Ashtanga Yoga World Wide Community Blog.

The Teacher / Student relationship by Aris K. Kapetanakis

23 Sep 2013, 08:26 in Ashtanga Yoga
Yoga Manchester

The Lighthouse

Life is an endless sea. We sail either with a specific course or drifting alone trying to find the course during our journey. Sometimes it is dark, foggy and harsh. Other times everything is peaceful, sunny and joyful. Either way, what matters is the journey. In this journey, occasionally, you might lose track of the course, but there are light houses to guide the way.

The teacher/student relationship is considered of extreme importance to guide the student on the proper path and to avoid the harmful consequences of misunderstanding and incorrect practice. This relationship is built on a deep respect for the teacher’s knowledge and the student’s commitment.

To be under the guidance of a teacher is not always an easy thing. The teacher tests the disciples, puts them in the most difficult situations, and creates obstacles for them. All the tests, difficulties, and obstacles are meant to train and expand the consciousness of the student. The teacher helps the student move toward self-realization.

The relationship with the teacher is based on the purest form of unconditional love. There is complete openness with him/her. The disciple should hold nothing back from the teacher. Everything is offered to the teacher so that the teacher can do the work of shaping the student. The disciple comes with full faith and entrusts his whole life to the teacher. The teacher takes that life and chops it and burns what is not necessary, and then carefully carves what remains into something pure.

His/her job is not to hold hands with the disciple and wipe away tears, but to cut into pieces the disciple’s ego and all that stands between the disciple and freedom. The teacher does not allow dependence. If the disciple becomes too dependent on the teacher, the teacher pushes the disciple away, insisting on independence.

A student should not be filled with expectations and preconceived images, but with a burning desire to learn, and with firm determination, then there will be no difficulty. The student’s first concern is getting prepared, organizing his life and thoughts, and then working toward a way of life that simplifies and purifies. The student’s work is to act on the instructions and teachings of the teacher, and at the same time to work toward more and more selflessness and surrender of the ego. It is the ego that is the principle barrier to awareness and clarity.

As the student learns to surrender and move the ego out of the way, and grows more selfless, the ability to learn intuitively from the teacher grows. The student learns in the cave of silence. It is like tuning into the teacher’s frequency or plugging into that stream of knowledge. The student learns this by doing all duties with love, by being non-attached, and by surrendering. He should always be striving to purify and prepare for more and greater knowledge.

The student dedicates himself to the teacher and expects from him to help him find the path that will lead him to the aim of his human existence, which is self-knowledge and inner divinity. It is not a self-abandonment or human adoration, it is the recipe in order to be linked with Him, meet the internal kingdom and the inner divinity – not in some unforeseeable future, but in his particular incarnation.

The teacher is a source of clarity, virtue and love, and affects the one that stands besides him/her. The student is beside the teacher. The excess of values of the teacher goes to the student, so the teacher is essential. It is not the student but the teacher that calls the student beside him/her and since he/she him or herself is a source of values, he/she fills the student with his/her excesses that flows towards the student, like water. From the student’s perspective everything depends on preparation, which includes the development of non-attachment and practice. However, it is of utmost importance for the student to be in full awareness of the fact that a teacher is an ordinary human being, one that sails in the same seas. A common human being that has achieved more efficiently and effectively his or her own awareness to a level that can guide others. Only one who is finely attuned to the inner guide can inspire the awakening of the inner guide in another.

When the student reaches a point that he can see and talk with his teacher internally, he truly realizes what “teacher” means. It is then that he realizes that the teacher is the greatest value that someone may have in life. The teacher is the companion of the soul, in this world and in others to come, and the relationship between the student and the teacher becomes absolute. The student then may become a teacher and pass on their knowledge.

The lighthouse transmits a signal. The vessel receives and should be able to point out his stigma. After all the light house is not the light. It shows the path.

Aris K. Kapetanakis teaches at

As a practitioner of Yoga, what are your perspectives on the teacher-student relationship? As a teacher of Yoga, do you recognise Aris’ perspective? How much is a teacher or a student aware of this learning process? We’d love to hear your thoughts on this post! Please feel free to add your comments or questions below.