Thursday, May 1, 2008


I organized one of our kitchen cabinets this morning while I drank my tea. Now I have to get ready to go to the dentist to have my crown replaced. I had had the temporary on for two weeks and I am really ready to chew on both sides of my mouth again!

I had a god time teaching last night in San Marcos. The Level 2/3 class learned a nifty way to practice handstand involving a block in the upper back and which led to some breakthroughs for several folks in the room. Chelsea even balanced on her own for a few breaths which was exciting. Stacy pushed up to urdhva danurasana all by herself for the first time ever, with a little help from the strap around her arms but she did it twice without my help. Yippee. So it was a fun night with props helping people glimpse the poses with more clarity.

When I was in Costa Rica with John someone raised their hand and started their question to him saying, "I know you do not like us to use props but...."(I cannot even remember what the question was anymore.) Me and another certified teacher, Sundari, looked at each other and said, "He totally uses props. " And then we caught John's eye and said, "You totally use props." And then John said, "I have no problems with props at all. In fact I love props- what makes you think we do not use props in Anusara Yoga?"

There is a lot of things like that in Anusara Yoga right now. Certain guideline John is putting down on paper read like "Use props when necessary" and then are becoming translated as "Do not use props." Or "Use demos sparingly and only when necessary" has become synonymous with "Do no more than one demo per class and not on your video." "Start the class with something dynamic and in coordination with the breath" has become interpreted as "The only way to start a class is with sun salutations." I could go on.

Take the demo thing, for instance. John says we should not do too many demos because they can slow a class down. So when I first moved to Texas and when I am teaching where people are unfamiliar with the method, I used a ton of demonstrations. I asked John about it, knowing that I was representing the method to people interested in learning to teach and I wanted to model "our way" as pristinely as possible. He said, "Well, Christina, you have an inspiring practice and so demonstration will be a very effective tool in your case and you will probably have to use a lot of them until people understand our method." And with every one of these "teaching myths" that I was describing, that is the answer-- "our way" is just good teaching.

The thing is you just cannot put down an exhaustive list of do's and don'ts that encompass all of what makes up good yoga teaching. It is impossible to do. John Friend teaches effective yoga classes all the time that break his own "rules." We all do, at times.There are so many variables and considerations and factors as to what is effective and the thing is while we have conventions we use in Ansuara Yoga guidelines, we are not defined by them. And good teaching for us is not defined in that way only. There is kind of this underlying priority of - Did the class/sequence/exercise/variation/etc. work? Did it clarify, educate and enlighten and take people to a deeper recognition of the body, the mind, the heart and the grand purposes of yoga? Having said that, we do have "a way." But the "ways and means" ares within the context I just described, not the other way around.

Anyhoo- I could go on about this but really, the only way to enter this grey area is through experience, personal practice, and ongoing reflection. No amount of teacher training and so forth can cover all of the bases and clarify these things appropriately. It take time and personal effort to assimilate and sort out- to find the consistencies and the inconsistencies and to integrate and become not only proficient at it but skillful. And while elements of "good teaching" can be written down and outlined, it is more like art- you know it when you see it. And personal tastes vary.

The Level 1 and 2 class made their first foray into vasisthasana and it went well. Their parsvakonasana and trikonasana were textbook in their form so that was awesome. Such progress. More on that another time but it is a testimony to the consistent work that group has been doing.

Okay- off to the dentist.

1 comment:

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