Well, what a trip it has been. I am officially done with my teaching and feeling a bit tired as well as inspired by the different cultures, the unique food and all the amazing people I had a chance to visit with, practice with and teach.
I had a great time in Singapore with the group there. Many of the students started a 200-hour program almost a year ago with me and Noah Maze. And many of the students were new to the group. We had an incredible mix of experience, ability, personality and nationality yet I have to say that the group formed one of the most profound and cohesive bonds I have witnessed in quite some time.
I emphasized sequencing strategies in my teaching work and while I think people received a lot of practical information about creating sequences and intelligently crafting yoga practice and classes, the overwhelming feedback during the closing circle was how supportive the group was and how powerful it was to be in community together. That was very meaningful for me. I am such a dynamic blend of technician and athlete as a teacher and practitioner but when you get down to where my values are closest to the bone, I am very much a creature of community.
And as far as that is concerned I am a visionary, an idealist as well as a pragmatic realist. As much as I am fed by community, I am challenged by it. As much as I love to be with people I am, in many ways, an introvert and I recharge more alone than I do in a group. And as much as I believe we need community to grow and feel fulfilled in our humanity, I am well aware of how difficult it is to keep a community healthy and vital. The incredible pulse of autonomy and belonging is such a razor's edge and perhaps one of the most recurring themes in both my personal life and professional life. Obviously, these ideas could fill a book, not just a blog entry so more on all that for another time.
At any rate, the week was full and very rewarding for me to facilitate and to be part of.
Here are some scenes from the asana intensive.
After over a week in Singapore, Kelly and I came to Kuala Lampur, Malaysia for a Walking the Path of Practice Intensive. We did 3-days of advanced asana practice together which was really fun. (And really intense!) When Foo, my host, picked me up from the airport he gave me the run-down on the psychology of the average Malaysian student that he teaches: They like to practice advanced postures and try hard things and even if they can't do them, they enjoy the challenge. Also, these students fall into the "Athlete" category of yoga practitioners and would rather do asana than talk about it and like to learn technique to the degree it improves their postures but not just for analysis or knowledge. On top of that, the average Malaysian student is both humble and ambitious and more-than-a-little-shy at first.
Well, the students could certainly bend and they did seem to love to work hard, so I combed the book for some obscure advanced postures as well as some tried-and-true familiar poses. We went deep into the forward bends, the back bends and spent a lot of time on arm balances. We had a great time, the student's sincerity and kindness was touching and I think the practice-based format was great for their psychology and disposition.
I could write an entire book on teaching strategies and my reflections on how many ways there are to effectively teach yoga to different people. For some people a lot of explanation is needed. For other folks, lots of demonstration gets the job done. For many people ongoing repetition is the key, for others hand-son assistance, and so on and so on. Years and years ago, I thought that one way or one type of class format was best but I am so clear now that while certain approaches are best for certain people, no one way is best for everybody. And then, of course there is a whole book on the way the market is driving the teaching these days but that is way too big of a topic for this morning!
At any rate, we had a great time. The students were fun to be with and my muscles are sore from all of our work together! Now for a day of exploring...
Here are some scenes from the weekend. Enjoy.
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"There is a light that shines beyond all things on Earth, beyond us all, beyond the heaven, beyond the highest, the very highest heavens. This is the light that shines in our heart."