I asked the students to go out and take some classes out in the community and report upon their experiences, both positive and negative. Here is one student’s reflections on an ineffective class. Hopefully, this example will serve both yoga students and teachers alike:
As part of this exercise, I attended a vinyasa flow class. Normally I am drawn to vinyasa classes however this class turned into a cautionary tale rather than a source of enrichment. To me, it seemed like an ineffective class.
Observation number one. Upon retrospect, the teacher clearly overestimated the ability of the students, the first step of an ineffective class. Almost everyone in the room was over fifty and new to yoga. The substitute teacher was young and looked pretty fit. I got the sense that he assumed everyone was more or less in the same shape as they were. However, this was not to be the case. I’m glad everyone got out of there alive.
Secondly, there really was no warm-up. This was my next clue this would be an ineffective class. He started us in a standing position and he had us in warrior three within the first five poses. Personally, I need time to work up to a posture like that. Apparently, I was not the only one. I saw others struggling as well. Their version of warrior three resembled a very crude version of someone partially hunched over to lift up a wide box while standing on one leg. It was not pretty.
“Warrior three resembled a very crude version of someone partially hunched over to lift up a wide box while standing on one leg.”
Thirdly, the pace of the class was very fast. I barely had time to finish half of an inhale before we were onto the next exhale or chaturanga. Why are we in such a hurry? The class was 60 minutes long regardless of how many poses you can pack into it. I think it is more important to spend quality time in each of the poses than racing to try and do as many as possible. Less is more.
Fourthly, the sequence was needlessly complicated. At one point, we did 14 successive postures on one side before only doing 12 on the second side. (I counted). It’s not surprising that the teacher missed a few poses on the second side given how complex the sequence was.
Like going as fast as possible (point number three) I’m not sure what the advantage is of doing so many poses on one side? I thought it made for an ineffective class. As a student, it felt like trying to digest 14 (or 12) different kinds of food all at once. Lemons, bulger, ham, cream cheese…. You get the point. I literally had a stomach ache. Choreography took precedence over quality.
“Choreography took precedence over quality.”
As a prospective teacher, I learned a lot from going to this class. When it’s my turn to stand in front of the room, I will keep everyone safe with the following. Firstly, tune into the level and needs of the students. Secondly, make time for a sufficient warm-up. Thirdly, move at a manageable pace. Finally, emphasize the quality of a sequence rather than its complexity.