In my role as the Director of the YYoga Teachers’ College, I have frequently been asked by recent training graduates, “Now, how do I choose my mentor?” For yoga students, this is akin to asking the question, “How do I choose my teacher?”
First, it’s important define exactly a mentor is. From Greek mythology, “Mentor” was the name of the Odysseus’s trusted friend who was charged with the responsibility of raising his son while Odysseus was away on his travels. A mentor is therefore a trusted guide, whose role is to teach from the light of his or her own experience. Not only does a mentor advise, but he or she is also expected to model ideal behaviour.
In looking for a mentor, we are not trying to find someone who will simply tell us what to do. As yoga students, we come to the learning table with the substantial weight of our personal practice and life experience. As yoga teachers, we can add our teacher training to our list of resources. At the same time, we want our mentor to have more experience than us, so that they can advise us as one who has already “traveled the path.” Entering into a mentorship is entering into a partnership, where each party values the others strengths and contributions.
When looking for a mentor or teacher, it is important to find someone with whom you can develop a relationship of trust, communication, and mutual respect.
- Which teachers model the behaviour or teaching that I wish to cultivate within myself?
- Who inspires me?
- With whom do I feel that I can communicate honestly and effectively?
- Who do I feel comfortable asking questions of? And sharing my own point of view?
- With whom do I feel mutual respect as a teacher and person?
Finding a mentor with knowledge is only part of the journey; we also need to choose a mentor with the ability to provide us with communicable resources to develop our own skills.
Finally, when looking for a mentor, remember that you are not asking for a favor. In its best incarnation, the mentorship process is a two-way street, where your mentor will benefit and learn as much – if not more – than you by the partnership. A good mentor will cherish the opportunity to be a humble student as well as a knowledgeable guide.