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.