Allison English

We choose our teachers, whether we realize it or not. They may be the most iconic, wise figures you’ve ever met – or the person you struggle with the most. I love teachers, I love learning from someone who knows things I don’t. I like to be led.

Allison English is one of the most genius and skillful teachers I’ve ever met. She can put together a yoga sequence that leaves you like a puddle. She’s smart, successful and funny.

I first met Allison when she taught the business component of my Forrest Yoga Foundation Teacher Training. I was blown away. She didn’t sound like any yogi I’d ever met, she was real. She left me captivated and inspired by business.

Only a few months later I reached out to Allison to see if she wanted an assistant for the Telluride Yoga Festival. She took me under her wing, a generous and brave move on her part, we hardly knew each other.

Last weekend, two years later, I dropped Allison off at the airport after a weekend of workshops in Telluride. She taught on yoga nidra, standing strong, arm balances, inversions and backbends (without one single wheel pose). As I drove away I started thinking about why the weekend had been so fulfilling. What keeps me so engaged with certain teachers? What about studying yoga is so compelling that I return again and again?

I think it all comes down to truth. To learning the truth of my body, of my own practice, as student. It has to do with being lead skillfully and safely through a practice that sheds light on corners of myself I’d otherwise avoid. I want to know things I don’t know yet. It doesn’t hurt that any time I have a question about a pose or a part of my body Allison has a genius level anatomical answer.

And so for me it comes to willingness. Are you willing to learn from the lessons of your life and from the teachers that present them? My best advice is to find the teachers that make it fun, that fill you up, and let yourself be led.

Allison and Naani in Telluride, 2013.

Allison and Naani in Telluride, 2013.

on having teachers

Growing up is hard, I'll say it, it simply is not that easy. And I want someone else to say that too. I need teachers and leaders and healers. I am seeking them and craving their gems.  I want them to say, “it’s okay” and “you’re doing fine” and “you’re not supposed to know”. 

I love that I have found teachers who use humor, tough love, compassion, wisdom and fun. I'm grateful for the days that I can show up to a yoga class and be fully led by a teacher, whose own life and experiences has shaped their practice and from which I can glean learning. As a young teacher myself, this is special.

Because this is the truth: we need community and family and circles and teachers and friends. We are not meant to do this thing alone.

And so I urge you to find teachers, everywhere. In friends and lovers and parents. In healers and bosses and community figures. In writers and poets and artists. Find those beings that have glinting wisdom and use it to brighten up when you need it. And here's the kicker, some days, you're that person, too.

Here's one of my favorites, a piece of poetry that soothes me. Take something from it, or not.

“Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet