“Do you have a guru”?

Many times, in various parts of the country, I’ve witnessed teachers who put themselves on a pedestal, or students who put their teachers on a pedestal – as if they’re not equals. There is a certain amount of respect which is important to keep towards those who we consider to be our teachers. Respect is one thing – worship is another. Often, I’m asked if I have a guru, and who that guru is. I’ll get to answering that question after this short story……..


Photography: Sarit Photography

A couple of months ago, on a teaching trip to Los Angeles, I taught a weekend long course to teachers entitled “How to Teach Beginners”. I asked Keri Telford, a now seasoned teacher at Exhale, Venice if she would teach a segment of the training. She said yes and also said she’d sit in on the entire weekend.


Keri and I go way back. She was a student of mine for years at Exhale when I taught there full time. She and her husband, Joe attended one of my classes early on, when I had just started to teach, and they were just starting yoga. This was back in the day when I was still petrified to teach, use my voice, let alone actually look at anyone in the room! But, as shy as I was, the practice was working and Keri and Joe kept coming back.

Time went by – I taught more and Keri practiced more. Years started to pass and Keri took Max Strom’s yoga teacher training. Afterwards, she began assisting me. More years passed and now Keri is one of the main teachers at Exhale, Venice.

To the point….when I taught this “How to Teach Beginners” course a couple of months ago, Keri sat attentively through the entire weekend, just like all the other students in the room. She sat there, respecting my teaching and our path together, although I KNEW she was learning nothing new from me. Its a special relationship, student and teacher. She still respects and credits me as a teacher, although I know and accept that Keri doesn’t have anything else to learn from me at this point. Point is, she sat there with respect, and I sat there, as the “teacher” in the room knowing she knew every word that was going to come out of my mouth. And, when she taught her segment, I sat in the back, happy to absorb what she was teaching and feeling so proud of her.

I’m grateful for my relationships like this. I hope to never become a teacher who thinks the student/teacher role can’t be switched at some point. May we all keep respect for one another and see each other as equals. And to answer the question I’m asked often….no, I don’t have a guru, but I have many teachers.


2 thoughts on ““Do you have a guru”?

  1. Julie

    Jamie, I love many things about you… but one of the most striking qualities that I love and respect in you, is your humility. You are an amazing teacher, yogi and woman, yet your ability to remain on equal ground with one and all, is inspiring. This blog speaks to that for me. Sending you hugs from Ashland, until we get to be together again! Big love, Julie


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