March 15, 2016

Don’t Marry your Yoga Teacher.

 Kristin Wall/Flickr

I savasana around with my yoga mat. Dating multiple yoga teachers is a good thing. It makes for a better teacher, a better student—better yoga.

The first three years of my practice, I tattooed myself to a single instructor. I figured that she knew me and understood the limitations of my body. Stretching was hard enough, why mess with the unknown?

This lasted until my resistance to change met with an all-encompassing allergic reaction to the air in that studio. Either I was going to cheat on my yoga girlfriend or I’d be limited to a home-based practice. From then on I’ve had a couple of serious relationships, but never said “I do” to another yoga teacher.

Being a promiscuous yogi, however, has taught me something.

A pose will come across differently to each teacher and student. Our ears will hear the same words and see the same thing, but our brains process individually, following the same line as our taste and smell.

Warrior One can be taught from endless viewpoints. It may be entered from standing, kneeling and moving from one pose to another. I’ve even seen it done hanging suspended from the ceiling. Parasailing into position isn’t something I’d do, but that’s the point.

Monogamy isn’t for yoga.

Polyamorous yoga encourages free thinking, creativity and acceptance that all people are unique. Learning from new teachers offers a student a broader understanding of the yoga experience.

After my yoga marriage, I found an instructor who spoke only to call for a pose, then silently went to each student to gently tuck in wayward body parts. Another continually shared her beliefs and limitations while nudging us to stretch ourselves.

I had a couple of sessions with a teacher who understood structural alignment, shifting perspective by deconstructing poses from the ground up. In a special class for emotionally wounded teens, I learned how yoga can heal hearts as well as bodies.

One yogi hopped around the room like a jack rabbit in colorful pantaloons, while sharing a history lesson. Each of his points intersected with a particular pose. I remember none of what he said, but it was visually entertaining.

I’ve taken classes that included breath integration, intentional release of old patterns, visualization, humor, global and internal perspective, ancient messages, silence, Vinyasa, Restorative, Iyengar and some combo that doesn’t have a name. The instructors were each learned on the aspect that they taught, but also interpretive in their style.

As for my own evolving practice, I’m less inclined to dictate myself into a “perfect” pose, finally accepting that yoga isn’t a competition. It is an artful ever-unfolding, path of physical and spiritual expression.

This means that bonding until death do you part with one yoga teacher will not make your poses richer, but rather duller. Yoga is an expansive term for an ancient practice. A student of yoga embraces change, the kind that can happen with a parade of partners.

Down Dog all over town, you’ll get a well-deserved label of a slutty yogi.


Author: Deb Lecos

Editor: Emily Bartran

Photo: Kristin Wall/Flickr

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