“Yoga is a process to train a student,
not a training to process a teacher.”
This is an extract from a letter written to participants in the next cYs Four Year Practitioner Training Programme, my 14th such course since 1985. I offer it as a reference for some of what I feel is important as a shared brief between the student-teacher and the teacher-trainer:
“Something I do feel the need to emphasise is that this training is neither an eclectic amalgam, nor is it a bolt-on or add-on type course style to add to an existing eclectic portfolio of styles.
It is a deep training in a specific Yoga methodology that requires a commitment to explore through our personal practice rather than as an extra string to your teaching bow.
I feel that this means a core commitment as a student, rather than as a teacher, to a personal practice in this methodology as the experiential reference rather than the teaching room.
Sorry to sound a bit feisty here, however I know that where students are not working with these tools from a personal experiential reference point there is or can be potential confusion as to what process to choose and thus tools to use with when working with others.
Nor is the methodology of viniyoga miniyoga, for example as an add-on for those who can’t do the ‘real’ stuff, in that it is a style that you might use for beginners or for those with bad backs.
It is also a methodology that offers a depth of tools, rather than just a breadth of tools, however the tools also sit a bit like Russian dolls in that one must be opened before the next reveals itself.
Our personal practice is both a natural and social empirical field for exploring our heart of our nature and a reflective and mystical metaphysical cave for exploring the nature of our heart.
These are the two fields where we grapple with the realities of rooting, maintaining and nurturing a perennially evolving, yet life-stage and situation relevant, practice within the fluctuations of life, love and well-being.
Amongst the techniques that can offer a developmental structure (vinyāsa krama) for the content and process of a personal home-based practice Sādhana, or ‘means’ for the student to explore with the teacher the notions of self and non-self, are:
Integrative development through Study and Practice of the following components:
- Adhyayanam (chanting as learning or meditation)
Integrative development through Textual and Oral Study in the following fields:
- Experiential application of the principles in the Yoga Sūtra through guidance in chanting and personal study.
- Experiential application of the principles in the Haṭha Yoga texts emphasised by Krishnamacharya.
- Guidance with linking Indian texts emphasised by Krishnamacharya with Yoga study and practice.
- Guidance with linking Krishnamacharya’s own writings and compositions with Yoga study and practice.
- Experiential study of the core energetic, constitutional, diagnostic and lifestyle principles in Āyurveda.
I feel that unless we have grappled with the issues around cultivating both a consistent and progressively meditative practice focus within the flux and flow we will struggle with offering the appropriate support and skills for others when finding themselves in a similar place.
I will get off my soapbox (again) but hope you can appreciate the spirit and importance of reflecting on and from this viewpoint both in terms of staying a student and secondly digging one deep hole, rather than many small ones, both as a student and a teacher.”
For further reading there are some posts on my blog around this topic from my Yoga Musings Collection: