Are teachers creating dependent students?

Today was my last day training Mysore Style. Upon reflection, it’s been a great week. I have been given an opportunity to truly deepen my practice, using this time to work hard at better understanding particular asanas, and how I move in, out and hold them. My Sirsasana, for example, has significantly improved by having more time to work on this; feel it, notice what is and isn’t working - both physically and mentally. Both teachers have also been very involved with the practice, correcting physically moreso than verbally, to help me (and others) improve our technique.

But with this approach to teaching, which is quite the opposite to Bharath, I noticed how people became dependent upon the teacher. (And they told me so also). Even I would unwillingly become dependent in particular asanas. Sirsasana was one of them, which is not what I wanted at all. Although the lovely woman who taught in the morning meant well by helping me to maintain balance, I was beginning to need her there. Thankfully her involvement became less and less as the week went on, but it made me think about how people come to ‘need’ their teachers. I can see why this would be great for business, but it’s not helping the practitioner to progress.

After class today, I was chatting with another student - a young woman from New Zealand. She was telling me how much she loved being physically corrected. I agreed it had it’s benefits, but in the long run it’s not good at all. This prevents practitioners from ever being able to do self practice in a technically correct way. It also minimises a persons ability to truly learn their body, how it works and what needs to be done in order to achieve a particular asana - whether that’s a micro movement of the hips, engaging the pelvis or a slight tilt of the chin. All these movements are important to feel naturally, not to be forced into. It will never come this way and it creates dependency. The same goes for using props; like straps, bolsters and blocks. Practitioners will never learn to effectively work with, challenge and explore their body whilst using props. I, for one, use to like using a strap for asanas like Supta Padangusthasana (lying down big toe = lying on your back with one leg raised in the air and holding onto your big toe). But now that I don’t use a strap, I realise how limiting this (strap) was to my practice. My flexibility and strength in my legs has significantly improved since working without it. My hips are also opening much better because I’m working through the asana more strongly, through feeling everything work together - arms, hips, thighs, calves, legs, abs, breath. The strap was just laziness (on my part anyway).

So, although it has been a great week in terms of my own development and deepening of the asanas, it’s been a real eye opener about what type of teacher I want to be. I want to offer people the opportunity to really explore their body, to see their body ‘open’ naturally and in their own time. This is a gift and I am excited to share it. I feel so overjoyed every time my body moves in a way I once thought was impossible, and I want others to feel this way also. I could think of nothing more rewarding.

On a completely different note, it’s Happy Holi Day here in India, which explains my slightly odd look! Seeing people drowned in different coloured dyes was fabulous fun. I just wasn’t game enough to bring my camera…

Namaste xx

My new favourite shop - yes, up those vertical stairs!

Happy Holi Day!!

Of course I went for the ‘double’ smoothie today…

…and finished it.