Is one teacher the correct method?

Should a student only have one teacher?

I was having a lovely dinner with a friend the other day discussing this idea. The common ashtanga response, ‘many doctors killing one patient,’ usually comes up in this discussion. I understand where it originated. In 2012 a study was published that the 3rd leading cause of death in the US was related to ‘medical errors’ in a hospital. The WSJ and NYT both picked up on the article and ran wild with this idea. Sharath said it once in conference and everyone ran with it laughing.

It’s difficult to put the cat back into the bag once out, it’s even more difficult to convince the masses that there isn’t any truth to these statistics. If you wish to read further into this bit of ‘fake news’ here is the *link*

Assuming that many doctors kill one patient is assuming that there is no continuity of care. It assumes that the patients best interest isn’t at the forefront of the doctors mind, and you know what ’they’ say about ass-u-me (ing) something?

According to market research there are two types of people, PROMOTION based and PREVENTION based. It doesn’t take a psychologist or a PHD to understand that humans want to avoid pain and maximize pleasure. However we often fail to understand that there are two types of pleasures and pain. The pleasure of being nurtured, and the pain of not being nurtured. Also the pleasure of being safe, vs the pain of not being safe.

Both styles, promotion and prevention, are necessary for growth and development. Prevention based is putting on your seatbelt when getting into a car, it’s brushing your teeth twice a day, it’s going for an annual PAP smear.


Taken to extremes, it’s the helicopter parent.

Promotion based is upgrading to the new iPhone, it’s about maximizing gains and never having FOMO. It’s about filling you life with love, admiration, growth, and accomplishments, gaining muscle, a new yoga asana. 

Promotion based motivation has high frequency energy. It’s easily attractive. Dazzled by the stars, and subscribing to ‘People Magazine.’

On the other hand, prevention based motivation is low frequency energy. It’s about satisfying our need for security. It’s fulfilling our duties, our obligations. This is the energy of tranquility, a sense of calm, relief and relaxing.

Before thinking that low frequency energy is a negative energy frequency, ask anyone who works 3, 12 hour shifts back to back what they want to do and their answer is 99.2% of the time, ‘I want to go home and relax.’

As living, breathing, growing, and evolving humans having an experience we need both types of frequencies. 

As students of a yoga practice that follows a sequence, we need both types of teachers. I tend to fall into the later with regards to my teaching style. It’s not necessarily to a fault, but I recognize this in my teaching and in other aspects of my life outside of yoga. I recognize (sometimes) when I am not promoting my students onto the next asana, because I see in their practice a particular area that needs to be developed. I recognize that another teacher would have passed them through to the next asana and probably the entire series. But that is NOT my style.

I am preventing them from continuing in the series because I don’t want them to suffer an injury. I am detaining them because they haven’t learned the lesson that the asana before that ‘troubling’ asana is trying to teach them. I am teaching them to develop strength. Inner strength as well as physical.

I’m not THE teacher for everyone. I will teach you about safety. I will teach you how to adjust and modify to get results. I will hold you back until you are ready and then like an arrow, let you fly through the air without stopping. I will nurture you when you are injured, and pick up the pieces, building you back up. YOU ARE NOT GOING TO LIKE WHAT I HAVE TO SAY. I will encourage the shit out of you anyway.

You don’t have to listen to me as a teacher, as a nurse, or as an acupuncturist. In any and all of these professions, I am not responsible FOR you. I am responsible TO you.

Being responsible TO you in the medical field, we should be encouraging patients to seek a second opinion. Doctors are human too, sometimes they may be missing something, or not recognizing another option that is available. When I fractured my clavicle, the first surgeon  wanted to operate that week, the second opinion said we can wait to see how it heals. He said that if it doesn’t heal correctly we can always go back in with surgery and straighten it out later. If I went and did surgery right away, there would be no going back. Which would you do?

There are times that we as students NEED to get a second opinion. We need another teacher to look at our practice. There are times when the teacher we study under is not seeing our potential, AND there are times when our current teacher may have pushed us too far.

So should a student only have one teacher? I conclude, no.

But I strongly caution you to make sure the teacher that you follow is on the same path and is grounded, following one path.