Reblogs,  Teaching Ashtanga,  Yoga Philosophy

How Important Is It To Just Have One Yoga Teacher?

Great new post from Peg Mulqueen on Ashtanga Dispatch talking about parampara and having one teacher.

If you want to know my opinion – it’s VERY.

Parampara is knowledge that is passed in succession from teacher to student. It is a Sanskrit word that denotes the principle of transmitting knowledge in its most valuable form; knowledge based on direct and practical experience. It is the basis of any lineage: the teacher and student form the links in the chain of instruction that has been passed down for thousands of years. In order for yoga instruction to be effective, true and complete, it should come from utthitahastapadangusthasana813 within parampara.

Knowledge can be transferred only after the student has spent many years with an experienced guru, a teacher to whom he has completely surrendered in body, mind, speech and inner being. Only then is he fit to receive knowledge. This transfer from teacher to student is parampara.  kpjayi website

Oh how we hate the word Guru.  And, honestly, who could blame us?  We’ve had more than enough of those, self-proclaimed, turn out to be nothing more than opportunistic, narcissistic assholes.  In fact, I read one sociopathic teacher write about how he doesn’t believe in the idea of a Guru at all and thus how he justifies sleeping with his students.  Psychopath.

And yet, the MORE I learn and grow, the more sacred I hold this relationship.  In other words, the more I know – the more I know I need a teacher.  No, change that.  I need my Teacher, and that’s with a capitol “T”.

Sarah: For me it’s helpful to use the capitalization technique; my Teacher is the one I see every morning and who I trust to guide my practice and the the work of the everyday. Other teachers are still teachers and I respect their work and maybe they contribute to my practice and they are still part of the ashtanga lineage. Maybe that’s oversimplified, but it seems like a helpful way to distinguish in this age of technology and travel. sally

What makes a capitol T?  You can read this Ashtanga-specific definition here.  I am a lower-case “t” kind of teacher, but hopefully good enough with those students who put up with me.

So I asked this question yesterday on my FB page:  With more students, more programs, more teachers and traveling teachers – how does this easy access and increased choice factor affect this relationship?

In response, I received many justifications for multiple teachers while still a desire for just one.  Some of the explanations held more water than others.

But I’ll make that distinction using my own personal story … last year, my Teacher was moving me through the Ashtanga’s Third Series.  I’m in my late forties, a woman and felt completely unworthy – or truthfully, judged.  Up until this point in my practice, I was always pretty proficient and (more truth) proud of this.  Now I was working hard to keep up, stumbling even.

Lest you worry, I was not hurt.  Just incredibly uncomfortable.  And ego bruised more than anything.

So I did the unthinkable – I questioned my Teacher.  I’m embarrassed about this now but at least I can share this story with you as it’s both relevant and (I hope) valuable even if incredibly shameful for me to recall.


See the whole article here

Shanna Small has been practicing Ashtanga Yoga and studying the Yoga Sutras since 2001. She has studied in Mysore with Sharath Jois and is the Director of AYS Charlotte, a school for traditional Ashtanga in Charlotte NC. She has written for Yoga International and the Ashtanga Dispatch. Go here for more information on AYS Charlotte. For information on workshops, please e-mail

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