Recently, I had the pleasure to read the LA Yoga Magazine article “Mentors Empower Success for Yoga Teachers,” by Marja Lankinen. A well written piece that touches upon an aspect of mentoring. Loosely, looking into the framework of the article, it would be kind to add that mentoring can certainly lead and historically has led to credentialing. Not the credentialing we have come to know in terms of hours regulated by outside governing bodies.
The credentialing process, classically, teacher to student, is an original format that is worth remembering not only as a continuation of history but for the true transmission is grounding and powerful.
A stability arises in this transmission process and a perpetual knowledge is retained by the student. This knowledge, passed from sensei to disciple is not only in knowing ‘how to’ but the ‘when to’ and with ‘how much.’ In other words, proper, ‘right knowledge’ is established and a clear route with less tension and obstacles are carved out by the guru.
This reception and tension taken on by the sadhaka does yield a particular pressure we refer to in hatha raja yoga as ‘tapas.’ Tapas translates ‘to heat.’ When this process begins, transformation not only yields heat or tension, it also brings about a surrendering to the practice. The mere physical nature subsides as mental and emotional catharsis occurs. The transformation can feel more like a transmutation; uncomfortable and foreign. It is here where the student has developed deep trust in the teacher and the teacher is now working with the interpersonal workings of the individual.
Embracing the mental and emotional changes, though they are not often explained with depth of understanding in training certifications or even in mentoring, are a necessity for development in both teacher and student. We could say that intuition is expanded and harnessed within the connection for both guide and traveler. Further, the students intuition leads to trust and right knowledge and away from goal oriented, course certification only. This is also beneficial for the guide, as teachers we may not even have the ability to attend deeply to the developing need of the student due curriculum unloading required to meet modern credentialing systems.
No matter how creative, not all practices create the specific changes the student may be looking for or required for them to experience the process of yoga. If yoga is a state in which we enter, it is necessary to see personal development and transformation not just reverence for technique. Nor reference for a process of completion in replace of sound individuality and collective consciousness.
I am aware that technique yields experience and that awareness extends to the transformational keys that transpire with specific mechanisms of control within technique to arouse one’s self knowledge and power. Regardless, it would be excellent to see not only the techniques revered and polished but the development that comes with them in the actual transformation within a mentorship or training program. It would be great to see the test at the end of the course become the tools brought into living and what comes into play in the fluctuation of life.
Students and teacher become short-sighted on completing a course rather than gaining knowledge. Defeating the purpose of the process of a true, direct study, that can guide the student through the transformation which comes with not only physical alteration but mental and emotional ones and offer the same to the teacher as both relationships tighten (the become more tied) as it lightens (they are more physical and independent of each other).
Perhaps as mentors or mentored we can elevate yoga beyond it’s current framework by allowing it become more loose in what it looks like commercially or in credentialing or even mentoring and be tested more in our living and personal areas. Perhaps asking: Does this make me a better person? Am I more complete according to my own standards? What is keeping me away from my full potential? As a teacher maybe we can look deeper into when is it a right time to let this bird fly? The student needs to become independent over becoming a teacher. Yes, they can still be a yogi and have x, y, z for an occupation. They cannot fulfill their life purpose however under the thumb of the teacher nor can the student learn if they do not allow for the guidance.