So guru purnima is coming up and this is always a time of year when I take a little more time around and through my practice to reflect on my teachers, what they offer me, how I respond to that and how I might carry forward their teachings within my practice — or not (yet).
This past month I seem to have had a lot of one-to-one interactions with formal teachers. My practice involves different strands of exploration: asana, anatomy, philosophy, Sanskrit and I’ve been working quite intensively recently, making the most of opportunities as they have arisen. I think things will be a little less personal and intense for a while now which is welcome — I have so very much to digest from their teaching and time with me. New ideas, new vocabularies and methodologies, new movement patterns in contrast to old habits, new thought patterns also… And all these teachers give me ‘homework’ in various ways, suggestions for ongoing exploration, more or less formally expressed. Some of them will check up on me directly, others will simply assume I’m doing what I need to. They are all wonderfully different personalities with their own styles. Part of the fun and the learning is watching them engaging in their craft, interacting with me, and observing my own responses to their way of being.
I was surprised when one of them said how unusual I was for wanting one-to-one time. It seems that this marks me out as not the average yoga student. I’d assumed this was the way that everyone would want to learn, and that group classes were simply the most convenient and economical format that people settled on because they couldn’t be bothered to arrange anything more bespoke. Isn’t it like this? So much of my education from school age and through university was directly with a teacher, maybe one other student, that this is normal for me. Group classes are the novel concept!
And this week I have a one-to-one with one of my own students. She’s pretty new to yoga, full of uncertainties and unformed questions. But I sense that more than any particular thing, she simply wants some closeness; she wants to be nearer to her teacher. I’m needing to step up into this role, not sure what it might entail. My relationship with my own teachers is a delicate negotiation of boundaries, expectations, mutual responsibilities. Now I must come to learn all this with the boot on the other foot. At such moments where I begin to feel out of my depth I am immensely appreciative of the learning experiences I have to draw upon and those wonderful beings I call my teachers who seem to me the model of surety and stability. All that’s needed now is for me to pass at least a little of that on in turn. It feels a privilege to be in this position. And if I also find it uncomfortable, my teachers have taught me to face that too. There are no excuses, no shrinking away. Now I too am a teacher.