After practicing yoga for over 17 years and teaching for almost 10 of those, I have modified my traditional hatha yoga training into a gentle practice based on my own intuitive needs for myself and my students.
I originally taught myself yoga from a book, then expanded my practice with a variety of different teachers, then went back to my own personal practice, before finally becoming a certified teacher. I had a thorough basis of ‘practice’ long before I became a teacher and that is what molded my philosophy as a teacher.
After becoming a certified teacher, I progressed to open a studio, became an Experienced-Registered Yoga Teacher (E-RYT) through Yoga Alliance, as well as a registered yoga school through them and designed a 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training based on their standards.
I have pushed myself as far as I can go, and then let it all go. I no longer teach or train through Yoga Alliance, however I still hold true those high standards that they taught me.
GENTLE HATHA YOGA
Since teaching others, I find classes become more and more gentle, not more and more ‘advanced’. I see what people need most is the relaxation, and the positive feedback from students over the years is often on the most gentle classes: that is when they leave feeling their best.
“Thank you for reminding me to breathe.”
“I sleep so much better now.”
“I didn’t know/think I could ever relax!”
“Wow I needed that.”
Every yoga class I teach follows the same layout: lay down to breath, gentle leg stretches and half-inversions from floor, seated for traditional postures, belly for breathing/backbends, standing concludes our postures, and we finish with a 10-15 minute relaxation (called sivasana).
This gives class the best flow, and allows the students to deepen their own experiences of each posture because they are able to get into the routine of each class. They get to know their own bodies by feeling how the same postures may feel different from week to week. There is an emphasis on body-awareness, noticing where we hold tension that day/moment, setting an intention to help it release and using our breathing to help focus the mind and relax the body.
Silence is an important aspect of our classes. Although we do have gentle background music, as a teacher I prefer to ‘say less’ so the student can ‘feel more’. I feel it is important that students reflect within their own bodies and comfort, and find ‘presence’ where they are instead of pushing through or forcing deeper postures. As a body relaxes, it naturally moves deeper into postures.
I rarely do hands-on adjustments unless there is critical danger occurring in a posture, and prefer to offer verbal cues to students. My number one priority for students is comfort and safety, so classes rarely move beyond ‘beginner friendly’ levels.
THE GENTLE WAY OF HATHA
Due to this modification of traditional hatha yoga, I have designed a personal yoga teacher training based on this gentle philosophy. Plans are in the works to start another training in January 2014 so if you have any questions or interest in this training please contact me directly.
The training is ideal for those interested in deepening their personal experience of yoga; knowledge of yoga asana, pranayama and philosophy; and the opportunity to share this gentle practice with others.
A yoga manual is currently in the works, and will be available summer 2014 (if all goes as planned)!