Thursday, June 7, 2012

Making the Obvious Obvious

I am here waiting for the air conditioning folks to come over. Or perhaps its the insulation inspector. Anyway, something like that. I have had a nice long stretch of time to be home and I have to say I am feeling so much better for it. I was feeling a bit run down and ragged and being home, getting a lot of sleep and having a chance to connect to some of my friends here has been really great.

One thing I did while I was home was launch a webinar program on sequencing toward pinnacle postures. We had our first class last night and I had so much fun. I scheduled an hour and half, knowing that I can never keep it down to one hour and even with the extra time allotted, I went over! (The picture above is me at my webinar headquarters which is actually my puja/practice room.)

Sequencing is one of my very favorite things to talk about with yoga teachers and students. I think it keeps my brain and intellect happy in terms of asana practice and teaching. I am certainly a very physical person and enjoy being in the physicality of the asana practice a lot but the part of me that like analysis gets exercised when it comes to sequencing. Sequencing, to me, is really as much about pose architecture and pose knowledge as it is about anything else.  Given that I am not working from prescribed sequences but from a fairly wide open kind of approach, I use general principles for sequencing but within that framework, there is so much room to explore, create and investigate.

So a webinar on sequencing to me is partly about presenting the "general principles" but also about what I call "Cracking the Code" of how the poses relate to each other.  A lot of what I am covering has to do with pointing people in the direction of how to see the ways the poses relate, how to access what is many times, for many people, the hidden wisdom of Light on Yoga and to give some practical pointers about sequencing so we have both a baseline as well as some insight about how to intelligently veer from the rules! (I use that word "rules" very lightly when it comes to teaching yoga these days, just so we are clear.)

So we worked a lot last night with reviewing the basic template so that we could establish the basic template as a place to veer from. I gave my usual reminder to keep in mind that in any class we have:
1. Athletes and Dancers who like to MOVE and SWEAT
2. Scientists and Engineers who like to UNDERSTAND and ANALYZE
3. Mystics and Poets who like to FEEL and EXPRESS

In terms of sequencing, this idea is relevant because, in my opinion, a good sequence can help us serve those three different types all in the same class. A good sequence weaves so many threads together so that the athletes get a workout and get further access into the physicality of a posture, the engineers get to further insight into the workings of the poses and the mystics get their required does of inspiration. Of course, we are each a  bit of all of these and  to varying degrees and as students and as teachers we have to keep an eye on playing to our strengths as well as developing ourselves fully. Always a fun balance to strike.

So, last night's lesson had an introduction to the "repetition of shape" as a sequencing tool. This has a lot to do with what I call the "lineage of the posture" which is a term I first heard in Iyengar Yoga. Each pose is part of a big clan- like standing poses, back bends, etc. then they can be subdivided into family units like belly-down back bends or lateral angle standing postures or seated forward bends, etc. But we can also look at other ways they relate to one another in terms of component parts of postures and repeating shapes as well as the common key actions required to safely perform the postures.

So often in Anusara Yoga we worked with repetition of key actions, which I think is very effective for granting access into the poses. In terms of peak postures and pinnacle pose sequencing, I like to we weave the repetition of key actions into a sequence that is built on repeating shapes so that we have more than one strand at play in the tapestry of the sequence. Here is one of the slides from last night's program where we can see our friend Darren Rhodes in the repeating shapes toward a full vasisthasana.  You can see the shapes mimic one another in different relationships to the floor.

Hint: turn side angle pose on quarter turn to the right and his legs would look just like the picture under it.
Turn triangle pose one quarter turn to the right and it becomes the pose underneath it. Keep going one more quarter turn and utthita hasta padangusthasana becomes vasisthasana. lay that pose down on its back and you get supta padangusthasana to the side. AND SO ON....

Oh, the fun is endless. It really is.

So, we worked with several examples of these repeating shapes last night and I gave some assignments about how to work with Light on Yoga to begin the process of mining it for its secrets. So much of yoga, I think- perhaps of life- has to do with learning how to see what is hiding in plain sight. Darren always tells me that my teaching style can be boiled down to "making the obvious obvious".  I suppose that is true but the thing is that it just isn't obvious until it is obvious. (How obvious is that?) Anyway- learning to see is the thing and a huge part of what we get to do as teacher is not just impart information but help people to see and to learn to see for themselves. I think that creates a much healthier bond between teacher and student because the student become empowered through their own learning as opposed to being forever dependent on the teacher for answers, keys and clues.

I personally always recoil inside when teachers say they teach to "empower others" because my opinion is that the power is not ours to give. We can educate, draw forth, inspire as teachers and when that takes root in a student the process is what empowers, the knowledge is what empowers, the discipline that is honed along the way empowers and all that lives already- either as potential or as actuality-  in the heart of the student. It is not my place to attempt to empower anyone nor do I want to accept that responsibility because, in my opinion, it is unlawful. Small digression here but to me, if we can help people learn to learn, if we can inspire them to see, if we can support one another in the process of asking good questions, we are doing our jobs as teachers.

We talked about that a bit last night as well  and so many other behind-the scenes- aspects of teaching. (see why I went over time? yes the course is about sequencing but then, it seems, sequencing is also about so many other things). At any rate, that is a bit of a recap and review. It's not too late if you want to join in the conversation- you can get the recordings of the sessions and the 90-page workbook I made as a learning tool. Register here.

This is also a great time for me to plug Darren's new e-book project. He is working on creating an ebook with poses, instructions, etc. and he is a fundraising stage with it right now, asking for pledges of support. Here is the link to the info about the project to find out more: 

Have a great day!

1 comment:

xxxxx said...

I am really interested in learning more about this webinar...not a very technical person but can I sign up even if the events have already occured and then watch at my convenience? Thanks so much. Diana McNeill, Ontario Canada