• karenwhitfieldyoga

Lockdown teaching, lockdown learning

As the weeks have been passing I have been wondering how and when I will be able to resume teaching. It feels like it will not be possible to teach 1:1 in the way I have been taught for a long time yet. Without the ability to observe a student in person I am extremely limited in what I can offer: It is currently impossible for me to start work with new students, although I have been enjoying keeping in touch with established students via video call and telephone review sessions. Based on a discussion of how their practice is going, how it is fitting into their current routine and how they are managing in a more general sense I can offer both technical advice for individual postures and provide options for modifying their practice in response to the upheaval due to the pandemic.

As teachers everywhere struggle to maintain their profession there has been a huge scramble to get content online, and now to offer classes outside. Who knows when people will be able to return to either studios or individual teaching spaces? There are definitely advantages to having such a wealth of options available now online; people are able to explore different approaches to Yoga, at home and at a time that suits them, rather than being locked into a specific class schedule. However there is also so much choice that it can be difficult to work out what approach or class is best for you. In the longer term the ease of switching from class to class, teacher to teacher can feed a need for a continuous variety of Yoga ‘experiences’: of breadth rather than depth.

So how is a Personal Yoga practice different to doing an online class at home?

The Art of Personal Yoga is in depth rather than breadth. Through 1:1 lessons we develop a unique daily practice tailored to your needs and working towards your goals. My role as a teacher is to provide you with skills that you can use without me being there all the time. The practice is there for you to use, not with someone talking you through it: directing you, keeping you focussed and providing corrections every time; but for you to take away and work on yourself in between our lessons. We develop the practice gradually, step by step, allowing us to respond to changes or problems as they appear, to step forwards or backwards as needed. Through this process of focussed and consistent practice we can better observe change in ourselves.

In this way the teacher aims to empower the student towards independence rather than dependence; to feel confident in guiding or adapting their own practice during periods where they are unable to access lessons. This is where Personal Yoga can fill a deep need for us to become more self-sufficient in these uncertain and unpredictable times.

Personal Yoga requires the direct interaction between student and teacher and requires a level of observation that simply isn’t possible over the internet. I am not going to be offering online lessons, although I am here for any questions you may have and also can offer online or telephone consultations if you would like to discuss setting up a Personal practice once lessons become feasible again. In the mean time I encourage you to explore the wealth of material that is out there; choose something short and simple to start, especially if you intend to practice every day. Try to find and protect a regular space within your daily life for some sort of Personal practice, whether that be Yoga or anything else that lifts you up and supports you.

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