Why I love teaching on line
Ive now been teaching on line for a full year. Through lockdowns, easing of lockdowns, opening up of studios, closing of studios, more lockdowns.. and on it goes. Its lovely to see friends and students in-person. But its equally lovely to practice yoga together on line.
This year I have continued to be, in equal measures, a student and a teacher. I have continued to teach my friends and my students and we have so enjoyed the benefits that our shared yin practice has brought us. It has carried us through difficult times, emotional upheavals, good days and bad days, and helped us to work through our health challenges.
I started up my online teaching - facebook based - as soon as the live classes stopped, in the certainty that now more than ever we would need social connection to cope with physical distancing. I so appreciate the students who took up the challenge and joined me week after week on facebook. I couldnt see anyone - its a strange feeling talking to an empty screen and just hoping that there is someone on the other end of the internet. I had no idea who was surfing through - other than the occasional appreciative word in the comment box after the class had ended. More recently I moved to zoom so we could see each other in miniature postage stamp images on my little ipad - but more importantly say hi and wish each other well.
We yinsters are an adaptable lot. One of the advantages of yin yoga for on line teaching is that there are relatively few poses, and once you find your "shape" you stay there for some minutes rather than just a few minutes. So as a teacher it is possible to explain and guide slowly and carefully - we have plenty of time. Whereas with a vinyasa or ashtanga class we are all having to rush from one flow series to another and everyone has to just hope they can keep up. Yin is described as "the quiet practice" by our founded Paul Grilley, and Im continually reminding students that we are being mindful - paying attention, on purpose and without judgement. So the student has a great deal more control over their practice, going deep into how this feels and does it feel right for my body. The on line classes give you more freedom to explore your own approach to your yoga when you are not surrounded by a class full of different body shapes experiencing different ways of getting into the pose - no judgement, comparison and plenty of quiet paying of attention on what is happening on the inside. And of course, in these difficult times, we are all trying to learn to let go of expectations, and live more in the moment, appreciate what we have (our amazing bodies) and get a little bit of respite from our worries through the experience of a meditative practice.
I have been contacted by a few people new to yoga who wanted to try out yin and have taken one-to-one classes on line. We have experimented with poses and sequences to help them explore what has brought them to a gentler style of yoga and get the benefits of moving deeper into their physical and emotional bodies. They say people come to yoga when they need it and are drawn to a style that provides them some balance - so a busy person needs a slower practice, and that goes for busy minds fully of worry, not just the active lifestyle. For so many of us our lives have slowed down, our rushing and travelling restricted but our minds are still racing ahead filled with all the troubling news and concerns for friends, family, society and self. Never have we needed to come back to ourselves through meditation more - to accept our fears and the illusion that we are in control! Spending an hour noticing your breath and breathing into the inner edges of your body as you hold shapes for four minutes at a time is a great way to dip into meditation without having to sit cross legged with your eyes closed trying in vain to "still your mind" wondering if "you are doing it right".
So I recommend on line classes of course. But not just as a teacher. As a student Ive been taking some recorded and live classes too. I am always wanting to deepen my knowledge. And what better time to do so then when we cannot get out and about. So I have spent some very productive weekends here and there with some of my favourite teachers picking up more ideas and reconnecting with other teachers and with experts in yoga nidra, meditation, restorative yoga, anatomy and pilates!
There is still so much to explore both out there and inside. As I always say to the students when I open the class - lets start by bringing our attention inwards. Each attentive breath brings us back into what is going on in body - and helps us let go of everything that is going on outside all around us. I hope you find the tools and teachers you need to help you through the coming days, weeks and months. And that we can meet again soon - on line or in person.