Relationships are central to this tradition. It may very well be that there is something to relationships that is therapeutic and instills change. That is why, educational theory. That is also why things like therapy. It is the relationships with professors or coaches that often carve out our whole experience of school or university study.
Nothing is as challenging, nor as vital to our inner being, as relationships are. That is why families. Why things like intimate relatioships and marriages are so strangely profound. This is why things like abandonment, betrayal, and neglect so deeply affect our characters. Relationship is everything.
In spiritual traditions you see this as well, although there are so many examples of abuse and sorely abused power. The intimacy of a spiritual leader and his disciple is one frought with tenderness and vulnerability. There are many examples of hurt. But there is also something, terribly important, to the ideal of the relationship.
Yoga has understood all of this. Relationship is written into its structure.
But we don't necessarily have that, in our current understanding of what yoga is. A 'yoga teacher' is usually someone who guides a group fitness class. Sometimes, they become something like pin ups or idols. Occasionally, they become something like life coaches. Sometimes, yoga teachers are friends.
My mentors and teachers have profoundly influenced my life. This doesn't necessarily mean that they are the ones who teach at my local studio, although there have certainly been deep connections there.
My teachers are people I sought out and went looking for. A teacher is someone I committed to, generally with tuition. Their understanding was something I valued. My teachers have been people who saw and valued me as a student. Over the course of time, we have had relationships. Again, this wasn't every day. It wasn't familiar or like a friendship. It was, in a sense, scholastic. And in some ways, spiritual. My teachers have played therapuetic roles, but they have never been my therapists.
They are my teachers. People who I have come to value and to trust. People I glean something from - most notably a deepening of my own direction and path. My life is what it is - I am who I am - because of mentorship.
What that looks like has been different with every single one, and has often taken different forms at different times.
But generally, I know that I will have contact with them on a regular basis. For a very long time. A period of years. There is something to accountability to this; but more importantly of trust. There is something of progression; but more importantly of depth.
When I began to teach people to teach, I realized how often we leave teacher training feeling alone. Most 'training' is a few thousand dollars and a few hundred hours, and nothing beyond that. I have made a point in my own training to be more available, to be open to working with trainees after they have 'finished' training. At some point, people who had trained elsewhere started to come to me with questions. With a desire to learn more or bring their teaching to a more service and social justice oriented place. Or with a need to learn more about the tradition, and themselves, and the mind, than they had gotten out of their original teacher training studies.
I began to understand: sometimes what we most need is to be a student. There is something precious, and something catapaulting, to being in that space.
So I have always been open to working with people. Whether they have trained with me or elsewhere. Whether they want to talk theory or go deeper into their own path.
Something profound happens, when you realize relationship might be important to your yoga. That it has always been instrumental in who you are. That relationship might be a key to becoming who you were meant to be.