Making connections, on and off the yoga mat

The inspiration for this blog post

Chris went to a yoga class at one of The Hague’s yoga places last week. The teacher simply walked in and started teaching. He had not asked Chris’ name, or if he had practiced yoga before.

Chris has been practicing yoga since 1975. He can quite easily follow each yoga class, no matter the context of the class. He knows very well how to practice and take care of his body. His level of experience allows him to recognize his limitations while accessing his possibilities. For that he doesn’t need the support of an external teacher.

Do you wonder why he goes to a public yoga class then? Simply because Chris and I are curious about how things work in other studios. We are curious about if and how teachers connect with the students who attend their class. We are interested in the class context they offer, i.e. when you don’t know the students yoga background, if are they a beginner or an experienced practitioner.

How we do it

At Yogashala, Chris and I know all our students. We welcome newcomers personally, shake hands and show them around while explaining the few practical things one needs to know. It is important for us to know whether or not they have practiced yoga before and if they suffer from physical discomfort. We then explain in headlines what the class context will be, what our teachings are based on and advice them to take it easy. If someone has previous yoga experiences, I sometimes honestly add that an open mind might be a good starting point.

Connecting with all students

Having had at least that little contact with a newcomer I then can connect with them. In response to that I can integrate them in the class and support them with my carefully chosen instructions when they access movements and postures. When I teach I very much hope that everybody is most comfortable in the class I offer. The responsibility for that is on my side mostly. It highly depends on the class context that unfolds with the instructions I choose, resulting in a progressive teaching.

I also prefer knowing everybody’s name. It enables me to address personal adjustments verbally, especially when a situation that doesn’t allow a hands-on adjustment.

Everybody once was the new student

I also trust that everybody present and familiar with my classes is aware that once they were the new student. So that they consciously, or unconsciously, make an effort to connect with a new student as well, even though it most probably will be non-verbally. So that the new students feels welcome and warmly invited to reap the fruits of yoga practice, even in their first class at Yogashala!

Last but not least: the heart and soul connection

With each class I teach I consciously reach out for people’s body and mind. I am also reaching out for their heart and soul. I love connecting with people on the level of the heart and the soul, and I love to give all students an experience that counterbalances what we often forget in daily live: that we are all connected with each other and that making connections can help us feeling whole again when it is heart-felt and soul-ful. We then might start healing, just as Mother Nature intends us to do. Healing is re-connecting, and yoga holds the keys for healing…