I have been writing quite a bit lately about my class schedule issues. Now how about some real yoga stuff. Yesterday I was chatting with Jill, the yoga coordinator at Lifepower and within the discussion came up this conflict that we face in yoga these days between how much of yoga should focus on strictly the physical (asana) practice, and how much of the deeper practice should be included in classes. The deeper practice could include anything from breathing (pranayama), to chanting, to philosophical discussion, to concentration (dharana) or meditation (dhyana). So the question that I will pose is:
How much of a yoga class should be physical poses, and how much should be the other stuff, the deeper practice?As many of you who practice with me know, I always start my classes, all of them, regardless of format with some seated breathing. I always end my classes, regardless of format with savasana, seated breathing, and a chant or two. I have been to numerous classes, however that start in downward dog, and end without savasana. I don’t know if this is because the instructors don’t know how to chant, or don’t know any wisdom to impart on their student, or if they are just too lazy to do it.
I love the physical practice. The power and astanga classes that I teach can be extremely physically challenging. I have found that the same students who enjoy the more physically challenging practices many times are also interested in the chanting, philosophy, and the breathing. It can be hard at times to try and balance the needs of all the students in the practice. In many gym settings, it can be all about the physical. I am always saying that “The practice of yoga at its very essence is about the calming of the mind. This physical practice is just one small aspect of the practice. It is a tool to bring our body into a place of balance so that it will not distract us from working deeper on the quieting of the mind.” I usually do mention that I know many of the practitioners are there for the awesome abs, shoulder, and back that the regular practice of yoga will bring you.
As a yoga practitioner, I have always been fortunate to find instructors who nurtured not only my physical practice, but the deeper practice as well. I believe that the practice of yoga is personal, and each yogi has to find there own path. Some will chant, some will not. Some will meditate, some will not. As a yoga instructor, I am just going to present not only the asana practice to my students, but aspects of these deeper yoga teachings as well. I feel it is my responsibility to bring them as much information as I can to help them along their yoga path.