I remember an incident where a yoga teacher asked a student to spit out her gum. It was my first yoga workshop with this very senior yoga teacher. A student had been chewing gum while practicing yoga. The teacher stopped the class and told her to remove the gum. I was a little shocked but looking back he probably had his reasons (it’s a distraction for her practice and others, affecting her breath, safety, and health reasons, and more). He was also very strict in certain aspects related to yoga. Now I’m studying with a new teacher who has the same long lineage and honours the traditions of yoga. Both teachers create a container where both the teacher and the student is honoured, respected and creates an environment of discipline and learning for growth and transformation to occur through yoga.
As I teach the Yoga Teacher Training, I’ve been re-looking at this aspect of studentship more.
In yoga, we have a term called Adhikara, which translates to “studentship.” This means “being a student of yoga” – but not just dabbling in it but fully committing to it, being open to learning and studying new things and having a deep desire, honouring and respect for what is being studied.
If you have a desire to learn more about yoga (or anything in life), then you need to show up. Here are some ways to do so:
- Can I keep an open mind? Ask questions, with humility and a desire to know more.
- Can I create discipline within myself? Some simple examples include: keep practicing, arriving on time for class, staying for Savasana. Have a commitment to learn more and grow. And when challenges and discomfort come up, cultivate steadfastness and keep at it – that’s where true transformation occurs.
- Can I hold different perspectives to move further into my self-inquiry? Wholeheartedly use all the aspects you’ve learned to deepen your experience, practice, and knowledge.
- Can you find compassion for yourself? When you get too serious and your brain overrules your heart, find some playfulness. Know that you are not perfect and you can’t skip steps in your growth. So move slowly while tenderly taking care of how you talk to and treat yourself.
If you wish to deepen your practice, maybe take more classes in a style you enjoy, try meditation, or make a commitment that you know you need to do to change. Here’s also a review of the Yoga Etiquette.