Years ago, a woman who was doing yoga teacher training with me wanted to discuss whether it was right for teachers to use their practice time to prepare for classes. In other words, instead of putting oneself in a devotional frame of mind for practising asanas, pranayama and meditation, a teacher might want to use her practice to try out particular sequencing or unfamiliar postures, for the purpose of presenting a better class.
I’m not sure about right or wrong; I work both ways. At the beginning of the week, I pick a theme that I want to teach, and then I refine it in each of my practice sessions. By my last class of the week, my presentation is fairly seamless, as I’ve been giving myself feedback in each session.
Other times, I practice completely according to intuition: what is it that I feel I need in the moment? What branches of the tree of yoga do I pick from? What fits with the climate, or my mood, or my physical condition?
There is one other way that I choose what I practice. I have 7 Arch Binders that I use to store yoga practices saved over a 20 year period. They are filed under ‘Special Needs’ or ‘Philosophy’ or ‘Anatomy’, for instance. I also have 3 shelves of yoga books, many of them containing programs from experienced teachers: Eric Schiffman, Donna Fahri, Judith Lasater, Linda Sparrowe and Patricia Walden, B.K.S. Iyengar, and more. And, of course I have the YogaAnywhere practice cards.
The more experience a practitioner has the easier it is to choose direction. There’s less stop and start, less doubt, more clarity that comes from calmness. The goal is in sight. The citta vrtti are being soothed.
Anything can be understood. With each attempt fresh and spontaneous understanding arises.*
*Patanjali’s Yogasutras, translation and commentary by T.K.V. Desikachar.