Yoga is a practice.
What that means is this: you just do it. You show up and you practice. You show up the next day and practice some more. You aren’t practicing for anything- there’s no final test, no yoga olympics. Some days you feel so good, so strong. Some days you’re too tired , but you still show up. You don’t judge yourself, and you don’t judge anyone else. It’s just practice. But if you practice regularly you WILL grow stronger and more flexible. You will develop balance in your body and your mind. You will know the sanskrit names for many of the postures. I guarantee this. Because practicing IS learning.
You do not have to break yoga down into little pieces in order to understand it. You just have to practice.
In school classrooms, we break the learning into parts. Instead of practicing reading and practicing writing, we try to break reading and writing into pieces and parts, skills and standards. I wonder why we don’t just practice what we want to learn in its entirety by showing up and doing it- just reading and writing every day.
In yoga class everyone is different. I like inversions and balancing. Those postures are fun for me, and I like challenging myself as I build strength in those areas. I’m not very strong in my core, though, and I often have to rest during the abs series. It’s all good. I’m improving in both my strengths and my weak areas. I know what I’m good at, and I know what I need to work on. Other people have different strengths and weaknesses. It doesn’t matter, and we are all focused on our own practice. Everyone grows and develops at their own pace. But everyone tries and everyone challenges themselves. How do I know this? Because it is human nature to challenge ourselves in learning. When you have practiced something for a long time it starts to get easy, and you naturally want to move onto something harder.
How does the teacher guide the practice? The teacher models what can be, how a posture “should” look. She might offer an “assist,” a gentle correction of a particular skill. She offers modifications for the postures, but it is up to the students to “differentiate.”
How could this work in a classroom? I can already “hear” the arguments — the testing! the parents! How can we trust children to challenge themselves? I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I do believe in practice. And I do believe that this model would work with children. Put in your hours of practice and you will pass the test. You will learn. You will figure out what YOU need.