beginning, again

January 16, 2012 at 8:12 pm 3 comments

It is such fun to teach the Intro to Yoga class at Upper Valley Yoga.

Each session I try to have a new framework for myself to teach around, a new way to organize myself.  I’ve used all kinds of structure to help me: the koshas, the eight limbs of yoga, a breakdown of the yamas and niyamas.  This time, I decided to use a few concepts behind the yoga, picking simplicity as the theme for our first day.

Simple doesn’t come easy to me.  I have a tendency to talk a lot, and get excited about the details, which can be fun and helpful, and overwhelming.  But if my intro students are doing something that’s new to them, and probably hard for them (coming to yoga class for the first time), then I can push myself into unfamiliar territory, too.

So, I headed into class with my teaching notebook open to the intro week one page, with only a few reminders about simplicity, the simplest of cues for a few postures, and a lot of blank space.  A visual reminder to myself: keep it simple; leave lots of space.

We started seated, practicing sitting up tall, reaching the hands out in front and overhead while leaving a lot of space for the neck and the shoulders.  Then we kept both sides of the body long as we arced to one side and the other.  Then we twisted, keeping the seat on the floor as we revolved the belly, chest and head in one direction, and the other.  Finally, we folded forward, staying long and open and keeping ourselves from folding in half at the ribcage or shoulders.

We moved to standing and did all the same things, this time with our feet underneath us.  We moved into a couple of standing poses: Warrior two (take your feet wide, bend your right knee as deeply as you can); Tree (stand and balance on two feet, then pick up your left put, place it on your right leg wherever you can).

We moved slowly.  I left big spaces without words.  I looked at my blank page.  Held my tongue.  Breathed.

It was hard work for everyone.  Yoga is not easy.  Simple is not easy.

I’ll keep you posted on the themes we use each week and how it goes.

Meanwhile, perhaps try simplicity in some aspect of your own day, whether in your practice, your work, or wherever you think it may be helpful, and if you have a chance, post here to let me know how it goes.

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saying yes creating space

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Dena  |  January 17, 2012 at 3:14 pm

    Sharon: Lovely. Some days the simplest way is the best way.

  • 2. Nancy Duhaime  |  January 22, 2012 at 11:52 am

    Sharon, I’m so happy to hear of your simple approach to a beginner’s class. I was recently telling my Saturday class students about my wonderful experience during my winter vacation while taking a few of your classes.
    In turn, I have added a little more detail, a little more talk, cues for better alignment. These students have been taking yoga with me for years and they are ready for more details. In fact, when I cued gently pressing the four corners of the head into the mat while in bridge pose, (that I learned in one of your classes) many of them said, “I’ve never paid attention to that area before. I was always focused on my back and legs. I do feel more open.”
    In retrospect, this ‘simple’ cue brought new awareness and excitement into a routine class. I like the idea of the ‘simple’ approach, leaving space or perhaps helping students create space in their bodies and lives.
    Thanks for taking the time to post your thoughts. I always enjoy reading them. It’s the next best thing to being in your class.

    • 3. sharongc83  |  January 22, 2012 at 8:11 pm

      You are so sweet to write. So glad that you find my teaching helpful all the way in AK. Can’t wait to take a class with you, someday! S


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