Teachers can never stop learning. No matter how much you think you know, it’s not everything.

When I first started teaching yoga I felt like a sponge. I wanted to learn everything I could so that I could impart all that knowledge on my soon to be students. What I quickly discovered was not all teachers have this same attitude.

I recently read an article stating the five least desirable attributes in a yoga teacher (which can be found here: http://blogs.yogajournal.com/goodlife/archives/2013/02/5-signs-of-a-bad-yoga-teacher.html). I have met teachers that fall into each one of these categories, at times even a few of them at once. But like the article says, most teachers do what they do with the best of intentions. Some just get a little lost along the way.

My purpose today is not to list all of the good or bad characteristics I find important in yoga teachers, it is instead to make a case for the idea of eternal learning. You must continue to grow, in some way. If you choose to live your life devoted to teaching (whatever the subject may be), you must also be prepared to learn for the rest of your days.

Why?

Teachers have this unique ability to attract students who have a similar thirst for knowledge as the teacher them-self has. I myself find my students are curious. And thank goodness! I always get questions after class that range from posture modifications to philosophical connections and everything in between. I live for questions. It’s truthfully one of the best parts of my job because it tells me that that particular student is ready to learn more.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t always have the answers. And not knowing the answer to a students question is a humbling and delightful experience. Let me explain. When I was a new teacher I felt like if I didn’t know something I was somehow failing that student. As I began to grow in my position and confidence I quickly realized that I’m too young to know the answer to every single question. There’s just not enough time in the day to learn it all! The teachers that I had in the past that seemed to answer everything (be that answer right or wrong) began to look less genuine to me. I didn’t want to be someone that students couldn’t trust to answer honestly. So when faced with a question I didn’t know, instead of taking an educated guess, I would simply say I wasn’t sure. And then suggest a good resource to find that answer. The important part of that lesson was what I did afterwards. I would go home a learn about it.

The beauty of having students that are thirsty for knowledge is that it constantly pushes me to dive deeper into my own education. It’s this wonderful continuous cycle. I love to pass all I know on in my classes, and that in turn sparks interest in certain students, which again begins the conversations that promote growth through mutual curiosity.

The people who know me best always say that I am a sponge of a brain. I tend to retain most of which I learn. From the outside it seems as though I have a collection of surprisingly random facts floating around in my head, and while mostly true, they have all served a purpose at one point or another. And besides, who doesn’t love dazzling their friends at a dinner party with a particularly wide grasp on the life and anthropological history of squirrels (for example).

I will always learn, so that I can continue to grow. When given the choice to be good or great, who wouldn’t choose great? Take five minutes each day and learn a new fact… Anything! You’d be surprised how much more exciting life can be if you just begin to broaden your horizons.