Wednesday, December 27, 2006


the lot of yoga subs

long-time readers know that i often mutter about the poor quality of substitute yoga teachers, who are rife in the summer and around the holidays. this doesn't mean i don't feel for them -- they are often tossed willy-nilly into situations where they know almost nothing about the regular form of the class, the students, the yoga style, or the studio.

an excellent example of this happened to me last night: at my regular nabe yoga center, everyone's fave punk yogi j. brown was off. the studio sought a sub, which was hard to find this time of year even with the current teacher glut, as subs are in high demand this particular week.

they located a very pleasant young guy, michael, a student of dharma mittra. whoa!

now this is a big switch -- j. teaches a breath-centered viniyoga with a set vinyasa ritual as inspired by mark whitwell, while dharma's people. . .well, that's a massively different style unto itself.

but the studio told poor michael only that he was supposed to teach a "basic hatha" class. of course basic viniyoga and basic dharma is not the same basic at all.

in fact, these two "schools" -- is that an overly rigid term? -- have different goals, methodologies, teaching styles, philosophies; they use the same obvious means, asana, poses, the body you have now, but that's about it.

even the poses are somewhat different; and those which are alike sometimes have different names.

so michael went in and mightly tried his best as not only an obviously newer teacher, but also as a new sub to a new center.

later the desk manager asked me what i thought of the class. how to answer?

the studio had thrust the guy into a crazy situation, and he had responded by asking the students, "do you normally do this pose? do you know that pose?" which was rational.

but in the end he taught dharma because dharma is who he is and what he knows. so he basically slowed dharma down, kept the sun salutations simple, and introduced a couple of pranayama and chant styles new to the regular students.

michael also spent a long time in savasana and a loving-kindness meditation at the end.

i think he did a fairly good job mitigating the dharma style, which is heavily into back-bending and flexibility, for the audience in front of him. only one of the class regulars booked out early.

in sum, i want to have some sympathy with michael as he made his way thru, stumbling only a few times. i think he has potential as a teacher, unlike many subs i see; and for the chanting, he has a fine voice.

but the studio did him a disservice by shoving him in a class with such a radical pre-existing style. they should have him sub for one of the other dharma-style classes there first.

and -- because for some reason i can't let this go, i gotta find out why -- they just have to start sweeping that floor. when the dust bunnies are able to follow you through the standing poses, that's a bad, bad sign.

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posted by fortune | 7:07 AM | top | link to this | email this: | links to this post | | 0 comments

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