I'm not a fan of big parties. You know- group catch ups, music festivals, long, boozy lunches. Too many people, too much noise and not enough quality time with the ones I love. I do like the "vibe" of a tribe gathering- the buzz, the chaos, the connectivity. But I never really find out what's going on with anyone in those moments. And I leave feeling depleted rather than recharged. Give me a long brunch with a girlfriend any day, and I know my tank, my belly, and my heart will be full. There's something sacred in being with one person and spending enough time with to unravel and get to the bottom of how they are really feeling, what's really going on.
In the same way, I'm a big fan of one-to-one private yoga sessions. Here are a couple of reasons why.
Traditionally yoga was taught one-to-one. The student-teacher relationship is considered key in experiencing the state of yoga. It's why we have guides when we conquer tricky, foreign territory. It's why we have Siri- last Christmas my five year old shouted, as we got in the car post-epic-Westfield-Christmas-hell, "Siri, take us to the North Pole". Teachers are yoga's Siri and Waze. They help navigate the challenging path of practice that is yoga.
They shine a light into our darkest corners. The things we don't see. The things that are stopping us from moving forward in our practice and our life. We need someone to show us those, because self-reflection WITH humility and honesty - that stuff is friggin' hard. It's way easier to flee from it when there's no one holding us accountable. When the practice slides, or you're not standing in your integrity- the teacher is a gentle (or sometimes not-so-gentle) reminder of who you really are. And what work there is to be done.
They're there to hold space so we can take risks in the practice- physically, emotionally, spiritually. They've got our backs and they see the divine in us way before we have even glimpsed it. The teacher can see when we are ready and knows when steeping in consistency is required, or when it's time to step things up.
In the context of a private, it may purely be a deep investment in healing the physical body, finding my strength, nailing alignment or growing the asana practice. Or it may involve learning those things that can only be passed down by an experienced teacher- pranayama, mudras and meditation.
THE POWER OF TOUCH
There's something about the power of touch. Having been an ashtanga yogi for many years, and an 800 hour Jivamukti Teacher, I am a big believer in assists. I like getting my hands on students in group classes because I know first hand, the benefits of receiving physical information. The ashtanga practice is a daily practice. It is silent. The student is taught the poses and you are only given the next pose when the teacher feels you are ready. Then you come in and silently practice for about two hours every day. During that time, the teacher gives physical assists. Oftentimes it's impossible to see with your own eyes where in space your body is, and it's not until someone helps you FEEL that physically, that you're like "Whhhaaaat? I swear my hips are even!?" No, my friend, they're not- that's just an imbalance you're re-inforcing every time you practice, unless you feel it and change it. Once you feel it, it's easier to revisit correct alignment each time you're on the mat.
PREGNANCY, INJURY AND SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES
I believe pregnant women need to be very strong – physically and emotionally – for birth, the postnatal period and motherhood. Understanding how to practice safely and confidently and use the practice to get stronger in the pre and postnatal period is a passion area of mine. But it requires individual time and attention. Every pregnancy is different. Every woman is different. And so the practice has to be different for every person.
The same goes for injury or other special circumstances. I believe everyBODY can, and should practice yoga. But it doesn't always look like a handstand in fancy yoga clothes on a cliff face. After I had my son, for a long time it looked a lot more like like chanting and yoga nidra in a tracksuit at home.
If you have physical restriction due to disease, injury or the body just doin' it's natural ageing thing, the practice may need to be modified or simplified. All of us would benefit from spending some time understanding how we need to modify so we are getting stronger and healthier, not just "backing off" in order to protect our vulnerable spots.
We all have some physical story. Every single one of us. Especially as we get older. Your car won't go forever without more servicing as it gets older. The body is just a vehicle too. Work out how to tune it, depending on what the body needs. This old vehicle of mine is riddled with injury and post natal considerations that age and pregnancy have humbled. Am I limited in some ways now? Yes. Am I stronger in others? Hell yeah! Because I use my practice to be a strong and powerful and attentive as I can.
TO GET BEYOND THE PLATEAU
My teacher David Life used to say if you're not growing in your practice, get a new teacher. It his my sincere hope that my students eventually out-grow me. That they find another teacher who is more experienced and has what they need for the next step of the journey. That they become their own teacher. That their life becomes their greatest teacher. If you feel like you have a regular practice, but are plateauing in your practice, a private session or two can help give you the tools to step it up and get to the next level. It may be as simple as the way you are moving through your surya namaskar needs to change slightly. Or lifting your game in pranayama and meditation.
Whether building confidence and skills to start teaching as a newer teacher, or diving deeper into philosophy and theming, I love mentoring teachers at every level. Shining a light on blind spots, identifying strengths and discovering who you are as a teacher is an incredible journey, and a privilege to be part of. Whether its learning new assists, understanding principles of assisting, knowing how to modify for pregnant students, finding your niche as a teacher, everyone has different areas to dive into. Nothing brings me more joy than watching teachers bloom and truly take their seat as a teacher.
DEVELOPING A HOME PRACTICE
Getting the tapas and discipline to start a home practice is hard. But these days, as many of us travel for work and have various pressing commitments, finding an hour or two to get to a studio is the impossible dream. Developing a home specifically for you, and your needs, is liberating and empowering. We should all be doing at least a little home practice. The biggest obstacle is being confident in how to put a home practice together and having a plan for how to implement it. That's where guidance from a teacher can help.
So after a long hiatus away from teaching privates, for many reasons, I'm back. For teachers and students of all levels, hit me up with any questions- email@example.com.
See you on the mat, yogis.