Thursday, February 7, 2013

Notes from My Practice - Be Consistent

Every so often a new practitioner would attend our Ashtanga class with Kunal and I would hear him tell them to be consistent in coming to the classes so that they can see their progress.

I find this to be especially true to my own practice as having been consistent in going to the yoga classes during my first year of practice has helped in my progress , not only in terms of doing the asanas but also in my spiritual growth.

Going to classes regularly will help to build the foundation for our self-practice later as we learn the poses under the guidance of a teacher who will be able to answer questions about the yoga practice that might crop up when we delve deeper into the poses. 

Here are my suggestions on how you can be consistent in going to the yoga classes. 

-  Choose a studio that is nearby to your workplace if you intend to go the yoga classes after work.  If you have to fight traffic going to the studio, chances are you will either not go to the classes at all or you will feel flustered every time you attend the class which will be disruptive to your practice.

-  Find a teacher that you can relate to and set an intention to attend the teacher’s classes regularly.  Choosing to follow one teacher would mean that you will be practicing the style of yoga that teacher is teaching.   This would avoid the confusion of learning different techniques to go into the poses each time you attend classes with teachers teaching a different style of yoga.  After you have been practicing for a few years, you can explore the different yoga styles, but during your initial practice, it would be better to stick to one style.

The other benefit of following one teacher is that the teacher will be able to get to know you and your body better and you will find yourself reaping the benefits.  The teacher will be able to provide you with adjustments your body needs and your close relationship will make it easier for you to ask any questions that you might have about the practice.

-  Commit yourself to attending at least 3 classes per week.  Once you start attending the classes regularly you will find yourself clearing your schedule to ensure that you make it to the classes.  

Being consistent in going to the classes also means that you will begin to have a consistent yoga practice.  You will find your body becoming stronger, toned and flexible and you will learn to calm your mind when you are stressed.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Feeling Safe In My Yoga Practice

Recently, I read this blog post  at Yoganonymous  which is about teachers keeping  students safe with hands-on assists.    It got me thinking about what other things teachers can do to make the students feel safe in their practice during the class.

As I have been practicing mostly with my teacher, Azmi Samdjaga during my first five years of practice, I have always felt safe in his class.   I not only felt safe during his hands-on assists  as he knows my body very well but also whenever  I am in his class.   Azmi always tell us to respect our body and to know our limitations and have the humility to go into child pose whenever we feel the need to.    He always shows us the techniques to go into the poses and allows us to do a variation if we are not able to do the advanced version of the pose.

Ever since joining Chi Fitness last year, I have been practicing with more teachers and there have been times, I do not feel safe in my yoga practice during the class.    Sometimes we are asked to do a challenging pose and although I am not comfortable doing the pose, I had let my ego took over and tried to do the pose.    I have also been given hands-on assists that had me asking the teacher to stop. 

With the above experiences in mind, I would like to list down below some suggestions to teachers on what they can to do to make students feel safe in their practice during the class.
  • Please check by asking the students how long they have been practicing before the class.  If the majority of the students are new practitioners (I do not like to use the word  beginners  as all of us are beginners in our own way), please do not do a class with a lot of advanced poses.    
  • Please do not assume that every student has the flexibility to do the pose.  You need to show the variation of the pose so that students know what they should do if they can’t do the more difficult one. 
  • Please do not ask students to go into pose after pose after pose and tell us that if we are not able to do the next pose, just stay in the first pose.    It is like challenging our ego and chances are some of us might just hurt ourselves trying to go into a pose that we have never done before. 
  • Please tell us the techniques to go into the pose instead of just demonstrating the pose.
  • Please breathe with us when you give us hands-on assists.  If you just pull us into the pose without warning, you might just have a student screaming his or her head off.

Finally, I would like to share what Joey who is one of my teachers at Chi, always says to us during her class which makes me feel safe in her class.

“This is your practice...I am here just to guide you…listen to your body and let it tell you what it needs."

And we all need these in our practice as teachers and students.