There are relationships that can help us to grow and ones that encourage us to maintain the status quo. There are relationships that hold us back and there are the ones that drag us down. What category does your yoga teacher fall into?
In order to grow, we look at who we are and how we work. We see that some things are serving us and some may need to change. It would be nice if a process of transformation and change could go down smooth and easy, but there’s almost always some resistance. It can be difficult. This is why yoga is best done with guidance and in relationship with a teacher. Support along the way is really helpful.
When we come to someone asking for help with such important work, our expectations may exceed the role.
Here are 5 things to expect and NOT expect from a yoga teacher:
- A yoga teacher isn’t there to give you what you want.
If you have the attitude that your yoga teacher is there to please you or to ‘give you what you want’ you’ll miss out. If you are looking for a teacher who will uphold the old customer service motto that ‘the customer is always right,’ and you want it at a discount, go to Ross dress for less and get yourself a yoga mat and a dvd at 50% off retail price and call it a day. Sure you can learn something from a dvd, but know, that’s not actually a teacher. A teacher knows you, holds space for you to look at your patterns and then sticks around when the shit gets stirred up. There’s potential for some powerful work to be done, but it isn’t always easy.
- Your yoga teacher isn’t your friend.
Friendly? Yes. Cares about you? Of course. Knows you well? Check. But in order for the space to be held and the work to be done, there is a role and a boundary that needs to be clear and respect for this particular kind of therapeutic relationship is part of what makes healing and growth possible.
There will be times when your yoga practice brings something to light that is difficult. There will be times that a practice or even the relationship with your teacher touches a spot that is sore and it’s important to be clear about what’s going on there. You have a reaction and get angry? Fine. But remember this is about learning, growth and holding space. Use that reaction as a starting place to better understand yourself. Reflect.
3. Your yoga teacher isn’t there to fix you.
There isn’t one yoga pose that will fix your back. One private session isn’t going to provide any magic cure. Over time, you make adjustments and come into balance and that work goes beyond the yoga poses. It’s not the job of the teacher to fix you, make it easy for you, or make it all go away. Sometimes they are there so you can stay with it and go right through the middle of whatever it is. They can help you to see how it can be on the other side.
4. A yoga teacher is an outside reference.
We can’t always feel how our body-structure is moving in space. A trained teacher can guide us towards self-awareness and balance. Sometimes the internal structures that we’ve built for ourselves are so familiar we can’t see how they operate in our lives. And they may not be serving us. A teacher can hold up the mirror so we can see these structures more clearly and remodel where needed.
Inherent in the teacher-student relationship is this idea of an outside reference. You come to a class or request an individual session in hopes that the teacher can teach you something that you aren’t yet able to do for yourself. You enter into a relationship so you can progress. Trusting that your teacher can help you get there is important.
5.You aren’t expected to blindly follow a yoga teacher’s instructions
You attend a group class and you receive an instruction that will reinjure your bum shoulder. Don’t do it. Your teacher asks you to try something in your home practice that you aren’t sure about. Discuss it. Ask questions. Or try it for a little while and observe what happens. Be engaged. You aren’t going to your yoga teacher to blindly follow his or her edicts. You are going so that you can better connect to your inner self.
Ultimately, our yoga teacher and practice is bringing us to our inner guide. When you have a good connection with your teacher, you are heard and understood, have faith that what they say will work for you, and you are willing to connect and engage, amazing things can happen. You can start to see yourself. You can start to see your Self. Your yoga teacher plays an invaluable part in the process along the path to self-empowerment, but it is up to you to do the work.