Of all the yoga styles I’ve tried, only Ashtanga has “mysore” or a practice where one does the sequence at his/her own pace. My experience with Vinyasa is that Teacher Pio always leads; most of the time, even the breathing is led. Yes, in a way we’re pampered =D
Last week, Teacher brought up to the class the idea of “group self-practice” that is, each student would do the standard sequence of poses on his/her own (e.g. surya namaskara), following his/her own pace, while the teacher does adjustments. At some point of the sequence, the non-beginners would be doing a set of poses different from that of the beginners, enabling them “move on the next level” (if there is such a thing in yoga). One of the students was adamant with his stand: we are here to relax and if we do yoga on our own, we have to think…and thinking is what we are already doing all day…and we are here because we want a teacher….
He reminded me of myself when I was just starting out. Once Teacher asked if we know already the sequence and I readily replied “no” (oops, sorry, I lied). “Kasi pag sinabi kong oo you’ll let us practice on our own…ayoko ngang mag-isip.” (Bratty ‘no?) But as I pressed on to my journey, I discovered the fears, and then the joys, of self-practice.
Fear #1. I might forget what comes next thus interrupting the flow…and worse, I might not remember it no matter how hard I try and thus just stop the practice altogether.
Fear #2. Chances are, I would commit mistakes (e.g. skipping the other side) and that’s awful.
Fear #3. I might not do the counting right (even if it’s normally only up to 4 breaths!).
Fear #4.I might look funny…
Fear #5.…and the class would notice…
Fear #6.…while the teacher is looking.
(if done at home)
Fear #7. I might fall or injure myself or have an asthma attack and nobody’s there to help me or bring me to the hospital.
Fear #8. I might be doing it wrong and nobody would correct me.
Fear #9. I will not do as well if I were in a class…see, I am not sweating enough!
Fear #10. I don’t have space and time…and background music, proper lighting, full-body mirror…so I couldn’t do it.
Fear #11. People at home (or even my dog or a phone call) would certainly interrupt my practice.
Fear #12. I would not be able to enter into relaxation without the teacher’s instructions during savasana.
Joy #1. I could follow my own breath.
Joy #2. I could stay in a pose (and even repeat it) for as long as I want.
Joy#3. I have the luxury of time to check and correct my alignment.
Joy #4. I could give more attention to the poses and thus identify my strengths and what needs improvement.
Joy #5. I could overcome my fears of self-practice.
(if done at home)
Joy#6. I could do my friend poses.
Joy #7. I could skip my enemy poses.
Joy#8. I could explore a pose to deepen it or try out the new ones I learned from the previous sessions or from a magazine/DVD less Fears #4 to #6.
Joy #9. I could move to child’s pose (or any restorative pose) when I feel the need for it.
Joy #10. I could always move against the wall to help me do a pose right without distracting anyone.
Joy #11. Nobody (else) would pass gas.
Joy #12. From savasana, I could go straight to slumber (less the fear of being left behind in the studio).
Feel free to add to this list!