|On the rare occasion that I attend a public vinyasa class, I am never surprised about one thing: the teacher throwing poses into the sequence with little-to-no explanation or warm up. I usually hear an iteration of this:
“If ______ pose is in your practice, go ahead and come into it.”
Have you ever heard a teacher say something like this during class? Have you ever said something like this while teaching? Yea, me too. And if you follow me on social media, you know that I’ve been going off on what I call “THROW IN” poses. Check it out here, here, and here.
I used to be the throw-in pose teacher. I would throw in poses because I thought that’s what students wanted. I thought they wanted to do lots of challenging poses. I thought that challenging poses made a vinyasa class. Most of all, I was afraid that if I took the time to break down poses in detail, my students would be bored. They were there to flow, not listen to me teach in detail.
You know what I’d see happen? Maybe a few students who were more experienced would move into the pose. Others would look around confused and not sure if they should be following along. Many students would attempt the pose and struggle. It was a mess, and I created it. It’s a mess that I see often in vinyasa classes. Sometimes it’s because the teacher doesn’t know any better, and sometimes it’s because the teacher is giving into the pressure of what they think students want.
Eventually, I got fed up. There was so much talk about yoga injuries in the industry and how things needed to change. I wanted to be a part of the change. I wanted to follow my gut and teach in a more sustainable way. Hell, I wanted to actually TEACH instead of just telling students what to do.
I made the decision to teach my vinyasa classes my way. I was scared students would hate it. And guess what? Some of them did. I remember one woman leaving my class and walking up to the owner of the studio and asking which classes were the real vinyasa classes. I definitely lost some students.
But the truth was, I couldn’t worry about the few students who didn’t like my class. There are no less than 100 vinyasa classes within a 10 mile radius of their homes (seriously, there’s A LOT of yoga out there). Most of those classes are delivering the same old boring stuff and throwing in plenty of poses to keep their students happy. Good. Let them.
Instead of worrying about the students that left, I turned my focus to the students who were still coming to my classes and eager to learn.
The first time I stopped class to break down chaturanga, the students seemed kind of flabbergasted. I don’t think they ever had a teacher stop class to demonstrate a chaturanga and talk about what the shoulders should be doing in that pose. They were confused, but they watched and listened. I resisted the urge to throw in more poses and designed a flow around learning all about chaturanga, shoulder movement, wrist work, and anything else related to it. They worked hard that day, so it was still a challenging class, but they also LEARNED. Afterwards, one student told me that in all the years she had been going to yoga classes, no teacher had EVER actually taught her how to do that pose.
You know what happened next? I continued to teach my way and I gained a real following. Students began to see my value and seek me out. Not only were they learning, but I was able to differentiate myself from thousands of other yoga teachers in a very saturated market.
My journey is what inspired me to created my online workshop, “Backbending for People Who Suck at Backbends”. Backbends get thrown into sequences ALL THE TIME. I’m never surprised when students tell me that backbends hurt their low backs. They never learned how to actually do them. They never learned how to tell where their body is in space. They were never truly encouraged to do what’s best for their individual body.
This online workshop does ALL OF THIS and more. In it, I slowly and methodically lead you to dhanurasana, which is one of the most common throw in poses. This workshop is FULL of prep and awareness work that you can use in your classes with students at any level of experience.
Go ahead, give it a try! Don’t like it? I’ll refund you.
Love & Yoga,