Teacher/student relationship


Due to financial restrictions and living in the midwest I have found it difficult to stay with one teacher but you (Mukunda) emphasize the importance of a continuing relationship with one teacher. That made sense to me. I won’t mention names but I went to several 2-3 day workshops of some well known Iyengar based teachers. They are obviously all now making his teaching their own, I applaud that, but one workshop moved me this way and another that way (same asana) while others actually forcefully “adjusted” me to the point of pain. Oh, and then there was the one five day investment where I left feeling so critized and worthless I wondered what I had to offer as a teacher. Of course as I progress in the understanding of the Sutras I see where Chapter II verse 48 tells me “From that perfection of yoga posture, duality, such reacting to praise and criticism, must cease to be a disturbance.” It was(is) confusing for a serious student that is trying to make her way in a responsible and legitimate manner. I found when I cam home from these various workshops and attempted to integrate it , it became very difficult. I do understand that growth can be painful and it was good for me to stretch myself(no pun intended) but sometimes it made me question my validity as a teacher. Was it evidence of the vritti’s? I also suppose some of the confusion was just the pain of coming out of a comfort zone. But one thing I know was lacking was a feeling of relationship and connection with the teacher. Maybe it is just not enough as one begins to live their yoga instead of “doing” yoga. What is your input?


It is fine to take workshops in one general system that you enjoy. But once you find a style that works then search for one teacher to stick with. I find that this is both a maturity of yoga and a life maturity. One who is really ready for a teacher relationship will just stick to that one when they are clear that the teacher can help remove their doubts.
I find some styles of teaching use intimidation and criticism as a method of teaching. I disapprove of that. I find the best approach is to focus on what the student is doing well and improve that. Patanjali is correct in the sutra that you site as being a sign of perfection of asana; however one need realize that persistently being in an environment of criticism and learnign not to react to it is not the way to test yourself. Spend time in a positive environment as is cited in II, 33-35 then you can visit a critical environment lightly to see later on (maybe 6-12 months of this practice). There is no hurry to perfect this. The key is not being in the lst three koshas but raising yourself to the fourth and fifth koshas while doing asana. It is only in that higher stage of yoga that there are no vrittis. Thus meditation and devotional practices are what perfect the asana practice, not doing more or better asanas. namaste mukunda


I’m not a big fan of disapproval as I find it leads quickly to/from judgment.
But I am also not one who chooses to teach using intimidation or criticism.
I am not an Iyengar teacher though the yoga I have chosen to study does drawn from the asana/pranayama work of Iyengar with a strong influence of Sri Aurobindo.

Your post contains feedback I hear all too often about Iyengar instructors and I had a similar experience in a studio on the East Coast. Two very different teachers with very different approaches. One is due to injure someone with the approach adopted.

Studying with a teacher, a single teacher, does have tremendous benefit but you still need to use discrimination to seek out this teacher. Find “A” teacher does not also mean find a teacher. It’s not the sticking but the relationship. And after all yoga is about relationship - relationship with the self, with the teacher, with others, with the planet, cosmos, etcetera.

Please do not allow these experiences to be labeled as bad but rather as milestones or pointers on your way to the right fit for you and your growth.


your point is very well taken. I feel strongly that being with a teacher helps one to develop all relationships. I just came from visiting my teacher of 32 years in Seattle. We have had an amazing series of lessons from each other and continue to deepen our friendship and admiration not only of each other but of the world as seen through the Yoga Darshan. I find that such intimacy as is strived for by taking all points of view as valid is good. better still is developing the discernment as to what is your path - as expressed in the four virues of dharma, kama, artha, and moksha. Accepting all is fine and yet we cannot deepen our offering without personalizing yoga sadhana. For that a profound relationship with our inner teacher is crucial. A foremost help in this is being with a deep teacher over a long period of time. Patanjali in Yoga Sutras I, 12 states that success in yoga comes from persistence and detachment to the results of practice carried out over a long period of time. Yogis need Patanjali put into their contemporary life. blessings. mukunda


Is your reference here to:

Abhyasa vairagyabhyam tannirodhah?


yes that is correct. namaste mukunda