For the past few years, I’ve been learning from my yoga teaching experiences as well as my own mistakes. As a yoga instructor / therapist, you never know how your programs will be received or what will strike a chord. There is no bulletproof recipe to follow because everything is dependent on the students in the class. In advance, I never knew who will sign up and enter the studio. Here is my reflection of WHAT I HAVE LEARNED BY TEACHING HATHA STRETCH.
AGE DIFFERENCES AND WESTERNIZED YOGA
Every time I open my program, I face same challenge: differences in age, mobility, and yoga experience, if any. I must admit, it is not easy to organize first class in a range of two-decade age difference, from 45 to 75+. I wish it would be possible to have yoga assessment done ahead.
I have to consider: one person has never done yoga before but has heard that it is “good for you,” another has done some yoga in the past but believes that “their mobility is not the same,” and the third enjoys only reading yoga magazines and watching Instagram clips. On top of that, a few adults 60 and older have recently returned from the hospital and can easily become dizzy, going up and down from the floor.
The magic of creating teaching modalities, starts during my quiet group assessment to determine – “what is the important for highest good of all/ class.” This yoga blend is all on me. In no time, I must assess and adjust accordingly, preferably with a smile on my face.
- I’ve learned to accept that my classes aren’t for everyone. I know I can help a lot of people who came with curious mind and willingness to help themselves.
LIMITED KNOWLEDGE OF TRUE YOGA.
At first, almost no one in my HATHA Stretch classes are aware of the full spectrum of yoga – the eight limbs of yoga- It’s not their fault! The majority of people have been conditioned by westernized Yoga lifestyle images, which are so popular everywhere: everyone is thin, young, and flexible, wearing skinny clothes, looking healthy and fit, and ‘life is perfect!’ Who wouldn’t want to own it? For many years, commercial media has sold this illusion to our western minds.
- I learned to expect chaos from unrealistic expectations and goals. At the start of class, I bring my yoga teaching concept to the class’s attention with a reality check: micro lecture/motivation, demo, and active participation with a variety of tools and props.
CLASSIC POSE FIRST, VARIATIONS LATER ON
Pose phenomena have arrived. People refused to learn classical poses if variations of poses came first. “It’s so difficult,” they say. I encourage them to try it first to get a feel for it, then choose an engagement / variation later on. “Our bodies are our very first yoga prop!” Many of them discovered that “they are as strong as they thought they would be.”
- I learned to first demonstrate a classic pose and then, and only then, a pose variation.
MOMENTS OF RELEASE/ REFLECTIONS
Moments of release can take various forms if your yoga practice. People are unable to articulate “what just occurred?” For years they were guided “not to speak about their feelings”, or “speak only when they are asked”. They have been naturally lost in the moment at first, and find it difficult to articulate. Nevertheless, after a while, they yearn for more to experience. I’ve enjoyed being a witness to their inner journey. When it finally kicks in, self-regulation is an amazing process!
- I learned how to ‘hold a mirror in front of them’ (metaphor) so they can see a quick flash of themselves becoming.
“The Evolution of My Yoga Teaching Is a Never-Ending Journey.”
THE MORE YOU EXPERIENCE, THE MORE YOU WANT TO KNOW
The more my Active, Smart, Curious Yoga Boomer Practitioners experience the healing power of yoga, the more they want to know. The problem for the Yoga Boomer generation is that we (the majority of us) did not have access to yoga studios and wellness programs that young adults now have. We would have loved to have had such a diverse range of options available, but time was not on our side.
- As a result, I learned to improve my teaching by including more handouts, links to sutras, and yoga videos to assist my students in their quest for yoga wisdom. As a bonus of working self-care at home.
reading my notes and feedbacks from 2 – 3 years ago, I recognized some patterns. To my surprise, it is not a yoga modality, guidance, or heart-pounding music, as well as body anatomy knowledge which my students remember the most. Something else was marked 8/10 — my teaching approach and mood in class. They appreciated being “seen and heard,” and they absolutely adored a moment when I played zodiac understanding of the universe with them through yoga eyes. During these classes my joy and playfulness was transcend, as per feedback.
- What I’m learning now is the most important teacher’s lesson that I couldn’t see before. It is emotional intelligence – body language that can be stimulated by yoga practice/ interaction. The emotional body can be activated by full body stimuli interactions by stretch, movement and play.
When it came down to it, I said “yes” to my new challenge inspired by hatha class questions, and in summer 2023, I will offer a yoga workshop as part of yoga learning for ever-young yoga seekers called “The Science of Healthy Stretching.”
Registration for the next class, Hatha Stretch, Spring 2023
is open at Oak Bay Monterey, Victoria – March 6, Mondays at 6PM.
“Please come as you are!“
Veronika Prielozna, MA, C – (IAYT), RYT 500 is a certified yoga educator/ therapist. She uses her passion for yoga wellness and healing arts to design wellness programs for healing individuals /communities to lead more balance life.