As a yoga teacher, I will be the first to admit that I do not know everything. FAR from it. There is always so much more to learn. Considering that, I found it amusing when I told one of my students I would be away for two weeks because I was going to take a yoga course and she was completely dumbfounded over that idea. She asked me what could a yoga teacher possibly learn from another yoga teacher, as if, I couldn't possibly have anything else to learn. Flattering, I suppose, that she thought I knew everything about yoga, but couldn't be farther from the truth. She asked me if the other teacher was more flexible than me? I chuckled, and said, well, Yes, but that is only the tip of the iceberg. She opened her eyes bigger and asked me what I meant and what I would learn while away.
I am going to take a workshop for two weeks in Encinitas with Sharath Rangaswamy Jois, grandson of Sri K Pattabhi Jois, the founder of Ashtanga Yoga as we know it in the west. How could I possibly explain to someone what he could offer to me. I felt like I would never have enough time or words to fully explain what I believe I can learn from Sharath.
As with all yogis, I know that I have endless progress to look forward to on this path of yoga. The simple part to explain is the physical progress. There are always more challenging postures, breathing techniques, better alignment, increased strength and endurance to be gained. And there is always someone more experience to help you find the proper ways to attain those. I believe that I have many years ahead of me where I will still become more flexible, strong, light, balanced and healthy as I continue to practice Ashtanga yoga. Eventually, of course, that progress will halt and my body will slowly (and hopefully gracefully!) move in the opposite direction.
Despite this inevitability, the progress never has to stop. With practice, one can always become more mentally advanced. Wisdom and understanding does not ever need to decline, as the body does. And this is where great teachers come in. To share with us their wisdom, impart to us their knowledge of yoga, anatomy, history, the vedas/sutras, sanskrit, etc. Yoga is both a science and an art, and the theory seems nearly endless. Personally, I can't absorb enough wisdom. I love hearing other teachers speak, interpret, share and inspire. Kino Macgregor is one of my favourites to listen to.
More than the physical and the mental progress though, what I look forward to the most, is the spiritual progress I will continue making. And for this, I most certainly could use guidance. I was never a religious person, and maybe even rolled my eyes at religious ideas for many years. So I am less inclined to talk about this side of yoga, for fear of the same reaction from others. However, spirituality is not the same as religion, and I find it much easier to swallow, as probably most others do as well. I believe that the yoga teachers who yoga teachers go to and look up to, are admired because they are clearly closer to the divine. They are more practiced at understanding the connection of one to all. They are farther down the path of arriving at the ultimate truth. These advanced teachers, or gurus, can inspire, instruct and guide us less experienced teachers and yogis closer towards that as well.
I know I will always need time with great teachers to help me better serve my own self, the universe, and my students, even if they believe I already know everything (haha!). As challenging as I find it to pass on the spiritual element of my practice to my students, perhaps it need not always be spoken. Maybe the spiritual teachings are in part, passed on through the physical and mental work they do with my guidance. Maybe on an energetic level, I am showing them their own divinity as a product of regular yoga practice. I must have faith that if I continue to do all of my own work, practice with wonderful teachers and guide them through what I have learned along the way, that they will get what they need. For myself and for them, all is coming.