Why I Demo Less as a Yoga Teacher
I’ve been teaching predominantly Power Vinyasa Yoga for 8 years now, the last few years c20 classes weekly. Quite frankly my body is knackered with constant niggles and soreness.
There’s a part of me that’s astonished. I practice yoga! My body ‘should’ be at an optimum level at ALL times. But, it’s not.
Now, let’s put things into perspective. The regular yogi practices 1-2 times p/w, maybe 3 times if they can squeeze it in. The way their body is used is vastly different from mine. Oh, and did I mention the above doesn’t include my own practice c4 times p/w?
When I think about the amount of times I’m in and out of poses, the repetition of vinyasas; up down up down up down plus demonstrating whilst talking therefore not using the breath effectively; well, no wonder it is taking its toll. Anyone that teaches a physical practice will probably be nodding at this point.
So please, if you are a student of yoga and are reading this, yoga teachers are not perfect. Yes our bodies are strong and flexible BUT we are human with the same years of stress and trauma (mental and physical), falls, difficult births, the way we sit, accidents (car/bike/climbing/skiing) and so on and this builds up over years and years and years until we hit a blip. Our body breaks down a little and asks our inner compass to consider why. So we STOP and REEVALUATE.
‘If you listen to your body when it whispers you won’t have to hear it scream.’
So right now, I’m stopping, well, slowing down. I’m reevaluating and recognising, right now, my body needs more Yin than Yang, and that’s ok.
I began demo-ing less a few months back and the students understood. Most have been with me for years. I explained I want to teach for another 40 years but I won’t be able to if I keep using my body as much as I do.
The ways this can benefit the student is:
Keeping them present. When you have someone showing you what to do you, you can follow without really having to pay much attention. Having no visual means you have to listen, you have to be in the moment right now.
Body awareness. You find that you really need to pay attention to your body. Where does my foot go? Where do I place my hand? Is this my left or right side? Which way am I turning? This keeps you fully connected meaning you learn quicker and understand your body more effectively.
Dropping the ego. Without the demos, you let go of what a pose ‘should’ look like. The way a teacher looks in a pose is different to how you look, and your neighbour and everyone else in the class. It encourages you to notice how each pose feels not looks.
More guidance. When a teacher isn’t constantly demonstrating they are walking around and guiding you. They are more able to notice if you need assistance. I avoid strong adjustments now, more gentle, ‘how does this feel if I do this?’ Always tell the teacher if what they are doing/suggesting does not work for YOUR body. I can’t reiterate that enough. What is right/feels good for one body might feel completely different in yours. Remember, you are in charge of your body.
Any questions? Find me at liveyoga.co.uk/connect