Elements of Creative Teaching workshop


At one point in Yoga Loft sequencing workshop last month, instructors Suzy Nece and Shelley Williams asked the students present to dig deep into their vocabularies. The theme of the Creative Element workshop was Water, and Nece and Williams challenged students to think of all the water-related words they could use to describe the movements people might make in the course of a yoga class. Students jotted in their notebooks for a while, and then began to share: “spill,” “pour,” “dive” and a dozen others, as the quiet murmurs of uncertainty gave way to confident crashes of realization. The animating spirit behind the growing excitement of the class was the power of words, and a deeper sense of the essential power of a yoga instructor: the ability to use language to give students an experience that goes beyond the physical.

Next weekend provides another opportunity for teachers and dedicated students to dig into creative sequencing and inspired flow, with a workshop focused around the Fire Element. An intensive practice and lecture from 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. will focus on the relationship between the theme and suggested postures, and will provide a deep breakdown of a class based around the Fire element. Students will then get to see the ideas in action at an advanced practice class held from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. (The class will also be open to the public.)

The fire element sequence will be geared toward building heat, and finding creative ways to make use of it. A “solar” practice, the class will address asanas like crow pose, handstand, wheel and forearm stand. For many practitioners, these poses can feel like a sand trap plopped on the 17th hole of golf course: an obstacle inserted without rhyme or reason, designed only to frustrate when the end is so clearly in sight. Unfortunately, their jaw-clenching reputation obscures the healing and ultimately calming benefits they can provide. For teachers, the workshop will provide an techniques for making these postures more approachable for students—how to make them feel like a logical progression, rather than a grudgingly fulfilled obligation. And for dedicated students, the session will enhance understanding of alignment, as well as the access to levels beyond the physical body they provide.

As with each of the four  workshops, the element theme provides for a kind of humbleness that informs the organization of the workshops. Seasons and moon phase govern our actions and outlook, in the same way that they guide the harvest and sweep the tides. This Saturday is no different: the tropical storm season of the Eastern Pacific is ending; a glimpse at the ocean tells you that the North Pacific is awakening; and the workshop falls hot on the heels of a full moon. So whether your goal is to help others awaken the energy they carry inside, or just to improve your handstand, this workshop, marks an excellent chance to fulfill your long-simmering plans.