As yoga teachers, the majority of us have immersed ourselves in the one, maybe two, systems of yoga that we teach. And rightfully so — committing to studying one approach or lineage wholeheartedly will not only take us deeper into our own yoga practices, allowing us to teach from a place of authentic knowledge and experience, but will take us deeper into our own understanding of ourselves. There’s great value in going deep; however, there’s something to be learned from all of the styles that color the modern yoga scene.
While you may not have time to study and train in the various styles of yoga, there are advantages in at least familiarizing yourself with what’s out there, by trying a class or two. Here’s why:
1. Appreciation for the big picture.
While you may think the style of yoga you study and teach is the bees knees, all systems have something of value to offer. Let’s be honest, nobody likes a yoga elitist. Take a tour of your local studios and teachers, and discover what those other yogis are all about. You may not like every yoga style you try, but at the very least you’ll have a more global view of yoga.
2. Strengthen your beginner’s mind.
Different styles of yoga have different ways of doing things, different queuing and sequencing, different alignment principles and biomechanics, and different reasons for doing what they do. After studying and teaching for a number of years, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that what you know is the answer. Taking an unfamiliar yoga class requires an open and empty mind, bringing you back to that beginner’s state of humility and intrigue. It’s actually quite lovely to be able to take a class anonymously and just be a student again.
3. More tools for your belt.
You don’t have to agree with everything, or even necessarily like the practice, but whether it’s a new technique, pose or perspective, chances are good that by taking different styles and teachers you will learn something new to share with your students. Exposing your students to different ways of practicing and explaining various nuances will richen their yoga education, and they will appreciate your new insight. Besides, what’s one more tool for the belt?
4. Fall back in love with the style you teach.
It’s nice to mix things up and take classes outside of your immediate yoga community. Stepping away and seeing how other systems approach the practice will not only give you greater appreciation for all of the styles, but will also help you reconnect to the reasons why you love the system that you study and teach.
As yoga teachers we are first and foremost yoga students. Continuing education is apart of our job description. So put on that beginner’s cap and head into a class that’s foreign to you. Your students will thank you for it.