I have for many years considered Angela Farmer and Victor Van Kooten as my main yoga teachers. Anyone who has studied with them and me might be surprised since our styles are so different. Why do I call them my main hatha yoga teachers? (and yes, this relates to “Why Go Deep?”)
They are my main teachers partly since their “bottom line”, i.e. what the asana practice is all about, is Energy. That’s mine, too. It’s all about Energy (Prana if you want the Sanskrit “yoga-sounding” word for it.) Also they are, in my opinion, healers who use yoga as their modality. I have been called a healer, and I am OK with that label, though of course all I really try to do is get ME out of the way of the Energy.
But even more than that they are the only teachers I have had who modeled how I try to be as a “teacher” with my “students.” They were the only ones I’ve seen willing to LEARN from their “students.” I have been blessed to have been with MANY great teachers, many world- and national-renowned teachers, and they are the only ones who I saw open to taking constructive (critical) feedback from a student (me, at the time), accept it, even thank me for it, and make a change in themselves and their teaching as a result. All the other yoga teachers I experienced, the big names and even some local ones, though certainly I haven’t studied under EVERYONE, preferred either a) to be preachers and to have all the answers (the right ones only, of course) and thus simply to be closed to receiving any feedback other than positive; or b) to take the “seat of teacher” as a place of superiority, several even to the point of having to sit above their students; or c) to receive with a condescending tone any statement even remotely critical of the content of their teaching or themselves at best or at worst even taking it to the point of kicking the “offending” student out.
Though I have at times disagreed with the feedback, I have always respected the great courage it takes for a “student” to challenge his/her “teacher.” I consider, and always have considered, my “students” as my “teachers”, and have over the years received some challenging, but always helpful in some way, feedback that I have used to grow as a teacher and human being. After more than 26 years of yoga and spiritual study, I think that this quality of a teacher is probably the one that I value the most highly. If I as a student can’t challenge my teacher, then I’m happy to learn what I can from them, but I would never feel safe or be interested in “going deep” with them.