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Welcoming in the New -- Teachers that Is

This week began a new teaching schedule for me with a new day, new time, and new "mellower" take on my style.

As students trickled in to my first Monday night class, I was thrilled to see some familiar faces, but I was equally happy to have some students who were new to me. I always feel like having a new student is a bit of a gift. They have taken a leap of faith to go to a teacher and class that is unknown to them. I hope to repay that gift by giving them a great yoga experience.

Sometimes I notice with seasoned practicioners that they are more hesitant to try out someone new. They have their teacher -- who they adore -- and really don't want to bother with anyone else. That always seems a little sad to me (although I have to say I have fallen into this trap myself from time to time). Shouldn't we as yogis be open to new possibilities, new avenues of learning and new teachers?

I challenge you in the new year to try out some new teachers and new styles. Take a chance on a class that you have been meaning to try for ages. Or go to a class randomly without even knowing what style or teacher you will be experiencing.

You never know -- you may just learn something completely, magically new.


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I agree with you that seasoned practitioners should be more open to varied experiences. Whenever I visit a new city or return home to Los Angeles, I just find a yoga class -- any style, any teacher, any studio -- and show up with an open heart/mind. I actually like the anonymity of being in a new environment because then I'm not distracted by all the social aspects of my regular classes.

I find that I learn more about myself and my body by experiencing different teachers' styles. And as a teacher myself, I think experiencing new sequences & techniques and hearing all the different ways movements and actions are verbalized by other teachers can only give me more tools in my toolkit as I try to share the gift of yoga with others... Thanks!

Good advice!

Like most advice, it's very situational, though. Perhaps most people get stuck in a rut and would benefit from a new Yoga experience.

But I see an occasional Yoga devotee who has the opposite problem. He or she explores one style of Yoga after another, looking for the buzz of newness, without really fully experiencing any of them!

Bob Weisenberg

I'm still new to yoga (practicing 6 months) and I've had the same teacher for most of the classes but I enjoy mixing it up by taking classes with a different teacher once in a while. Their styles may be a little different but it's all good.

I agree that new students are gifts for a teacher and that it is always a leap of faith to go to your first yoga class (or to a new yoga experience). As a teacher, I learn continuously from both brand new and continuing students. That is their gift to me. My gift to them is to be totally present with them and to offer what they need in the moment, rather than any particular formula I have learned or might be attached to.

It is true that there is a tendency for yoga students to become attached to one teacher and to cling to that teacher from neediness or fear of change or challenge. However, that is not always the case when we see a seasoned yoga practitioner staying with one teacher for a long time.

Here's a different perspective on the idea that seasoned practitioners are more reluctant or hesitant to try out someone new because they already have a teacher whom they adore and don't want to bother with anyone else. It seems very natural and appropriate to me for yoga students, especially when they are relatively new to the practice, to explore numerous teachers for however long they resonate with doing that. Some people settle on a lifelong teacher early on, but most don't seem to do that. Some continue seeking the "right" teacher for them for a long time. It doesn't matter. Both paths are individual choices and should not be judged by others. I am reminded of the aphorism, "When the student is ready, the teacher [master] will appear."

When such a teacher appears, seeking stops, at least temporarily, until the student deems that he/she has learned everything the teacher has to offer. If we observe someone moving along that part of the path and make the assumption that it is because of adoration for or attachment to the teacher, we may or may not be accurately reading the situation. When one finds the teacher who can take him or her to the next level of Being Yoga, there is no reason to go on searching and no point in doing so.

The condition of having found one's longtime or lifetime teacher describes the state eventually arrived at by all of the yoga teachers I most admire. Rather than going wide, they have arrived at a place that offers the vibrant opportunity to dive deep into one particular way or path (you could substitute "style" for "path," although that is not always an accurate description either) of practicing yoga.

There is some truth to the saying " he's a jack of all trades and master of none." Rather than being minimally experienced at many ways of practicing yoga, you can become a master of one only by going deep. Here's how my meditation teacher Shri Anandi Ma explains the value of meditating at the same time and in the same place (especially the same place) as often as possible, ideally every day. Meditating in an irregular manner is like trying to find water by digging a shallow hole in one place one day, another shallow hole in another spot the next day, and so on. It is a fruitless effort. By digging in the same place a little more deeply each day, we eventually reach the underground water and have a producing water well. In meditation practice, a supportive energetic field gathers in the meditation space when it is visited day after day. This is how to dig deeper. After awhile the energy invites you to sit and meditate; the arduousness of the practice dissolves, and peace emerges spontaneously.

I've experienced both aspects of this search, attending classes, workshops, intensives, weeks-long trainings, and years-long trainings with many teachers, nationally and internationally known as well as local teachers, in the fields of yoga and the healing arts. I now study with only one healing arts teacher, who lives out of state, and one primary yoga teacher, who lives in New Zealand. The other master teachers I continue to study with comprise a very short list of only those who offer the richest yoga experiences that are most resonant with me where I am now, after 35 years of yoga practice. I can count them on less than one hand.

So, yes, it is important to always be open as yogis to new possibilities and new avenues of learning. Any new teachers you will benefit from being with, once you have gone deep, will still naturally appear as you are ready or if you need any other teacher. You no longer need to go out seeking them. They will come to you. If they don't come to you, either you are not ready or you do not need anyone else. Observing others and lumping them all in the same category based on my assumptions about why they always go to the same yoga class or teacher serves no one.

Is 60 too old to think about becoming a yoga instructor, if not where does one start to choose a school. I live in TN. I want to know yoga more I have tapes/dvd's to actually participate in, but nowhere to actually take a class, so I thought well why not become the instructor and then I know I would do it on a regular basis and give something to others my age to do...

You are definitely not too old to consider becoming a yoga teacher, Janet. Yoga Journal has print and online directories of yoga teacher training schools. The print directory is currently on newsstands. That's where I would start. YogaFinder also has a searchable list of teacher training schools. Since you don't have a local yoga class to attend, your becoming a teacher sounds like a great service to offer in your community, your age and younger too.

My yoga instructor just came to class with such a pretty yoga bag from, who knew, I would get fashion tips from my instructor as well as a great yoga class!

Weeeell, it's nice you can be so welcoming of us new teachers... but isn't there a part of you that resents us rookies, too? Check out THIS reaction to the increasingly crowded yoga teacher scene:
Also, does anyone find their choice of teacher training influenced by how much money they might make? I personally am considering doinmg a bikram training, partly because it is the trend. Can anyone who has taught more than one type of yoga say what types bring in the most?

For those interested in exploring even more deeply, there are also yoga teacher training courses offered a couple times per year.

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