Hatha Yoga is essentially a self-practice, so as teachers, we are being most direct and to the point when we create opportunities in our classes for students to explore for themselves and experience self-connection and direction. This means getting them to make their own decisions about such things as how long to stay in a pose, how to respond to non-specific movement queues, such as "move your spine like a snake" or invitations to "make the movement your own, it doesn't matter if it looks the same or different as anyone else". We could even let them to know that the standard alignment for poses which is usually recited by teachers is just a template and that the ease, stability, concentration, & relaxation in a pose trumps specific alignments. Trumps, get it? I don't either but man, the US election is everywhere I look on the internet these days!
One of my favorite ways to set up this kind of learning experience is to lead a vinyasa sequence of about 3-5 poses. Here's a pretty standard one many teachers use.
Here's what to do...
1. If necessary demonstrate or explain the sequence step by step first, or lead the sequence slowly with key points of each pose in as few words as possible.
2. Lead the class through the sequence as vinyasa 3-5 times, conveying rhythm in the flow by the pace and rhythm of your cues and breathing in and out of each pose.
...Exhale, step forward
Inhale, Warrior I
Exhale, Warrior II
Inhale, Reverse Warrior (not shown, from Warrior II back hand down to the leg, other arm up)
Exhale, Side Angle
Inhale, Hands Down
Exhale, Step back to Plank & Down to Chaturanga
3. Repeat the sequence, now holding each position 3-5 breaths. Give additional cues and adjustments now and any insightful commentary relevant to what is being practiced(external or internal!) but as usual, use as few words as possible.
4. Now instruct the students to repeat the sequence on their own, with no queues. Tell them to relax more in each pose and breath deeply for as long as they feel able. Tell them when they are done to rest in Child's Pose, or Mountain Pose, or other asana depending on the direction you want to take. Tell them to focus on the sensations within.
In this format, any sequence of Asana can become a powerful entry into a flow state of concentration for the student, even if they walked into your class and had never performed a single yoga pose or that sequence. And, by the last round of practicing this sequence, they would be doing it completely on their own. Also, you will neatly have an opportunity to invest more into observing your students' practice since you don't need to talk or think about what to say, and as everyone knows...theres something magic about action in silence.
Silavadee is a classic sea side 5 resort on Koh Samui island, Thailand. It has a private beach and each room has a private pool. The rooms are all solid wood and have high pitched roofs. They have a rustic feel while being immaculate and spacious, including a very large bathroom and circular jacuzzi tub. It's a beautiful place.
My home and small yoga hall is right across the street and I recently had some private yoga sessions in Silavadee with two students from Moscow who had been practicing Iyengar yoga for the last 2 years. They were very enthusiastic practitioners and we made daily morning and evening sessions. I got to learn a few Russian words and had the pleasure of seeing a few breakthroughs in their practice. Some of the techniques I shared were new for them and we also worked the simple classic poses to their potential, holding until we couldn't, whether it be Warrior III or the meditation posture at the end of each class after pranayama.
If you are staying at Silavadee or just on Koh Samui, you could make your vacation a great way to start yoga or enrich your practice with my classes to get more context, knowledge, and techniques for yoga and wellness. I've been teaching Yoga for over 7 years now and my work has been with all kinds of people. I've worked with thousands of beginners, people looking for how to lose weight and get fit again at detox fasting retreats, children of all ages, people from nearly every major religious background, christians, muslims, jews, buddhist, and taoist...people in their 60's and 70's of age with decreased mobility. I've also trained teachers and other adept practitioners...You can learn ways to expand your perception of your life, improve the health and functionality of your body through smart training with yoga anatomy knowledge, access new poses and ways of being, and how to relax and meditate more simply. It's never too late!
You can book or inquire about a session of Sajeeva Yoga with George at the Baan Geom page. Have a great time on Koh Samui and maybe see you for some sun and yoga! Look at these beautiful rooms at Silavadee Pool Resort. It's a magical place for practicing with the sunrise or under the stars on those decks.
George is the founder of Sajeeva Yoga School, and a practitioner and teacher on the journey of exploring life, truth, purpose, and
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