Why I Don’t Teach Everything I Practice

Why I Don’t Teach Everything I Practice

Changing perspectives over a generation of yoga. By Paula Hines

Reading time: 3 minutes

This year marks 23 years of yoga practice. My practice has been through various stages in that time. Likewise, my teaching has naturally changed too.

Though I only teach what I practice, I don’t teach everything I practice. Let me explain.

At one time, the more dynamic my physical practice was the better. Hot yoga, Ashtanga, Jivamukti and so on. But that’s okay. I feel this was what I needed then. I also went through a phase of chasing poses. I remember the sense of achievement when gliding into bird of paradise and the feelings of pride at being praised for ‘nailing’ headstand and getting into deeper and deeper backbends. (Little did I know then that this was exacerbating a spinal condition I was yet to discover.)

Nowadays s my practice is far less asana- based. A number of poses have fallen away. Now, my practice is more about how I move through the day, how I act and react (and how I don’t).

Today, meditation has overtaken asana, though this doesn’t necessarily mean sitting on a cushion.

Worthwhile things take time. I feel I had to go through the various stages of my yoga journey to get to where I am now. It’s not a place you reach by attending a class every so often. It has been years in the making, but this isn’t the final destination. As any dedicated practitioner knows, the path doesn’t end.

Of the reasons I teach less than I used to, here are just a couple. One is that my own practice was suffering which in turn negatively (I feel) impacted my teaching. Another is that I feel (rightly or wrongly) there is a limit to what I can offer in a drop[1]in class setting where you don’t necessarily see the same people regularly over a period of time. In this scenario I’m not going to, for instance, guide students in meditation or pranayama practices that are not for beginners.

I find that teaching longer, more occasional classes and workshops tends to allow space to go deeper than is usually possible in a 60-minute class. At present, this and teaching privately is where you’ll mostly find me. And you can always find recorded practices that you can do in your own time on my Substack (slowlivingpaula.substack.com)

But as I have learned, things can and do change. One thing that remains constant though is my gratitude for yoga.

Paula Hines is a London-based yoga teacher and the author of the book Rest + Calm (Green Tree, Bloomsbury Publishing). Find out more at: ucanyoga.co.uk

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