31 Dec Adhikara: The Practice of Studentship

As a yoga teacher, I offer my students the knowledge that has been passed down through my digested experience of being a student. I have been so fortunate to study and learn from passionate gurus who have offered their own rich teachings of beauty and wisdom. Through my own continuous practice of studentship, I have been able to receive these gifts and cultivate my path. There is an exchange of energy that happens in the classroom, a relationship between teachers and students with a responsibility on both sides to both meet and yield to one another to cultivate learning.   

The practice of being a student is often referred to as adhikara which literally translates in sanskrit as “qualifications” and describes the skills and efforts that the yogi brings to their learning experience. As students we are investing time, money and energy to our practice and in today’s modern studio yoga classes we need to support one another to maintain a harmonious environment that allows us to grow as individuals as well as supports the expansion in the level of practice of our kula. (yoga community)

Some of the qualities of Adhikara in the yoga classroom can be summarized in the following 5 points:

1. Show up (on time!) and be respectful of the space. `

Recognize that your yoga practice begins before you enter your class. The way that you arrive to the classroom and align and place your mat sets the tone for the rest of your practice. Be respectful of students that might be leaving a previous class by giving them time to clean their mats and exit. Arrange your mat straight and tidy and be sure to keep the space clear of anything that is not necessary for practice. Be prepared with any blocks, blankets and belts that you may need. When you are finished take the time to clean your mat, roll it up and place all your props back neatly in their places. The way that you leave your yoga practice sets the tone for the rest of your day and for the practice of the yogis attending the next class. 

2. Be open to receive. 

Come with a beginner’s mind and be open to new ways of experiencing your practice. Our bodies are constantly changing and shifting which gives us the opportunity to rediscover ourselves on a daily basis. Open your mind to seeing things from a different perspective and be willing to try something new. Even if in the end you don’t resonate with that particular style or practice, honour the teachings that are being presented as there are many different philosophies and approaches to yoga and it all points to the same vibration that connects us all.

3. Choose the right class for you

Choose levels and styles of classes that meet your needs. If you are a beginner seek classes that will teach you the fundamentals and alignment of yoga and as you progress make sure that you are challenging yourself to continue to learn and expand beyond your normal practice. Listen to your body. Some days you may want to take a restorative yin class over your level 2 dynamic practice. By choosing a class that best suits your energy and level, the flow of the is room is kept more consistent, balancing the collective energy of the class. 

4. Lead by example. 

Your presence matters and affects the whole group.  We learn not only from our teachers but through embodying the practices of our fellow students. By showing your beauty, courage and grace, you inspire those around you. Committed students have a responsibility to your community to be an ambassador of  your studio. Pull your mat to the front row so that new students can look to you if they need clarification in an asana and be willing to participate in demonstrations of the breakdown of more challenging postures. Be kind and welcoming to new faces and take the initiative to lead by example in maintaining the organization of mats and props. 

5. Be curious and ask questions

Although it may not always be appropriate to ask your questions in the middle of your vinyasa class, teachers are always here to answer questions you may have about your personal yoga challenges and experiences.  We are happy to share insights and tips to help you on your yoga journey.  Be curious to know more. Take interest in deepening your understanding of yoga through workshops and trainings. By immersing yourself in a learning environment there are always new layers of yourself to explore.  Alternatively, seek out private classes where you can specifically get feedback and gain understanding as to your own specific needs.

Whether you are a regular student or travelling through, yoga studios are a sacred space where we can come together to support one another on the path of yoga. Through the practice of Adhikara we can work together to continue to grow to our full potential.