As you know, I spent last week studying Anusara yoga with Barrie Risman. It was so revitalizing to be a student again! During our week-long session we touched on the importance of studentship - what it means to be a good student and how important that is to our practice and our teaching.
Yoga is a tradition that for thousands of years was passed orally from teacher to student. What we know of yoga today is the result of years and years of dedicated studentship. Individuals interested in the yoga teachings often had to prove themselves to the Guru (teacher) before he would accept them as students, ensuring that each student had the discipline and will to study seriously.
Today of course, we don't have to prove to our teachers that we're "serious students". The modern practice of yoga means many different things to many different people. Some of us are "serious students" and some of us are not - and where you fall in that categorization totally depends on your definition of "serious".
For me, the study of yoga has taught me a lot about being a student. It teaches me over and over that this path is not black and white. That there are different ways of doing things - different perspectives on the same practices - and that no way is right or wrong. It's all yoga. My study has shown me that things I thought were impossible actually become available to me with dedication and commitment (headstand, handstand and hundreds of other poses - i'm talking about you!). The study of yoga has shown me that to be a good student you must listen, decipher and respect the person doing the talking even if you disagree with him or her.
When you break that list down it's easy to see that what I've learned is relevant outside of yoga too. Understanding, dedication and respect are traits that this yoga has cultivated within me and that I am deeply appreciative for.
So the next time you find yourself in the position of "student", take a moment to consider how that studentship is affecting you at the deepest layers of the Self. For me this contemplation makes me hungry for more learning, more teachers, more moments in the role of student because I know that in the end, being a student makes me a better person and teacher.
With thanks to my many teachers (and with gratitude for the opportunity to study),