For the past two months, I have been teaching yoga at a the Longfellow Sports Club in Natick, MA. My class is at 9AM Monday mornings and is listed as a Hot Room Vinyasa style class. I am working hard to create the right blend in this class, to make it the perfect gym-style yoga. Teaching in a gym, especially one with a room right next to the weight room, is different than teaching in a yoga studio, where yoga is the main focus. Now don't get me wrong! The gym clientele is definitely savvy to yoga, but they are often running in sweating from the treadmill or running out to go to zumba next. I want my class to be perceived as a part of a lifestyle routine, not just as part of a workout. I want people to know how to align their bodies for safety and support, to build themselves from the ground up. As my teacher pointed out the other day that "You cannot learn how to do a handstand if you cannot even stand on your own two feet."
How to keep the essence of what I believe is yoga in this class? How to create the perfect balance of yoga and "workout", so the clientele sees it as fitting into their workout regime but at the same time being able to deliver yoga-effort and release-not just effort, effort, effort, ooomph! The word Vinyasa means "breath-synchronized movement". In a Vinyasa yoga class each pose is connected to the next through breath creating a smooth way for the poses to run together, becoming like a dance. But the dance is not solely the external asanas (poses), it is also the internal effort of the practitioner to allow for effort and surrender. Moving from one pose into the next and feeling like you have attained your goal as you "arrive" in your pose, is not a dance. That is a statue. Poses must have life in them, breath, and growth. No pose ends at the external shape of the pose just because you have arrived there, the real has just begun.
I decided to call my class "Tap Into Sensation", because I hear this phrase loud and clear in my own practice. We use yoga to tap into the sensations in our own bodies, our lives, making us aware of how we feel, why we do what we do, how to release our creative imagination to allow for change and growth....shave and a hair cut, two bits! By becoming more aware on our mat, we will become more aware off it; allowing us to balance our lives. By using an even breath effort, our asnasa practice will be more even, therefore allowing us to have a more even mind.
I study earnestly with my mentor, Barbara Benagh and will be joining her Deeper into the Art of Teaching program this coming October. It is an intense 15-month teacher training program and I am so excited and eager to participate. For the past 10 months, I have been taking her class at Down Under Yoga in Newton, Highlands, and I take notes and write comments to myself throughout the class. This does detract from the initial experience of the session, but as I dissect it throughout the week, I find I can attain a much deeper understating of the practice in my own body, allowing me to adapt sections to my own needs and for the classes that I teach. I follow Barbara's model, where I create one class (with a specific anatomical focus or root idea) at the beginning of the week and then I keep teaching that class throughout the week, adapting and refining it. I read something that Shiva Rhea had written about Vinyasa yoga and it sat very well with me. She wrote that it is not only a flow of the poses but there has to be a flow between the beginning, middle and end of the class.
So I am building my yoga program to flow from beginning to end, to allow my students time to focus on themselves, to allow them to stretch their bodies and to allow them to discover their own personal dance between effort and surrender.