10 Steps for Becoming a Power-Hungry, Controlling Yoga Guru.

Via Doron Hanoch
on Mar 17, 2015
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public domain

The yoga guru phenomenon is not new.

People love a leader, a powerful person with a clear message. They want someone they can follow and a group they can belong to. It helps them have an identity. To a certain degree this is fine, as long as they don’t become dependent on the leader. But too often, the teacher, or guru, becomes a controlling entity instead of a source of support.

As a teacher there are often times when I have the opportunity to step up to the power level—the guru level—not in its true meaning of the one who shows the light, but in the controlling way that students follow blindly. There is a fine line I have to make sure I never cross. It takes constant awareness and being present to avoid falling to the temptation of the ego.

Richard Freeman, one of my teachers, says that when students place you on a pedestal you need to cut the pedestal from beneath you.

But if you don’t agree, if your goal as a teacher is power and control, then you’ll need to follow some specific steps to reaching your ego’s desire.

Here’s how to do it:


10 Steps for Becoming a Successful and Controlling Yoga Guru

1. Tell students that your method is the only true method.

2. Create a myth around your method.

3. Tell students they must follow it exactly as is, or else…

4. Tell students that they are not allowed to study with anyone else.

5. Create a system of progression and hierarchy.

6. Instill desire, and make sure you are the only one that can fulfill this desire.

7. Give special, hard-to-achieve rewards and status to only a few.

8. Keep those rewarded connected to you by assuring they must study and pay to maintain their status.

9. Look like a guru:  Distinguish yourself with specific clothes, robes, hair, a beard or tattoos.

10. Do not get too close to your students. Keep distance.


I admit that I’ve made the list from real life examples I have encountered. I also admit that most of these have turned me off from choosing those gurus to light my way. (Do you know who I’m talking about?)

Some of the examples on the list may actually benefit the student by encouraging them to keep studying, though only if used wisely and without following the entire list as a complete set of actions.

For example, “Create a system of progression and hierarchy.” This may be a good way to help the student keep practicing, but the student should understand that with real freedom, labels are just temporary. In a way, progression labeling is creating greed in the form of strong desire to reach the next step. Ideally the next step is a healthier place, but the method of getting there may not be so healthy.

Can you inspire your students to learn without creating an attachment? Can you empower your students and allow them to remain free or actually discover true freedom?

What do you do as a teacher to ensure that you don’t cross the line into abusing your power? Please share with us your best practices for inspiring and teaching your students while staying humble.

What do you avoid or like as a student? Please share with us your ideal teacher’s behaviors, actions and systems (maybe without naming names).



Author: Doron Hanoch

Editor: Emily Bartran

Photo: Public Domain


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About Doron Hanoch

Doron Hanoch was introduced to yoga and meditation in 1992 while traveling and studying in the Far East for two years. He is an artist, a trained chef, a certified nutrition consultant and a yoga instructor. Doron plays in yoga and explores the mind and all the shades it tends to add to reality. He believes that tradition is a great source of knowledge, but that we should be careful of rigid dogmas. He is an avid thinker, dancer, laugher, meditator, and green smoothie drinker. He dances for no reason and eats healthy without being fanatic.
He loves to write and share his discoveries and is the author of “The Flexitarian Method: Practical Tools for Total Health and Happiness.”

Visit Doron on Facebook, on his website and on YouTube. He loves to share free tips, recipes and articles on how to master yoga.


5 Responses to “10 Steps for Becoming a Power-Hungry, Controlling Yoga Guru.”

  1. Alejandro Convers says:

    Loved this article! Those 10 steps are actually a great guide to keep yourself, your practice and your teachers honest!

  2. hbksloss says:

    Luckily I have not encountered all these traits in yoga teachers I have had the pleasure of knowing in the US and Australia. There has been two teachers though who border on crossing the line with #1 and #3. While I assume that they were well meaning their cooments reflected their lack of understanding that my practice (and my body) is my unique expression of light, energy and love. I never went back to class with one and I gently had to correct the other. Was never sure if she understood me, but that wasn't my problem. Best teachers I have had understood and expressed their gratitude and love in such a way that their classes were inspiring. Hope this makes sense.

    • dhanoch says:

      Indeed, I am happy to hear that you did not have to experience these kind of teachers, and when you did to a certain degree, sounds like you knew how to handle it.. This is a big part of it. It is our responsibility to either walk a way from it, or bring awareness to it, if possible.

  3. Gil Hanoch says:

    Great article! If there is one teacher who read this, and it stopped him from going down this path, you did great for the world. My guess is that there will not be one, but many, with impact on thousands of students out there.

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