Boldly Teaching From the Well

by Kari Ann Levine

Dare I be bold with these statements of how to attain mastery of yoga. But bold I must be to teach from my truth. 

Yoga mastery is not acquired from studying the ancient texts. Nor is it achieved by listening to the lectures of the sages. Nor can it be earned in class with even our most beloved teachers.

This is not to say that these, and other sources of great wisdom, do not enhance our study of yoga. But while these resources are helpful, this is not where mastery is gained. 

Yoga is not an ideology, dogma, or theory. It is a practice. A methodology, if you will. It’s wisdom can only be acquired through the application of its methods — through practice. 

One of the ancient texts, The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, explores this principle in it’s discussion of svadyaya. Svadyaya translates directly to “self-study,” but also refers to study done in reference to sacred texts and knowledgeable teachers. 

The dual translation suggests that when mastery of yoga is the goal, all study is self-study. That all knowledge — even that gained from the most revered epics and enlightened teachers — must be applied personally through practice and reflection for true wisdom to be gained.

While the texts and teachers may sow the seeds of intellectual understanding of yoga — true integration of that knowledge is acquired by watering those seeds from the deep well of our practice.

Within each of us, is a well of infinite knowledge. Only by bringing the waters of this well to the surface do we come to know its contents intimately and personally. And as teachers, the wisdom gained from the depths of our own well, become the seeds we share with our students.

One of the most powerful seeds of wisdom I have received came at the outset of my first teacher training program. “You are the gurus,” exclaimed one of the instructors, as she scanned the room of yoginis and yogis sprawled out on mats across the floor.

This message, “you are the gurus,” was not intended to discredit the work of those whom we traditionally refer to as the great gurus and masters — it was to empower us to trust the well of mastery that each of us bore within. 

Becoming a guru, gaining mastery, being a great teacher — regardless of what you want to call it — comes from svadyaya, self-study, from our personal application and practice of the methodology yoga. We all contain within us a well of great mastery. And when we boldly teach from this well, we teach our students that they too, are the gurus.

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About the Author

Kari Ann Levine is a yoga teacher, writer, and entrepreneur living in Tempe, Arizona. She found inspiration in Yoga while she was in graduate school in 2011, eventually earning her Masters in Sociology researching Yoga and it's impact on people's lives. Kari's teaching style in the practice room mirrors her voice as a writer, and her approach to life — be real with yourself even when it's hard, because the reward for authenticity is worth far more than the cost of even the greatest struggle. Kari is a firm believer in modern day mysticism, living by the philosophy that spirituality is experienced in all the dust and divinity that is the right here and right now. She is committed to being a perpetual student of her heart and soul — and sharing the wisdom she learns with others.