I had not thought about the game Simon Says in decades. But not so long ago, it popped into my head as I considered the way yoga classes are often cued. I bristled. The last intention I have when teaching (as opposed to "instructing") is to create an environment of expecting students to be ... obedient. To me. As an "invitational" teacher, what I truly hope to teach a student is to see, feel, and trust their own inner guidance and way of being in a pose.
Granted, not everyone wants to practice this way, many people just want to walk into a class and be told exactly what to do so they don't have to think about it, so they can turn their exhausted mind off for awhile. They may want to go to a class where the instructions are a command. Loud and clear!
As usual, I'd like to offer another way of experiencing yoga. Quiet and clear.
Curious, I wondered if anyone else had called Simon Says style yoga instruction to task. I sensed so, and felt an inner Yes! when I saw that one of my favorite teachers indeed had. Donna Farhi, one of the world's most respected yoga teachers, has this to say:
From Simon Says to Self-Sovereignty:
Teachers are trained to deliver authoritative instruction with students striving to obediently replicate a posture or practice. This makes for students who become passive recipients of information rather than active participants engaged in shared inquiry and adaptive learning. This externally referenced model for teaching can gradually erode people’s ability to access and trust their own perception, kinesthesia and interoception.
I do understand that learning to practice yoga with less external command can be challenging until we have more of a basic understanding of the mechanics of a pose. Getting from A to B in a sequence does require some know-how in order to be both safe and effective. We may well leave a yoga class feeling really good, but, do we understand why a particular practice makes us feel better?
I offer one of the keys to the castle:
With a little awareness of the energetics of a pose (or breath, or relaxation technique), we can build an inner data base of the how's and why's of practicing yoga. It is then that we can move from relying on Simon to tell us what to do, to being in our own yoga. Practicing from this approach shifts the mind to something more meaningful than what you are doing with what body part. This is yoga for energy management, which has a longer "shelf life." It is my anti-Simon endeavor to facilitate, rather than dictate, ways in which students can learn to manage their own energy, nervous systems, and minds. This is an excellent foundation for building a home practice that will serve us on a system-wide level. Consider it a prescription for ease.
If you'd like to learn more about how to use yoga, relaxation, breath work, meditation, and Self-reflection to soothe an exhausted mind or an overwhelmed nervous system, I'll be offering practices and take-home tools in my upcoming three-part course, Press Pause, at Sonoma Yoga. I would love to share some ways you can use your yoga at home for a more calm and centered mind.
[Exciting News for You!
I'll soon have free practices from my video library right here on my website, stay tuned!]
Here are the deets for the course again:
Press Pause with Barbra Brady:
Three Saturdays in September
To Uplift & Empower Your Life.
Do you ever feel overwhelmed? Exhausted? Ever felt like your mind was spinning round and round on a hamster wheel? Maybe a little “stuck?”
There’s a yoga for that! Join Barbra to learn simple, sustainable practices from the energetic sciences of yoga and Yoga Mindset Coaching to help balance the field of body, mind, and beyond. You'll take home practices and a better understanding of "what poses to do when" for just what "ails" your energy.
September 10: 1:00-4:00pm
September 17: 1:00-3:00pm
September 24: 1:00-3:00pm
Venue: Sonoma Yoga, 577 5th Street West, Sonoma.
Investment for the Three-Part Workshop: $149
Registration and payment is through Sonoma Yoga, 707-935-8600.
Please contact Barbra with any questions, firstname.lastname@example.org.
…This September, you may just find yourself with a renewed spaciousness of radiant rest and awakened clarity.
This is me, living and breathing my own way of playing "Babs Says.
"Sit by a mountain creek, tilt your head to the sun, and smile."
Yeah, I'm definitely "Babs" in this moment!