The idea of copying is something that I've struggled with for as long as I can remember. I've held this deep seated annoyance with anyone who "stole" my ideas. From what I wore to the activities I chose to the music I listened to, I would get down right mad if someone "took" my space and made it theirs.
Then I started teaching and I was forced to really examine this idea of "stealing." Because guess how you learn to teach?
You steal ideas.
Okay, maybe not outright steal them. Your teacher shares her methods with you and then you go out and mimic her. You do this until you are comfortable enough to begin exploring your style. And how do you explore your style?
You steal ideas.
Or perhaps "borrow" them. Try them on for size, if you will. See how they fit, give them back or make alterations.
Let's be honest, no one is expecting you to sit in a dark room, hold lotus for 108 hours and become enlightened enough to create truly unique asanas. Rather we learn through the repurposing of methods, style and approach that we see in other classes, online and in workshops.
My head spins sometimes at just how many different ways a vinyasa can be taught, explained and demonstrated. This weekend, I learned a new-to-me approach, and I can't wait to share it with my classes. And that had me realizing that "stealing" isn't a bad thing, it's a necessary thing.
As teachers we transmit what we learn. And to be a thoughtful, educated teacher, we too need to keep learning. A part of the process is undoubtedly sharing what we find during this exploration, or, really, what's the point?
But here's where I feel a clear distinction needs to be made: if you do copy, steal, repurpose or whatever you want to call it, give credit where credit is due. This, to me, is key. I have no shame in sharing where I get my ideas, and if a student comments on a certain approach I'll happily send them to the source. My goal as a teacher is to the provide the tools, and, more often then not, I'm not the creator - rather just the supplier - of those tools. And I believe that we all deserve to know where those tools are made.
And I hate to break it you (or myself), but there's very little that hasn't already been done in this world. However there is one component that will make your version of a borrowed technique truly unique: YOU. No matter how many other people copy you or have done this before you, they can never, ever do it like you do.