April Newsletter 2019
“ And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
As valuable and necessary as the practice of acceptance, of ourselves and others, the BEING, is the practice of welcoming change, shifts, and even opening ourselves to entire, alchemical transformation. Spring has announced itself boldly here in Vancouver, and with more light and life, sun and wet, smells of damp earth and fresh buds, we are reminded that our practices, formal and non-formal, must acknowledge this half of the whole: our BECOMING.
Our senses are teased and tickled, and we are being invited wholly into the feeling body. We may be reminded of our pulse, our joy, or our thirst, or our longing. We may not know what the quickening inside is at all…but it is too real to ignore. Along with support of the season itself, that offers us buoyancy and a certain rhythmic swell, gather your tools, call in your support guides (therapists, besties, spirits), BREATHE, OPEN and MEET CHANGE where it is calling you.
Our nature is to grow.
with love and courage,
New Public Class at One Yoga Vancouver
I am so happy to announce a new public class on my weekly schedule.
Starting this month, I took on Tuesday evenings at One Yoga, 545-715pm. This is an all levels, 90-minute class.
For this newsletter, I have pulled this question on teaching and planning classes:
“Lately, I've been feeling like I teach the best when I have no plan, so that I can best feel into the energy of the group, and teach from that place. I might have some ideas of a pose or sequence to work with, but if I plan more than I find I don't teach as well bc I'm not as tuned in. I'm wondering how you find the balance between a plan and the flow, and if you have any suggestions for how to walk this line. Thank you!”
To plan or not to plan?
I think we need to know HOW to plan a balanced class; even if we don’t plan ahead. And as best we can (appropriate to our experience, and training, etc,) have a general understanding of what creates a balanced and whole experience; the centering, the poses, the rhythms, the elements of movement and stillness, challenge and repose, the arc, the warming up and the cooling down.
More often than not, I plan (and practice, and write down) my whole sequence. That’s what works for me. And, more often than not, I don’t teach that exact sequence. But rarely will I toss the whole thing, either. As the class moves, and based on both what I observe and/or feel, I may shift it; the “peak” (if I had one) changes , the rhythm may shift, or I may see I need more or less time to move the class somewhere; or if the thrust of the class doesn’t feel as alive and honestly moving THROUGH me as it was when planned.
I have also had the experience of holding so rigidly to a plan that there was no room for listening in the conversation of teaching. This is the listening we do as teachers ; a metaphor for open-eyed observation (seeing WHO is in the room, or gauging student readiness for certain shapes or experiences, WHAT IS REALLY HAPPENING), and our receptivity to the name you may have for the source energy that co-creates/co-teaches/co-exists with/in you, the students, the room, the day, the breath, that offers itself to the experience through you.
There is also a spectrum to planning, as needed. That is, your plan may be as “loose” as wanting to offer a slow(er) flow with as little verbal instruction as needed and ample attention to breath; or more directed, to teach primarily standing poses to empower confidence; or to work toward (and from) a complex shape with investment in specific actions to support.
A few ways that planning can be of service:
While we all aim to offer a rounded experience to our students, we will inevitably have our own preferences; be it in the shapes we choose, the transitions we value, what we prioritize within the body of the class, and/or within the body. Certainly this isn’t a “bad” thing (we have preferences for a reason), but it can mean that if we don’t consciously choose some kind of focus, you may never introduce shapes, or elements of practice to your teaching toolbox and /or to your students. For a few years, I just didn’t teach thigh stretches (truthfully, because it didn’t seem students liked them ...I DIDN’T LIKE THEM). But a warmed-up thigh is going to be much more supportive if I am teaching a backbend (like camel pose, for example), than if I haven’t opened it at all. So, one day, I taught a thigh stretch… and it was fine. And it served.
Some of us may be in a position where we teach a certain community regularly; be it one class/week, or two, or more. In those classes, we may be seeing some (or all) of the same students throughout the week/month. This is an opportunity for planning to be of great service. And you may even choose to be explicit about it, telling your students that on Tuesdays, you may focus on hip openings and some handbalancings; while on Thursdays, you will explore twists and forward bends. And in so doing, in planning this way, you will offer them a varied and balanced experience through the week of their practice. Through this planning, you will inevitably refine or introduce some poses to your own teaching syllabus, and see areas for further opportunities in exploration with your students. Or perhaps, Mondays will be “Storytelling Monday”, in which you will begin by telling a story that inspires practice that week/day, etc.
Ultimately, planning and not planning are both valuable.
If not planning is feeling best, and serving well, keep on.
I hope this has given you some things to move with and from.
With continued ease and inspiration on the path.