As a yoga teacher who has been teaching for over 20 years, it can sometimes be difficult to step back and describe what my teaching style is because to me it’s ‘just teaching’. I’m just sharing something with others that has (and continues to) changed my life. Finding a way to pigeonhole myself as a particular kind of teacher remains a mystery to me, and I think that’s a good thing.
With this in mind then, I choose to describe my teaching via the comments of my students, and the comment I hear most often is this:
‘It’s so nice to actually be taught how to do postures properly’.
It’s strange that a notable aspect of teaching yoga these days should be ‘teaching how to do a pose properly, but in these times of flashy Instagram yoga poses (headstand at the edge of a cliff overlooking the sea anyone)? and quick fix, sweaty flow, ‘get your yoga on’ classes, the emphasis on learning the ‘boring details’ has taken a backseat to experiencing a buzz of some sort. And to be clear, I’m not judging that at all, because in this testing time we find ourselves in, a quick ‘yoga fix’ might be the only thing keeping some people sane, but let’s not forget that the purpose of yogāsana practice is not simply to experience a temporary escape from our troubles (great though that is)!
The purpose of a hatha yoga practise is to gradually refine our discernment of what is ‘Real’ from the ‘Unreal’. It is a perpetual journey from the gross to the subtle as one travels from the external world to the internal world. Your body is the bridge between these two worlds and although you may not complete the journey in this lifetime or indeed have any desire to do so, one should at least be walking in the right direction. The role of the teacher then, is to guide the student along that path.
The vehicle you travel in is your body. The Āsana are the sacred sites you visit along the way, they are like ‘sacred junctions’. In this regard they should be approached with respect and precision and teaching the poses with precision is a show of respect to my students.