Student teacher relationship

Picture of Yoga Mandir
Yoga Mandir

In Iyengar yoga we shape our bodies with the outward form of each asana but the practice of asana also requires that we observe our relationship to what we are doing – the quality of our actions. Once the form of each asana is learnt and becomes familiar, what becomes more apparent to the practitioner is the changing nature of concentration, moods and energy levels. How many times, for example, have you gone to practice only to find yourself mentally resistant or unable to concentrate – unwilling in fact. A student will often postpone their practice until their interest levels are higher but in terms of the relationship to the practice, this unwillingness needs to be questioned. Coming to understand this question is really about coming to understand yourself.

Practice should involve the deeper question of who am I, and what drives me, if it is not to become a physical exercise used only to make you feel good. This could be likened to merely looking for pleasant sensation or comfort.

Just as erratic practice can become an avoidance of the difficult issues within one’s practice, changing teachers can entail the same. By the nature of their own practice, the teacher is intimately involved with their own process and development and yet a student may only wish to hear the instructions of how to do each asana- its points. The knowledge the student seeks is assumed to be contained in the verbal instructions (points) used to describe each asana and so the student tries to gather these points. Psychologically, however, they are training themselves to gather information as though “truth” were a static thing. Discovery is seeing the interconnectedness of things – the linking or relationship. For example – the way focus and attention affect the experience of the asana, or the way the breath interacts with sensation. Without learning to be in your own process, points in asana practice are of no use. You cannot look outward to understand the internal environment and so the use of points should reflect the linking of attention to experience. A teacher uses points as a way of expressing, in words, their own experience of this interconnectedness.

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