Mat Manners

Hi folks,

One last thing. In these times of changing teachers, it is a great opportunity to consider how we encounter the information they bring to our practice, and how to communicate respectfully what we need in an appropriate fashion. I’m sure many of you have already figured these things out over time and practice.

Having been on both ends of many exchanges of this nature, having benefited from many good exchanges with amazing teachers, and having made mistakes too, I humbly would offer the following:

It is no disrespect, in fact it is a great thing to give a teacher information regarding your practice, your body, or your pain. If the floor is busy, do your best to communicate the information in a succinct fashion.

It is preferable not to offer specific direction to your teacher, in fact it can undermine or block your teacher from giving you new information. It also communicates a level of disrespect for what they know and might bring to your practice.

One thing I have noticed is that often teachers come along and will question what we rely upon for our practice. IE if you use a specific prop, they may question it. They may offer you a different technique or prop. They may try to (gasp) take it away. They may change some seemingly essential element to our daily routine. (Rock n Roll, anyone?) These changes can can be made to great effect, and help us sift through what we really need/show us something wonderful, in so far as we allow it to do so.

Sometimes the changes they suggest may be helpful, even transformational for our practice.

Sometimes they won’t be helpful, and can most appropriately be set aside when the teacher leaves.

Personally if I am practicing in another teacher’s room I will do what I can to respect their wishes, but I wouldn’t go so far as to practice something I know will cause my body harm. And I can’t think of a teacher that would expect you to.

Working out where that line is, the line in our practice and life that distinguishes the body we live in, and who we are, to me that’s the most interesting part. This is the part of practice that has the capacity to teach us the most about ourselves and bring us closer to the self we seek through this seemingly physical practice of yoga.

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