Practice Session, occasional Friday afternoons 3–4.45pm
Upcoming dates are listed on the online timetable.
Zoë has written some notes about this session below:
What is a Self Practice session?
Iyengar Yoga is broad – seldom do we do the same thing in a class from week to week. That’s great because we don’t get bored but it does mean that understanding (and having the confidence) to start a home practice can be more of a challenge.
And practice is really where the learning we do in class starts to be applied and yoga starts happening in the shapes that we explore.
It wasn’t until I had begun my introductory teacher training that I really began to see what practice is all about; until then my home practice had all been out of books or just repeating what I’d done in class (which is a good enough way to start). And then I found myself at a yoga centre in India where in-between the two classes a day an afternoon practice session was scheduled. Why do I need to do a three hour practice in addition to doing four hours of classes I wondered? And, I have to tell you, I didn’t start off with three hours of practice but I did start going in for just half an hour or so. And the significant thing that had changed after that first trip to India was that when I came back the nature of my home practice was radically different – instead of it being a slightly guilt-filled exploration in determination and inadequacy, my practice time had become playful, exploratory, open ended. And obviously the teaching had something to do with that, but it was largely a product of spending every afternoon in a yoga studio with other like minded souls.
What happens in a practice session?
One or more people share the space to do their own practice. The atmosphere is quiet, focused, diligent – but not necessarily silent. Each individual is in their own space exploring their own practice. Nothing is led. Sometimes there may be a very quiet question asked (nobody wants to disturb or interrupt anyone else’s practice). But the conversation is brief, soft and specific.
If I’m struggling with alignment on something I may wait for someone to pause in their practice and ask for them to have a quick look at what I’m doing. Sometimes two or more people may be exploring the same thing or the same sequence, but they do this in such a way that it doesn’t disturb the other people in the room.
What does it cost?
– There is no cost to Yogawest students for this session. It is offered to those who come to Yogawest classes regularly to help them to enhance their practice.
Why is a practice session helpful?
– Working with other people is really helpful: focus can flicker if practicing alone.
– Coming out ‘to practice’ sets a certain time aside that then gets devoted to the practice.
– Yogawest is a wonderful building. People have been practising in here for 30 years – and you can feel it! Let all the people who’ve left a patina of practice in the floors and on the walls of the building help you.
– Yogawest is fully equipped: not all of us have backbenders and ropes and setubhanda benches at home!
– Seeing other people practice is very helpful: I see things that I wouldn’t have thought possible and I see levels of concentration that are inspiring. And sometimes its also really good to see other people trying and failing and keeping on at it.
– It reminds me of the breadth and the range of this thing we call ‘Iyengar Yoga’.
Dos & Don’ts in a Practice Session
– Be respectful and don’t interrupt other people’s space or time or quiet.
– You need to take responsibility for yourself and your own safety.
– Don’t use equipment you’re unfamiliar with (there’s nothing more alarming for a teacher than seeing someone on the other side of the room doing something dangerous because they don’t know how to do it). Err on the side of caution. Only use the equipment you are confident with, especially with the ropes. You need to find out how to use equipment in classes or 1:1s, not during practice sessions.
– Do practice what you’ve been learning in class. Its fine if you don’t remember it: just play and explore and see what happens.
– Do feel free to look at what other people are doing. Be inspired.
– Don’t be afraid to do things ‘wrong’: one of the reasons there’s a teacher there is they’ll be keeping half an eye out to stop you doing anything dangerous. Most of the stuff we need to explore isn’t life threatening! BUT if someone tells you to stop doing something STOP. I’m sure they’ll be happy to explain after the practice session has finished.
– If you need to have a conversation about something then do it outside the studio room.
– Do give yourself time for a savasana at the end of the practice.
– Be generous but remember this is your practice time: if someone asks for help then give it freely (to the best of your ability) but don’t forget this time is about you finding out about you.
– You don’t need to turn up ‘on time’, but you do need to finish by the published time. If the door is locked please ring the doorbell.
– Make sure all equipment is put away by the end of the session.
What’s the teacher there for?
To unlock the door.
To make sure that in the event of a fire everyone gets out of the building.
To ensure you work safely.