Making Yoga a Life Partner

Jul 5, 2013 | Community, Yoga practices, Yoga Teacher Training, YogaAnywhere | 5 comments

Yoga teacher
I read a great article this week in which the author asserted that yoga teachers should be teaching their students to do personal practice – not encouraging them to come classes on-goingly.
That notion resonated with me so completely that it stopped me in my tracks. Despite the fact that I agree with the idea that students should practice yoga outside of classes, I haven’t been teaching them to do this. I’ve been in a state of resignation.
I’ve been teaching in the Yoga Shed on Mitchells Island for over three years now. The students, for the most part, seem not to have been inspired to do home practice. For several months, I set aside Saturday early a.m. for them to come to the Shed and practice with me, but only one of them took me up on the offer. I guess when I heard myself talking up personal practice, it was starting to sound like nagging. Or manipulating. Or cajoling. I ran out of strategies.
When I lived in the city, early morning Saturday practice, followed by breakfast was a ritual for a decade. We were a small community that came together informally and got to know each other well over the years.
I admire the Ashtanga Vinyasa system of yoga because that style teaches a set sequence which is easily replicated outside of class by the students. Me, I tend to never duplicate a class, which lets me be endlessly creative, but perhaps makes it harder for students to reproduce a session.
In my defence, I think that a one-size-fits-all yoga program is not appropriate for most students. So, I try to teach to each individual within a general class framework, and I also recommend the students do the poses they find helpful or feel good for them outside of class.
A few years ago, Gretta and I put our creative juices together to produce home practice cards, YogaAnywhere, so that students could be guided by some tried-and-true programs. I’ve heard good reports from those who have used the cards.
I guess the difference between attending a class and doing personal practice is that in the former activity, you are being taught. In the latter you step into being your own teacher.
Really, that’s what yoga is about.
 

5 Comments

  1. Hi Eve, yes I am a teacher and I do have a personal practice and I do practice it. It does require commitment and flexibility just because that’s needed from time to time. I have a teacher and a mentor (Michael de Manincor MdM), I check in with him regularly to tweak my practice and to discuss what I have learned about myself and life in the process. My experience is exactly what you have posted; in some group classes you are being taught and in your personal practice it is the practice of yoga that becomes your teacher. I too attend a regular Saturday morning class and I love catching up with my yoga community.
    Personal practices brings a whole new dimension to my yoga, perhaps it’s a cultural thing. Personal practice develops my relationship to responsibility for my self care, it is very empowering and revealing, I love it!
    Most people think practicing yoga is to be done in a class, as teachers we need to get the word out about the profound benefits of personal practice. MdM say’s, attending a class on a regular basis is great! However, yoga works best when it is a practice that is suitable and appropriate for the individual and practiced on a regular basis (hopefully daily) over a long period of time.
    Love your blog, thanks…..Maria

    Reply
    • Thanks for your comments, Maria. I particularly like what you said about personal practice helping you be responsible for your health and well-being.
      It’s Medicare for the body, mind and spirit and doesn’t cost us anything except an investment in ourselves, and investment that pays off for everyone!
      Namaste, Eve
      PS Please circulate “Yoga Suits Her” if you think appropriate….

      Reply
  2. I agree I make time for my personal practice at least twice a week. Once a person has gone to a yoga class and been instructed how to do a posture the Yogi can work out a programme for the would be practioner so that he or she can practice at home and do the asana’s,hatha’s or what ever type of yoga that it is. This will make a real difference to the practioner’s lifestyle.

    Reply
  3. Hi Eve, just wanted to make a comment here. It was Ashtanga Vinyasa that first gave me a set routine I could practice at home many years ago, which was great, but it is a long practice and not something I could see myself doing in the years to come, I was already the oldest in the class, but if I didn’t go to the class I did it at home and have done a regular practice ever since. In the years since then, I have studied intensively with the Desikachar family and learnt how to design individual practices. I have a mentor, Barbara Brian in Melbourne who gives me a practice when I see her (I’m in Perth), and we skype regularly, this is a wonderful system. For my own students, about three years ago I offered them all a personal practice free of charge, and most have took me up on this, and several have been back a few times and had updates for their practice, I give this at a reduced rate. I know many do it regularly, and as always many have good intention but don’t manage to fit it in, but hasn’t stopped any coming to a regular weekly class as well, they enjoy the sanga of the class. Your post has made me think it’s time to offer this personal practice again, reignite the flame for those who find a regular practice difficult, and update those that are still doing what I last gave them, and there are some new students, so encourage them. It’s time consuming but I feel it’s giving back to them for supporting me and continuing to attend my classes. Dael

    Reply
    • Thank you, Dael! I’ve been thinking of doing just what you did – offering my students a gratis session to create a personal practice.
      How great that you have cultivated this skill of creating programs for your students. That’s all we want to do as yoga teachers – give back the gifts that we have so greatly benefited from.
      Kind regards to you and to your teacher, Barbara.

      Reply

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