The way yoga started, to learn it you had to be welcomed under a teacher’s wing, you had to study it diligently over years, and to pick up “his subtle state, his yogic attainment,” you listened to his authority and observed him in his actions.
Now, the way most of us perceive learning yoga is as attending studio classes of different levels of difficulty, at least once a week, seeing progress over long periods of practicing on and off. With the demands of our lives now, it makes sense to enter the practice that way and keep on practicing like this alongside everything else we do with our lives. Some serious practitioners still keep this practice, especially with Ashtanga for example. Another way that people live this out now is through getting private instruction :)
Since I started my teaching practice over a year ago, I’ve taught quite a few private classes – for some reason I’ve attracted people needing private instruction and I’ve learned to stop questioning it and instead, work with it. (GO TO: Get private classes)
Based on observations, here are the reasons why people get private yoga classes and what makes them continue. On the other side, I’d also like to share why it’s such a pleasure to teach one-on-one’s like this.
What it looks like from the student side
- Learning the ropes cue by cue – One big benefit of a private yoga class is that instead of catering to a whole class of mixed-level students, the teacher is just teaching you and the people you’re practicing with. Therefore, the cues they say can be more detailed and more customized to what level you’re at. You get to learn the asanas cue by cue at a pace that fits you. At the same time, after working with you for a while and getting to know how you move and learn, the teacher will be able to know exactly how to make things more challenging for you and how to get you to that next level. For my classes, I even make a curriculum when applicable. With such targeted learning, your practice will definitely grow and since you are practicing in such an intimate setting, the progress will be completely visible. With continued classes, you may even gain enough confidence to hold your own in a public class :)
- Yoga for special needs – If you have anything you are undergoing, recovering from an injury, dealing with insomnia, working with depression, working with specific conditions or body types, and so on and so forth, a private class is perfect for you for the exact point stated above. Whatever you’re working with will mean that not all cues said in a public class will be applicable to you. In fact, following the cues of a public class may even be counterintuitive to what you should actually be doing. Or perhaps, you need a more specific category of asanas (aka, forward folds for people dealing with anxiety, special poses for prenatal and postnatal mothers). Yoga is for absolutely everyone and I think people often forget this because they think of what it would be like to practice in a public class and immediately get intimidated. In my experience, I’ve done yoga for runners, for those with scoliosis, for senior citizens, for a student who was partially deaf and had a learning disability, for those dealing with constant stress and so on.
- Yoga in comfort and the company of loved ones – Private instruction can be taken in a studio, or even in the comfort of your own home. What’s better, you can practice with friends and loved ones on a regular basis – and that’s such a beauty to see ♥ In one of my classes, it started with a mom and her daughter, then it became the mom and her sisters, the mom, sisters and family friends, and eventually including the grandchildren. All you need is a space in your home. (READ: #Yogahack: Creating ‘space’ outside a yoga studio)
What it looks like from the teacher’s side
Most of you probably read this blog entry for the information above but just in case you want to read more, I’d also like to share what private classes are from the teacher’s side.
First of all, we recognize that you are giving us a lot of trust. And we are so grateful ♥
Thank you for welcoming us into your homes, trusting us with your loved ones, forming relationships with us, and trusting yourself with us. When I truly think about how much underlying trust and intimacy it truly takes to study with a private teacher over months and even years, I get overwhelmed with gratitude and I feel lucky to have this responsibility.
In public classes, especially if these are huge classes, sometimes teaching can almost feel like a performance or a speech with movement. The work comes in keeping the energy alive and holding space for a big group – but everyone in the room helps with that.
In a private class, I feel like the students are more open and bare – this makes the task of holding space a bit more precious and significant, because they let out or show more than they would if they were in a room with 10 other people. You see them at the start of the day or at the end of their day – and they come as they are without having to pretend for a group of people they don’t know. Often, classes begin and end with long conversations. Now you know why I’m saying thank you for the trust :)
One of my most memorable students and my most memorable class out of all the classes I’ve taught so far is with a young man who I was teaching for almost half a year. He was partially deaf and he had a learning disability. He was very shy and it was hard to form a connection with him at the start, all I could read were his movements and his moods. The more I worked with him though, the more I felt he was understanding what was happening.
I can’t ever really know what he learned from me or what the effect of our classes was on him but, he has a had a huge effect on me. He was such a great teacher. With him I learned how to teach with full attention, presence, and patience. With him, I learned to love teaching – even without the glory of getting positive feedback from a student, and seeing them glow with energy. With him it slowly become more and more clear in my head that my calling was to share my practice with those who needed it and specifically, those who needed extra care learning it. With him, I realized that teaching yoga is a fully valid life calling and again, I am so so grateful ♥