I didn’t know how much I needed a yoga mentor until I found one
After practicing for several years and trying almost every style of yoga from Bikram to Ashtanga to Vinyasa, I found my first impactful yoga mentor. She had a style all her own. I felt any sense of attachment about what to expect from class flee my psyche. Whatever she wanted to throw our way, I was open and willing to receiving and embracing. It was truly exciting and sparked something in me I’d never even come close to feeling before.
I found other teachers who ignited my passion for yoga. They are all very unique, yet share several similar approaches and philosophies that resonated to my core.
Maintaining and stoking our fervor for the things we feel compelled to explore requires inspiring teachers who continue to guide us to delve deeper and continue to alter the boundaries of what we think we know.
Qualities to seek out in a yoga mentor
- They’re tough and ask a lot. People-pleasers don’t do well in this role. Helpful mentors lovingly push their students to strive in advancing and developing discipline and commitment.
- Creativity and an approach unique to them are hallmarks of their teachings. But it’s not as if they never introduce ideas gleaned from others. They do and give credit where credit belongs.
- Mentors sincerely love people and truly want to help others develop a love and reverence for yoga. They aren’t militant nor are they controlling. The goal is to offer what they can and your reactions and analysis are interesting to them. They wish to learn from you too.
- Passion propels them. The drive comes from an unbridled curiosity. They are always learning new things and incorporating them into their teachings. Their excitement for the practice is contagious and these yoga mentors are able to help arouse that unquenchable fire in others.
- They question themselves and change their minds. This has such a big impact on the never-ending discussion about yoga and the ego. When we keep learning new ideas and concepts, we, of course, will shift our thinking. If your yoga mentor is grounded and nowhere near a pedestal, you won’t feel inclined to think anyone belongs on one, specifically you.
- You trust them. Over time, they’ve won you over with their ability to listen and help you locate what it is you’re seeking to discover. Mentors don’t put their goals for you ahead of what you want for yourself.
If you’re lucky enough to have a teacher who influences you to dig in deep, keep working with them. A yoga mentor is someone with whom you form a meaningful relationship. Conversely, sometimes we need to move on and find new teachers. This allows us to explore alternate concepts, wisdom, and approaches we may not ever consider if we continue to work with just one teacher. If you’re feeling stagnant, working with a different instructor might be just the thing to restimulate your practice.
Signs it might be time to find a new yoga mentor
- Your practice feels as though it’s at a stand-still. If you find that you’re going through the motions in class and not leaving feeling driven or empowered, seek out an instructor that either teaches a totally different style or one whom you’ve heard others rave about. If a specific teacher receives a lot of positive reviews, there’s usually a few damn good reasons for that.
- There’s not much motivation to go to class. Perhaps other activities have become a priority. Maybe you’re really digging your home practice at the moment. But if the class environment is something that has invigorated you in the past, it could simply be you need a unique perspective. Fresh information and a varied approach could be the very thing that gets you pumped to get your tush to class again.
- You don’t feel you’ve learned anything new for a while. This is a big red flag. Our brains need to be constantly challenged. A novel point of view keeps us dedicated and committed. We all need the incentive to keep on keeping on, and constantly developing our own knowledge base is crucial to staying on our learning paths.
There is no such thing as being disloyal to your yoga mentor. We learn a variety of things from different people and finding other instructors certainly does not preclude you from continuing to work with your original teacher. If the goal is to learn, then anyone who is truly a mentor will encourage you to do this in the way that best meets your needs.
Go explore and keep practicing.