Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Sharing Sequences

The sequences that actually get taught in class are almost always the result of who shows up. This includes me and my latest curiosities within my life and practice as well as all the practitioners. It is a familiar story among teachers to arrive at class with an idea of what you might do, only to be greeted with a set of circumstances that require the ability to spontaneously pull something totally new and unique together. But spontaneity takes practice and the willingness to not know what is going to happen.

When I first started teaching, I was lucky enough to be teaching Bikram in a Christina McCleod's Yoga Source in Palo Alto. I was able to practice leading people through the bends and twists without the additional burden of creating the sequence. Slowly, however, I began to tweak the postures and offer my own take. I started to notice injuries and have ideas about how to modify the shapes. I was also starting to be exposed to other forms of yoga and I eventually took the leap and started my own vinyasa classes.

At the time, I had a full time job and was teaching on the side. But I would spend hours at my "real job" preparing for my yoga classes, writing out sequences and talking them through in my head. When I got to the class, I had my sequences down. And of course, they would get tweaked a little, but not much. I relied on my ability to flow the group though the postures at a pace that would leave almost no time for questions. While ultimately limiting for me, this way of teaching allowed me to develop sequences that I still sometimes pull out. Like favorite recipes, it is super helpful to have reliable combinations to fall back on.

It was not until I moved to Ojai and began teaching full time that I started to really notice the actual needs of the community coming to class. My ability to weave and spin a creative vinyasa sequence became less interesting as exploring the possibility of actually teaching someone how to feel Yoga.

I started a class called 'Stiff White Guys Yoga' that drew a group that required that I create and learn an entirely new approach. I now allow my teaching to be awkward and exploring. Sometimes the sequence is clumsy. Sometimes brilliant and inspired. I seem to work in 3 week arcs. Meaning, I will hone in on idea, a technique, or theme and explore it across my classes in different directions.

In starting this particular blog, it is my intention to practice sharing these sequences. To share the creative process that is not always "successful", but always keeps the teaching fresh and new.


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