Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Got All Your Eggs in One Basket?

When is a Daily Yoga Tip NOT a Daily Yoga Tip? I know! When you don't send it out every day! My bad.

Sorry everyone. I've been busy. I've been doing some travelling. And too much work.

But on with Daily Yoga Tip.

I'll confess that I'm probably the worst yoga teacher I know when it comes to telling students in class about the benefits of individual yoga poses.

As you might have noticed I really value experience. So I typically prefer this approach to teaching yoga:
1. Inspire people to follow your lead.
2. Get them to do the pose, so they have an experience of it.
3. Help them interpret their experiences by giving them more context and information.
4. Build on what you observe (e.g., if you want students to experience forward bends with their legs straight, but they bend their knees anyway, teach them, interact with them, assist them, so they can do the pose with straight legs).
5. Allow students to discover for themselves the benefits of a pose...by doing that pose.

But this violates one of the big rules of "adult education."

Adult learners want to know why!

I've been in some classes where this is over-emphasized. The teacher won't teach a pose without first listing the benefits you can expect if you practice it. The result is a class with a lot of talking and not much doing.

But that's a minor squabble. My biggest concern is an attitude that emphasizes isolation. Isolation is when you pick out a single body part or concern and do only the poses you think will affect it.

I was talking today with Sallie (my fellow yoga teacher) about one of her students who has pretty significant limitations in a particular body part. For example, let's say it's her upper spine and neck.

When Sallie and her student began working together, they focused primarily on poses that brought awareness, mobility, and sensitivity to her upper spine and neck. This was very satisfying and productive.

But soon they began working on a wider variety of poses that weren't known for the benefits they produce in the upper spine and neck.

Guess what happened? Her upper spine and neck started to improve dramatically.

The upper spine and neck, like any of your body parts, don't exist in isolation. They exist as a part of a whole system.

That's my point. Put your focus on the benefits of a well-rounded practice...a practice that includes a variety of poses. The benefits of each individual pose will become less significant.

If you were a stock broker this would be called diversification. You don't put all your eggs in one basket.

I really believe in this approach to yoga. And that's why I fail so often to talk about the benefits of individual yoga poses in class.

So what constitues a well-rounded practice? Every time you practice try to include a forward bend, a backward bend, a twist, an inversion, and some standing and seated poses. That's it. And don't forget savasana at the end.

Don't just read about it. Get up. Experience it. Experience yoga!

Kevin Perry

Copyright 2005. All rights reserved, Mo Yoga LLC.


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