Student Teacher Q&A: Encouraging Goals?

Student Teacher Q&A: Encouraging Goals?

STUDENT: How do you encourage a student who keeps taking stabs at Marichyasana D and they still can't bind? As a teacher, how do you not get frustrated and go, “what the hell? You've been working on this for 6 years!"

DAVID G: What is frustrating is to change the goal that the student has in their mind. It’s an instilled thing, this goal, both in our American culture and in the Ashtanga culture. Just the fact that you don’t get the next posture until you do the one you’re on is a terrible incentive in some ways. It just means, “I’m gonna cheat”. It basically invites you to wrangle and to do anything you can do to get that goal. 

Often when I ask a student about their practice, almost universally, they write things that are completely about the end point, “ I can’t bind in marichyasana C yet.” And it’s like, I don’t care. That’s also what I’m saying, you as a teacher not caring if they can bind influences that student.

What do you care about? What do I care about? I care about how you deal with your limits. And I teach you how to do the posture that is respectful to your limits. I want to teach you how to change what the goal is. But not every student will accept this approach. Some people, no matter how many times you try to tell them its not about binding, they’re stuck on it, and they are setting themselves up to quit. A person bases their progress in their practice on arbitrary things like being able to bind. People quit doing yoga because they can’t bind and I do not want to be a teacher that in any way gives momentum to that. And it's hard for the student. It’s fun to try to get Marichi D, and it’s more than fun, it's a good struggle, but when it flips over into this imbalanced thing that spoils it and that's not the spirit of Ashtanga. 

As a teacher you need to try and avoid that the spirit of Ashtanga is that in order for the student to progress they have to do everything on the checklist. That’s a terrible spirit. Guruji teased you with new postures in a fun way. It was a motivator, not a way for you to start whipping yourself. Being able to bind in Marchiyasana D is low on the priority of what you want to extract from Marichi D and others. 

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