Friday, August 29, 2008

My philosophy and teaching style (part 3)

Students ask me, what kind of yoga do I teach. Perfectly innocent question nonetheless. Let me see how I can answer this booming question.

I don't have a particular style, in my humble opinion. I take what I have learnt in my own practice, and infuse into my teaching. When I teach I offer some insight to my students, and encourage them to explore it in their own way. I draw inspirations from daily life, so my classes are generally different from day to day. Like the other day I was inspired by how smells play such an important role in life; case in point, about 70% of clinically depressed people lose their sense of smell, and those who start losing their sense of smell could be facing depression. Depression is a problem close to heart as I was once there a long time ago, so that day I did a class, with imagination of scents, smells and memories. Not your typical yoga class right? That's me. I also use methods from The Nia Technique, Franklin Method, plus tonnes of other yoga styles, I take what I think works for the moment, and use it. I do a fusion of things.

What's the best way to start your yoga practice?

As Richard Freeman puts it simply, in his cd, The Yoga Matrix, yoga starts with listening...he simply says start by listening, as listening creates space, space for the inner self to grow. Yogis who have been practising, will turn their focus inwards to their breathing, as I always stress in class. Listen to your breathing. Let the ears be the extension of your breath. The only"problem" is with new students, listening to their breathing is boring. They get BORED, and it's normal, because our mind is like a monkey, always hopping from one thought to another, either obsessed with the past or the future, never in the present. Because in the present, there is no-mind, only consciousness.

Why don't I do yoga along with class?

If I indulged myself in practicing with the class, I wouldn't have time to look out for corrections and really give you the most out of your practice, now would I?

How come I don't do anymore "showy" postures or difficult ones in gym yoga classes?

I prefer not to anymore because it gives you the wrong idea about yoga, and I don't do it to impress. I don't need to sell myself like that. Lay man will struggle to squeeze themselves into postures their bodies are clearly not ready for, thus defeating the true purpose of learning yoga. Yoga in the classical terms was meant to divorce you from your false self, your attachments, not a union as so many people misunderstand. You have to understand that these so called advanced difficult postures arised only from a spontaneous combustion of prana in level 3-4 yogis with deep practice, thus the prana(inner energy) was moving their bodies into such contorted or extended positions, they only remained the observer in such a practice, as though they were separate from what was going around them. I don't teach the difficult postures, Ionly guide you into that direction so "they", come to you instead, then again, the debate is about what your personal goal is in yoga.

What's the best way to approach class?

Smile - as my lovely guru Adrian Cox puts it, as we engage our Shambavi mudra. End of the day, we have a good laugh with our practice. Light hearted and seriously playful and playfully serious. That's how I like to put it.