One of the things that is unusual about our yoga studio is the structure of our classes. Most of our classes are taught in a course based, pre-registration format. We do this so that the teaching can be built up progressively from class to class. This requires a greater commitment from both student and teacher yet the reward is a more profound depth of learning and understanding.
Our reasons for asking students to commit to a series of classes lie in our teaching methodology. Our 90 minute classes are designed to take students through a learning process that encompasses the full scope of postures, breathing, and meditation in a systematic and progressive manner. This method requires a level of commitment and prolonged study best achieved within the structure of a series of classes attended sequentially. This structure provides a continuity of instruction that holds significant benefits to students that enroll in a series of classes:
- Teachers are better able to adapt teaching tools and techniques to respect the needs, abilities and requirements of each individual student leading to safer practice;
- Personalized yoga programs can be developed as needed for students that commit to consistent instruction; and
- Classes can be taught with a specific progressive focus. As such the class as a whole and students as individuals progress faster and with a more thorough understanding over time.
The yoga sage Patanjali says in yoga sutra 1.14 that “The practice of yoga is firmly rooted when maintained consistently with commitment over a long period of time.” Consistent practice over time with commitment; this can be a daunting concept. As a young man I chaffed at commitment and the discipline that consistent practice implied. I moved quickly from job to job, city to city, and from relationship to relationship. I avoided personal commitments. Predictable routine was a hardship and I viewed flexibility as the ultimate freedom.
I came to yoga in my late 30’s while engaged in a very demanding corporate career. I wanted something different out of life. The very act of committing to a regular yoga class changed me. This commitment turned out not to be a hardship, but a refuge. The things that I had to give up to attend class turned out to be things that I no longer needed.
By creating time and space in our life for important things and by committing to them we create what William James has called “ a simplified world to live in – away from the burdens and responsibilities of our normal routine.” * Ultimately the real purpose of commitment is not to limit ourselves but to nourish ourselves.
“When we begin to incorporate yoga into our daily lives, the power and effectiveness of yoga takes on new significance. Deliberate practice expands from the limits of whatever time we set aside to the unlimited possibility of time discovered, the opportunities present in every moment.” From Paying Attention and Making Choices, Susan Maier-Moul, Editor, The Magazine for Yoga http://themagazineofyoga.com/blog/2010/07/14/work-like-a-yogi/
* From Donald Moyer – February Asana Column, Yoga Journal 1999