Our instructors, ourselves

Once we have achieved enlightenment, we can transcend the need to like our yoga instructor and can detach ourselves from the need to “click” with our teacher. Nothing any teacher says or does will bother us because we will be so evolved with our practice that we can stay serene in any circumstance. That place most of us have yet if ever to visit, which is why I believe we need to find the right instructor for each of us and to examine why we react different to the teachers we encounter.

I have traveled amongst countless classes in my fourteen-year practice. Some teachers inspired me, and others, well, I just had to dig deeper and avoid staring at the clock. Recently I began to wonder why some teachers resonated with me and made the class fly by, whereas others seemed to drag on. I tried to find one thing all the teachers I liked had in common: some were men, some were women, some were transgender. Some used humor, others did not.

What I found in scanning my list of teachers that have resonated me reflects greatly on my own personality. I prefer female teachers to be strong, direct, and humorous, whereas with male teachers I accepted them when they were more gentle. It struck me how I was looking for my female teachers to role model the behavior I would like to see in myself. It also struck me that I rejected soft-spoken, gentle female teachers because on a subconscious level, I was rejecting qualities typically associated with women. So many years I believed that soft meant weak, and even though I have tried to soften myself, I have room for growth in embracing the quiet strength and power found in the gentlest of women.

One other thing that did resonate strongly with me was that while I preferred teachers who broke with traditions and injected their own wisdom and knowledge into the practice, I appreciated traditional teachers when they seemed genuine to me. Some classes felt too mechanical, as if the teacher simply regurgitated words rather than internalizing them and becoming them. When it appears the teacher is imbibing us with wisdom just because they heard it or read it somewhere, rather than because they explored it for themselves for quite sometime, I sense this, and it disturbs me. It’s scary, of course, breaking with the traditions in such a tradition-bound practice such as yoga, but there are teachers out there who can balance respecting the tradition and expanding the body of knowledge.

I encourage you to explore what teachers you liked and didn’t and to try and to notice any patterns and what that tells you about how you view others, and maybe even how you view yourself.

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