Published on August 21st, 2017 | by Catherine Tingey0
Yoga is for Every BODY
I truly believe this.
There is no greater joy in my job than introducing yoga to students who might never step into a yoga studio…for whatever reason…self-consciousness, injury, time and travel constraints, etc.
I love dispelling yoga stereotypes that one must wear certain clothes, eat certain foods and look a certain way in order for yoga to ‘work’, or even for yoga to be appealing.
Yoga philosophy (not asana) is an ancient system – one that preceded Instagram – and will hopefully prevail into a future that self-corrects from our modern obsession with surface and consumption.
It’s important to remember that the deepest yoga lies within; and each moment spent on (or off) your mat practicing your yoga, cultivates this inner sanctuary. This is yoga. A union that goes beyond form and physicality; a synchronicity of body, mind and spirit.
The greatest challenges for me as a private yoga teacher (and also greatest rewards) come from modifying and expanding on my classical training to customize yoga for my clients.
I once had a client who wanted a sweaty, vinyasa-style practice to prepare for her wedding and lose weight. She found group classes aggravated her low back pain, and moved at a pace she couldn’t follow without injury.
In working with her I quickly learned that she hated several poses, but felt she had to do them despite intuitively sensing they were unsafe. Case in point–forward bends. She had very large breasts and when hinging from the waist in Uttanasana, her chest restricted her airway and she could not breathe! She’d rise from sun salutations red in the face and gasping for air, but she’d done this for years in group classes simply because she wanted to follow along. (I understand this; it took me about 20 years of practice before I could do my own thing in a group class, truly listening to my body and what it wanted that day.)
We customized the practice so that she never lowered below Ardha Uttansana in her Sun Salutes and she was a much happier yogini.
If I have any gripe about most yoga teacher trainings it’s that that they teach to a generic body type with no injuries and capable of doing most things. This body type has average everything: limb length, flexibility, height, chest size, etc. If you plan on teaching a youthful, fit demographic, this training will serve you.
But as soon as you take yoga out into the general population –people who’d never enter a yoga studio –you’ll meet a plethora of body types, and body challenges.
Navigating these waters requires a sensitivity that is anything but dogmatic–don’t teach the aesthetics of yoga, please. Teach from a compassionate heart, and watch your students so, so closely. These qualities will make your students feel seen and in turn, you become a more effective teacher.
If you’re contemplating a change in your life and curious about yoga, but intimidated about going to a group class, consider working with a private yoga instructor. Make sure you find someone skilled at working with beginners, ideally with at least 10+ years of yoga practice. Don’t allow the public face of yoga in the media to dissuade you from trying yoga out.
As always, peacefully,