It’s easy to get hooked on a single studio, a single type of yoga, or even a single favorite teacher. I’ve literally seen students at my local studio cry when “their teacher” moves away. And I’ve seen students turn around and walk right out of the studio when they find out that there is a substitute teacher. Lately, I’ve been trying to break any attachment I have to a single school of yoga or any single teacher, and to broaden my horizons by learning from a wide range of people coming from a wide range of yoga traditions.
There are many benefits to mixing it up and trying out different teachers. First, from a physical perspective, you are more likely to learn and improve if you draw from a wider range of teachers. Sometimes, if you practice constantly with the same one or two teachers, you come to learn their teaching style so well that you can predict what the next pose is going to be before the teacher even says anything. Of course, there’s something nice about going to comfortable, familiar place. But there is also something great about making yourself uncomfortable by exposing yourself to novelty.
Whenever I take class from a teacher I’ve never tried before, I find myself stumbling a little bit because I don’t quite get all of their instructions, and I’m not totally used to their way of sequencing the poses. But, inevitably, I always walk away from such an experience with at least one new bit of knowledge. Maybe a new pose, a new variation, a new way of getting into a pose, or simply a new way of conceiving a pose can help you to grow in ways you didn’t know were possible. This has certainly been the case for me. I’ve been practicing yoga for going on six years now, and a few weeks ago, I took a class with a new teacher who totally blew my mind with her approach to Warrior II, a very basic pose and one that you might think a seasoned practitioner would already know inside and out.
Besides the physical benefits of trying out new teachers, there is also the benefit of breaking free from attachments. Sure, the yoga system (if we can even talk about a single yoga “system” in this way) is based on a kind of teacher-student or master-disciple relationship. But I doubt that this system is supposed to promote a highly emotional dependency on one’s teacher. Ultimately, we want to become our own teachers. That journey becomes easier once we see that everyone is a potential teacher to us, not just our favorite teacher who teaches in our favorite style of yoga.