So...there was a time... back in NYC, when I spent an average of 5 hours a day in yoga class. About 3 classes of yoga, every day. It was awesome, I learned a TON, and I got really good at it. I practiced all different types of yoga- Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Hatha, Iyengar, and Kundalini, I had excellent, well-renowned teachers, and it was the perfect practice for me at the time. A few years later, I completed a yoga teacher-training program in Paris, France, and began my teaching “career” and taught yoga in NYC, Singapore, Thailand, Australia, and Hawaii. All throughout my teaching, I went to as many classes as I could. I loved to see how other teacher’s taught, and get more and more knowledge of yoga.
I clearly remember living in Ko Samui, Thailand and talking with my fellow teachers at the yoga studio where we all worked. I was slightly “offended”, because my friend Joel (a fellow yoga teacher) had never taken my class despite my invitations, yet I had taken his class several times. His answer was simple, “I don’t take yoga classes”. I thought he was crazy. That seemed ridiculous to me at the time, although now I completely resonate with that response!
At a certain point, going to classes may no longer elevate your practice. There can be a time when doing it on your own is much more powerful and effective. For example, maybe what your body needs is some gentle stretches, a few sun salutations, and a 5-minute headstand (that’s what my body usually needs! Haha) If you’re doing your own practice, then Boom!, 15 minutes later and you’re good to go. Or... you could get dressed up in your perfect and flattering yoga outfit, pack your high-tech mat in it’s cute mat bag, get your anti-slip, anti-sweat mat cover, your trendy water bottle and any other gear your need and then commute to a class where you will of course get a well-rounded workout and no-doubt learn something, but it creates a lot of EXTERNAL energy where yoga is a traditionally very inward practice. Plus, what if the teacher that day decides to focus on standing poses and arm balances, when what you really need is quite the opposite?
As a person who used to be completely wired for external everything, I now realize one profound truth: It is EASIER to go to a yoga class than to have the inner-awareness and discipline to do it yourself, without an external guide. I almost always leave every yoga class I go to now slightly disappointed, knowing it was a big commotion of external energy when what I truly needed was to simply tune in to my body and my spirit. SO, that’s why I stopped, for the most part, going to yoga classes, and started a new level of “tuning in” to myself and nurturing my body deeply by doing exactly what I need.
What’s interesting is that I find it is quite the opposite with dancing. I love taking dance classes, despite taking countless dance classes over my lifetime. Having a big open studio, a proper dance floor, and a great teacher to create combinations to challenge both body and mind is something I’ve found lacking when I try to recreate that experience at home. Perhaps that’s because dance is traditionally an externally-based art form, while yoga is an internal practice of self-awareness.
But PLEASE, if you’re reading this and are new to yoga, remember that I have probably taken 1000+ yoga classes in my life, and each and every class, and each and every teacher is inside of me! They are all a part of who I am now! If you’re new to all of this, PLEASE go to class! That’s not the message of this blog. The message, in my silly old English, is:
Go inside, and ye shall know the truth of what thy body needs :0)