Thursday, 20 January 2011

Back on the (teaching) mat.

Returning to teaching a yoga class after a break is an interesting exercise. I am relief teaching for a friend who is away in the UK. The class is Over 55s and Beginners. The first time I took the class last week, I went very softly, a sort of diagnostic to see the level of fitness and flexibility (and sense of humour - which turned out to be good). The second class I went a bit harder and we worked through Suraya Namaskar and with variations. The students seemed to enjoy it and I certainly did.

My colleague Bobi was in the class and it is always a buzz to have another yoga teacher in the hall. Not all the students were over 55 and there were a couple of beginners so that gave me a chance to work the structure of each asana very thoroughly. The foundation of each asana needs to be as precise as possible within the physical limitations of the student. I believe that Suraya Namaskar is one of the best sequences to teach beginners. It is one of the first that I learned so that probably colours my opinion. I have a number of 'add-ons' to the sequence that people enjoy; these include a balance, a twist, moving into a revolved trikonasana (from the final lunge) and so on. I also gave a couple of alternative movements to bhujangasana (Cobra) as some beginner students find it too challenging. From plank, the student moves into downward and upward cat: Marjaryasana (aka cat/cow) that replaces bhujangasana. Many benefits here, not the least is the weight-bearing on the long bones in the arms. This is so important as we age.

As in any yoga class I learn stuff so, what did I learn in this one? The first thing was the top I was wearing tends to slip down and expose my bra so I won't wear that one again. Secondly, the mosquitoes in the hall strike when you're holding a pose and disrupt concentration. Third, I am still challenged by left and right and will have to remember to mark my hands and feet with an L and R - without falling into the trap of marking the wrong hand and foot (as somebody very close to me did once). Fourth, students often don't tell you about their limitations until the end of the class and there isn't much you can do about it then.

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