic teacher will share yoga in a selfless manner for the greater good of  all their students.


Sue Fuller is a leading yoga teacher and writer. She is the creator of the “Yoga 2 Hear” audio classes and is the resident yoga expert for Natural Health Magazine UK. To find out more about “Yoga 2 Hear,” visit . Sue is also the founder of, an online store that retails audio classes by leading teachers from around the globe in yoga, meditation, pilates, relaxation, sound healing, vocal training, music and more.


Editor:  April Dawn Ricchuito

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15 Responses to “How Yogic Is Your Yoga Teacher? ~ Sue Fuller”

  1. cathywaveyoga says:

    Fun to read, fun and very worthwhile to consider.

    I ask the author or editor to rethink the summary sentence about mostly A's.. instead of "might not be overly committed to.. it probalbly should be.." might not be adequately…." or " might not be a yogic lifestyle teacher"..

  2. Mamaste says:

    Just intro'd on FB to: Yoga & I'm Not Spiritual.
    Fun quiz.

  3. Jeenal says:

    You could also add if he/she has a vegetarian diet. No fishes, no eggs, no chicken, no meat for real yoga teachers. And yes also no beer…no alcohol!

  4. Jeenal says:

    A & B cannot be called as Yoga Teacher at all!

  5. jenifermparker says:


    You know the real problem with this quiz, honestly — you can't really tell at a glance and you can't really tell by any of these elements. On any given day, you may find me in any combination of these traits. Well, except dress. I like to dress a certain way and I don't even own track pants or baggy shirts. Still. All the others might apply — and I don't see any of them as perceptibly "unyogic."

    I suggest that the first thing a person does is this — don't worry about who is and isn't "real" and attach that to the term Yoga.

    If you don't find your teacher appropriately dressed, dieted, or behaved — don't take their classes. Don't worry about whether or not it's "yoga" — worry about whether or not your yoga practice is working for you.

    If your practice isn't working for you, find a teacher whom you think is dressed, dieted and behaved properly, and study and practice with them. If your practice improves and you see the benefits of yoga, then great *you* can now determine whether or not *you* are "real."

    And here's my basic take: Yoga works. People who practice asana over time will experience the benefits of yoga. How it manifests in their lives and when is *their business* — this goes for teachers and students. The teacher in front of you may have spent her life dressed in the plainest garb to punish herself from the sexual abuse that she experienced as a child. Now, feeling liberated from that pain, wears fancy clothing in vibrant colors and lots of jewelry as an expression of her new-found freedom and self love — not because she is somehow "not yogic" or "less yogic" than someone who chooses a more simple form of dress as a matter of taste, or even someone who prefers a sportier form of dress as a matter of taste.

    We simply cannot assume that *any* of these things makes a person "real" or not or "yogic" or not.

    And in fact, it's really not our place to assume any of it anyway. All we need to do is trust the process. Everyone out there doing yoga is on a journey. So am I. So are you, if you practice. And that's really all there is to it.

    (Also, vegetarianism isn't required to teach yoga and never has been, as there are currently many sikh and hindu yoga teachers from india and nepal who eat meat and have for generations. It's really the most ridiculous claim.)

  6. jenifermparker says:

    Unless of course, the whole piece is in jest. In which case, comedians need to understand tone, and this tone comes off judge-y, not funny.

  7. Jade Doherty says:

    I don't think the quiz is particularly yogic, it sounds more like it's about being a good teacher, whatever you teach.

    I'm an English teacher in Spain and all of the things you mentioned are a massive part of my job. Granted my students don't care if I drink fizzy drinks, but the rest definitely apply.

    Being early, correcting mistakes, chatting to everyone to make them feel involved, remembering each student's particular difficulties with English and so on.

    I think we have a habit of yoga-fying everything, maybe someone just isn't a good teacher.

    That, or my company should pay me more 'cos I'm actually teaching yoga AND English.

  8. […] How Yogic Is Your Yoga Teacher? ~ Sue Fuller […]

  9. yogasamurai says:

    Sorry, how about "might not be suited to a teaching profession."

    In a properly accredited yoga teaching profession, with mandatory review, teachers would be evaluated and some who didn't measure up would lose their licenses to teach.

    Simple as that. Too much freelancing and lack of accountability right now.

  10. cathywaveyoga says:

    good change..
    wel, yes, that accredited yoga profession.. I agree.
    Iam not taking on that fight.
    I have taugh tin public education over 28 yrears, gone to grad school 4 yrs and taken countless additional professional development( required) ongoing..
    I have a BS in PE, Health.. my course work included a full year of cadave rlab anatomy.
    My yoga teachers have 299 hours, if that.

  11. Vision_Quest2 says:

    Curiously, a teacher type I have known are mostly B's and C's, but the C's were a put-on.

    You hang around them long enough, they fall in love with what's in your wallet.

    That's okay, most of them are not teaching directly to students anymore; a few became life coaches on the side.

    If the economy were better and yoga were not so (currently) popular, they would be teaching Hi-Lo aerobics over at Equinox or Exhale. They are not Yoga teachers, imho …. they can teach "yoga" with a small "y", may have been born 20 years too late to teach what they are really suited for … but, still, they can really teach their little hearts out …

    This too shall pass … that's when the bad apples become the applesauce they were meant to be …

  12. Dee says:

    First of all, Vedanta is not the philosophy of the yoga. Yoga is the philosophy of the yoga. Vedanta is one of the 6 darshanas or world-views/philosophies of orthodox Hinduism. Yoga, is another. With its own philosophy and it’s own text: the yoga sutras of patanjali. The theory of the three gunas or constituents of nature belongs to the samkhya philosophy, another of the darshanas, which, classical yoga follows. In fact, the methodology and philosophy of Vedanta can be said to be the complete opposite to that of yoga. Maybe you should get your facts straight before attempting to make your point. There are enough misconceptions with the subject as it is.

  13. travelling yogi says:

    It appears that this is just a fun piece, I like it 😉 I also studied with the Sivanada Organisation and they include Vedanta as their philosophy that supports their Hatha yoga and we did indeed study the Gunas and also Bhagavad Gita (which also details the gunas) it was all part of our yoga philosophy with the Sivananda Organisation. It's a short piece using the concept of the gunas and applying them to a diiferent experience. i like it, plus the writer does say "don't take it too seriously – there is no wrong or right" or words to that effect.

  14. travelling yogi says:

    just like to add that I double checked my Sivananda teachers manual – yes indeed the philosophy was Vedanta and also the three gunas are clearly described for the aspirant and also the teacher. The Bhagavad Gita also talks of the Gunas, so it appears that although the gunas might have their initial roots somewhere else there are also areas where they crossover and appear in other later publications of different teachings including Vedantic philosophy.