Virtues and Vices

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Read Dharma Mittra's response:

Dear Marta,

There are all kinds of teachers to fit all kinds of students. Yes, one can be a yoga teacher and eat meat, drink wine, or smoke cigars, but I don't recommend it. It will throw off the health of your body and plant the seeds for future illness. You will not be able to be a clear-minded and truthful teacher and representative of the basic tenants and teachings of yoga as practiced for the past 2,000 years.

When the teacher learns to live by the yamas and niyamas (which will bring liberation from worldly desires and actions in union with the Divine) and gives up the ego, the students of that teacher will also progress. But as I always say to my students, "little by little." Remember that everything happens according to the Divine and natural laws that are written in the ancient scriptures, the Bhagavad Gita and the Yoga Sutras. You may not be able to give up meat or wine or smoking immediately, but it is something a yoga teacher should strive for.

Many people teaching today are not fully trained in the traditional yogic methods of self- discipline. I lived with my Guru for many years as a karma yogi, and my goal was to be just like him, in every thought, movement, and action. Students will be drawn to teachers with the same qualities as themselves. For example, a suspicious teacher will attract suspicious students. In a sense, it's perfect! No matter what, though, it is best to learn to conquer old, negative habits. Once you remove your negative patterns, you will be able to dissolve all obstacles to your daily sadhana (spiritual practice) and receive new hope and joy in a healthy spiritual life.

Sri Dharma Mittra, who has been teaching since 1967, was the first independent yoga teacher in New York City. In 1984, he created the famous Master Yoga Chart of 908 Postures, which has become an invaluable teaching tool. Dharma is the creator of more than 300 postures and is the author of the book asanas: 608 Yoga Poses. He is also the inspiration for the Yoga Journal coffee-table book Yoga. His Maha Sadhana DVD set (A Shortcut to Immortality, for Level I, and Stairway to Bliss, for Level II), has been widely acclaimed as preservations of the main teachings of yoga. Dharma Mittra: A Friend to All, is a biography documenting experiences of his students from the 1960s on. Dharma Mittra: Yoga Life of a Yogi teacher trainings (200- and 500-hour) are held in New York, San Francisco, Japan, and at workshops worldwide. For more information, visit www.dharmayogacenter.com.