Noncommital Students | iHanuman


Love, Service, Devotion, Yoga

Noncommital Students

When and how can you get your students to commit to one practice- and should you even try?
Walk down the street and witness the shapes and sizes of pedestrians, the colors and makes of passing cars, and the dazzling array of merchandise in shop windows. Abundance bombards us from every angle.
This smorgasbord of options also seeps into yoga. Ashtanga, Anusara, Bikram, Iyengar, Sivananda - the list goes on.
At a certain point you need to make some important decisions. Just as you determined whether of not you would be a vegetarian, how you would earn a living, or in what neighborhood you'd live, must you also settle on one style of yoga?
Does dabbling in a medley of teachings support your journey to fullness or dilute it? At what point does all this shopping stop making you more savvy and start making you more confused?
The Power of Diversity
Stephanie Snyder, a yoga instructor in San Francisco, finds cross-disciplinary studies beneficial. "Adding as many tools as I can from various styles enables me to be of utmost service to my students," she explains. "This is my primary purpose as a teacher."
World-renowned Ashtanga yoga instructor David Swenson also appreciates fresh perspectives. "It is best for students to pursue whatever approach inspires them to practice, " he says. "One does not have to take a vow of practicing only one method. Just as a musician may wish to learn more than one instrument, follow that which makes the heart sing and brings joy into life."
Confronting Confusion
Such exploration can, however, unearth contradictory information and generate confusion. "confusion is not a bad thing," Swenson persuades. "There is life in the questions." Snyder agrees. "A profound and beautiful gift of this practice of yoga is questioning. I ask students to find out what is true for them. This applies to asana as much as to every other facet of our lives."
Instructor to the Yoga Journal staff Sarana Miller reveals how she resolved conflicting approaches in her own practice. "I have studied both Forrest Yoga and Anusara Yoga, " she says. "These styles have different views on shoulder placement, and this was confusing for me. I tried the different styles with my students and found that some shoulders worked better with one method and some with the other. If the method I showed them did not work, I looked at their individual bodies and helped them find a shoulder placement that felt comfortable."
Digging the Well Deep
John Scott, an Ashtanga teacher who teaches worldwide and codirects the Stillpoint Ashtanga Yoga Retreat Center in New Zealand, the disadvantage of having too much choice is that it "unsettles the mind and gives it an excuse to make preferences when there should be no preferences."
"What is yoga?" he asks. "Becoming one with the object. If we split ourselves between two or more systems, then it is impossible to achieve yoga."
Through his own commitment to the teachings of K. Pattabhi Jois, Scott has not been distracted by conflicting methods. "I have been able to remain focused on the practice, which is difficult to do," he attests.
Download the Full Yoga Journal Online Article Here.

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