Most of us are used to getting our yoga on in crowded studios, where sweat flicks onto us with every enthusiastic forward fold, and where we’ve learned to sweep arms up the center of our body, instead of out to the side, to avoid collisions with the fellow yogini a mat over. While sometimes it’s great to feel the power of a class breathing together, today I was able to experience something entirely different.
With the hot, hot temperatures in Portland, the hot yoga studio I work for has seen a pretty serious decline in numbers to our classes. This morning, in fact, those numbers declined to one. I waited till 9am, then 9:01 with hope that maybe just one other person would arrive, but alas. I had to lock the front doors, and walk into the studio, to teach one on one. At first I was a bit nervous, and I could sense the same feeling in my one student as well. But trying to ignore the lack of other bodies in the room wasn’t an option. This wasn’t going to be the class I had planned for.
Talking with my student, I was able to hear from her about where she was at in her yoga practice, and what she was wanting to work on. From there, we got our bodies warm, matching our breathing together. Without having to worry about the safety of other students, I could work with her and her body, and she was able to ask questions to help understand the postures. At times we laughed, breaking that unspoken silence between teachers and students that most yoga studios have.At the end of class, I thanked her, grateful for the experience, but I still wasn’t sure how she felt about receiving all the attention—maybe she would have rather been left alone to do her thing in the back. However, when she walked out, she thanked me, wholeheartedly, saying she had learned more in that one class than she had during the few years she had been practicing so far. Knowing that I am still learning and growing as a teacher– I was surprised! Did I really have that much to share? I think the lesson that comes is that as yoga teachers, even something we may have said or heard a thousand times, can make a real difference in someone’s practice. While it might not be our first time saying it, it can be the first time someone has heard it. In addition, I think it speaks to the power of private instruction. Historically, this is how yoga has been taught—one guru teaching one dedicated student. PYC’s YTT had a great focus on preparing us to do private instruction, along with teaching yummy hands on assists, so that we could feel comfortable walking a person, verbally and physically through their practice. We had lots of time to practice giving and receiving yummy assists– something I greatly miss receiving in my practice here. While private instruction is never what I intended to do, after this morning, I was glad PYC prepared me for it, and I look forward for more hot days, where maybe, just one lone yogi will be in class!