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One Teacher, Many Teachers

How do you learn about your yoga practice?

Our yoga world is filled with incredible teachers from around the world. These instructors offer their energy not just as teachers but as influencers, leaders, philanthropists, and business owners. Our naturally categorical brains label some of them teachers, some yogi-lebrities, others gurus.

A student asked me the other day, “who is your teacher?” and I didn’t know what to say. I have many teachers, but currently I don’t have one specific person or one specific lineage that I study solely.

Then the self-doubt set in: “do I need one teacher to be taken seriously as an instructor myself?” And then the over-confidence: “No, I’m so much better off withguruout one teacher, I’m using teachings from across lineages to create something unique.”

There’s not one right answer, but it’s an interesting consideration: Do we really hold more validity by following one teacher? Or can we create something more valuable by taking various teachings and crafting them into something that speaks loudest to us as individual teachers or students?

The case for one teacher.

The traditions we know today as yoga have been passed down for generations over thousands of years. Some of this knowledge has been written down, but many of the subtleties are reserved for intimate teacher-student interactions.

I frequently joke that I love yoga because I could spend three lifetimes learning about the practice and not fully understand it. Spending time with one instructor can allow for a really deep understanding of one of the many lineages of yoga. For this lifetime.

This kind of structure might be really appealing to those yogis who might feel overwhelmed by the many different lineages of yoga. If one style really speaks to you and others don’t speak as loudly, it might be worth really diving into that practice.

The case for many teachers.

It’s hard to choose one person to learn from. What if you like the physicality of Ashtanga yoga, but the energy of Kundalini and the words of your hometown Hatha-trained instructor? What if you want to bring all of this into your practice and in turn into your teachings as well?

Totally great. New styles and brands of yoga have been born from exactly this desire to recreate the traditions into something that feels right to that individual. Just in Boulder, CO, dozens of studios have popped up based on the learnings of CorePower Yoga, each with a unique spin based on the studio owner’s experience.

How do you choose to study with one teacher or many teachers?

  • Try everything. Take as many classes in as many different styles as you can. If you connect with someone so much that you want to spend many, many hours finding out their knowledge, consider sticking with that one teacher.
  • Write down what works and what doesn’t. This will help remember which teachers you connect with and which ones you want to avoid.
  • Remember that people change and grow. If you decide to choose one lineage or teacher for now, know that if later on you don’t connect as much you can always find another.
  • Be aware of the relationship with your teacher(s). Set clear expectations and boundaries with your instructor so there’s never any confusion about the level of intimacy you feel.
  • Know your reality from the reality of your teacher. Their truth is their truth, and it doesn’t necessarily need to be yours as well.

What do you think? Is there more benefit in one teacher or many teachers? What have you chosen for yourself?

This article was originally published on Gaiam TV.

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