A festival like Wanderlust is an exceptional event. Yoga students and teachers journey from around the country, and sometimes the globe, to celebrate with their fellow yogis and learn from their favorite teachers.
Despite what a great opportunity this is to come together, I’ve noticed that sometimes students shy away from making a meaningful connection, or even just approaching others to get to know them—but most especially the teachers presenting. Why?
American Yoga, much like any other people-centered industry in the United States, is subject to our culture of celebrity. With the use of social media sites (we yogis seem to have a fondness for Instagram) to create images of idyllic, desirable lifestyles, yoga teachers can be thrust into fame at light speed.
The thing about fame is that it often keeps the public at an arm’s length. I think a root cause of this phenomenon is that we often assume that well-known people are too busy, too successful, or too far removed from “ordinary living” (or some combination of all three).
These assumptions translate to an expectation that a big name need not engage with those who aren’t as well-known.
And to my fellow yoga lovers, students, and teachers, I say: Forget that mindset!
Yoga teaches us that we are distinct creatures, but also that there are parts of us that are the same, and therefore make us equal and interconnected as human beings, as well as with animals, nature, and the universe at large.
As members of a yoga community, I believe we have a responsibility to honor this teaching of interconnected equality!
Therefore, to the yoga students attending Wanderlust, or any event where you might interact with a big-name teacher, I encourage you to view these teachers with a certain amount of parity.
To my mind, teachers and students are simply people, who have bad days, fart, and even occasionally pick their nose!
Feel your own worth and see these teachers as simply human like us all, and that will help to remove any anxiety you might have about approaching them.
That one opportunity could give you the chance to ask a clarifying question, the answer to which might completely transform your practice, or simply thank them for their offering.
They are your teachers, yes, but as teachers they have a responsibility to remain accessible and to share their knowledge freely.
Knowing this, it is also valuable to be a bit more aware of the schedules and commitments teachers are navigating during a festival.
Many teachers, and I speak from experience here, have busy travel schedules and heavy workloads. So how does one make the most of this experience, of being so close to these teachers, while respecting their responsibilities and schedules?
One thing that will make the festival organizers and other students happy is to respect time. Often the very next class is filtering in while yours is filtering out. You can still have a conversation, just make sure to pick up your belongings to clear the space for the next class and then catch the teacher outside for a chat and a hug.
Teachers are adults, and so if they can’t chat or have to go, they will tell you. Don’t take it personally—just ask what would be the best way to reach them with your question.
Remember, these events are meant to be a celebration of community and friendship on the path whether you are a beginner or the most experienced teacher, so make sure to live it to the fullest!
Photo by Ali Kaukas
Amy Ippoliti is known for bringing yoga to modern-day life in a genuine way through her intelligent sequencing, clear instruction, and engaging sense of humor. She is a pioneer of advanced yoga education, co-founding 90 Monkeys, an online school that has enhanced the skills of yoga teachers and studios in 44 countries. Learn more at amyippoliti.com and find her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.