Many years ago I participated in a weekly mediation group. I felt my teacher was very wise (and still is) as he was steadfast in adhering to the weekly meeting no matter what. He even held the group when his newborn child was in intensive care! We would sit quietly in mediation for one hour, and then he would give a one hour talk. Once upon a blue moon he would pass out information about the new 10 day retreat coming to town, or the 10 day retreat in Bali, or the visiting teacher who was giving a talk at the university. He would never go to these events stating that “I used to be a 10 day retreat habitué, but I found that they don’t really provide me any more insight than I already have.”
The yoga world has more of it’s share of “10 day retreats” with so and so teacher. I admit I enjoy attending workshops with visiting teachers as they bring new insight into my practice and are current with Iyengars. But as I reflect on what I am getting from my mentoring teachers compared to any teacher I have come across in a workshop, I am finding that I have learned vastly more and progressed much further from the steady stableness that they provide.
Yoga wasn’t set up to be a discipline taught by a cadre of superstar visiting teachers. It was set up for one teacher and one pupil in an intensive tutelage format. The more I study with my original mentoring teachers, the more I see the value in the original guru/sishya format.
There is a widespread attention span disorder in our world. I feel that the yoga community is not immune. You hear people say “oh this teacher is coming, did you go to Wanderlust last year? I can’t go this year because I am going to this teacher in LA….blah blah blah.”
My question is what exactly are you learning from these visiting teachers that you are not learning from your regular teacher? You may learn a few cool tricks about how to extend the heel this way or use the prop that way, but are these profound life changing skills? Probably not.
I am not saying to abhor workshops or visiting teachers. My question is by attending all these different teachers, are you muddling the waters of discernment? Are you confusing yourself? Are you a workshop “habitué?”
My advice in my lowly Intro II status is to pick two or three workshops a year where you feel the teacher will provide you some benefit, or answer some question that your regular teachers have not been able to answer. But stick to your regular teachers. They are the true gold of your practice.