Monday, 16 April 2012

Teaching my first Vinyasa Krama class

Actually not my first class, I've been teaching M. for sometime now, was particularly proud the other day when I got home and found (it was her day off) that she had practised for 40-60 minutes on her own in my practice room (now our practice room). She'll always be my first 'student'.

But yesterday was the first non family...'official' class.

I don't want to say too much about it as I  feel it's a teacher/student, private thing but this is the first time and he found me through this blog so enough perhaps to say that he has been practising Yoga for fifteen years or so, mostly Ashtanga but also Sivananda and Inyengar and is a teacher himself and in the country for a few days. So experienced enough that I could mainly focus on Ramaswami's approach. M. was a complete beginner so it was interesting to have such a contrast.

The lesson seemed to go really well but ran over, we'd planned on three hours but it ended up four an half hours with only savasana breaks.

The main thing I wanted to do was give him the tools to practice Vinyasa Krama at home, to be able to take Ramaswamis book and turn it into a viable daily practice so it was a all about selection and combination of asana and subroutines and integrating the practice with pranayama, pratyahara and japa meditation.

I started the class off with the long Ganesha/Patanjali prayer,  Ramaswami would have liked me to but while I chant it to myself every morning it felt a bit strange chanting it out loud with someone I don't know,  glad I did though.

Then we just went through the sequences, a lot of time spent on the On your feet sequence as it's a good place to introduce the main principles of Ramaswami's approach.

With the other sequences I mainly wanted to bring in the postures/subroutines that were particularly different in approach to ashtanga and Iyengar and work at a subroutine level.

Nice long paschimottanasana, shoulder stand and headstand with vinyasas.

This was quite exciting for me, Kapalabhati first and then we looked the pranayama mantra together.  I was basically directing the inhalation, holds, exhalations and then chanting out loud the pranayama mantra while he retained the breath after the inhale. It's hard to do, bit like juggling, need more experience with doing it.

In awe of Ramaswami keeping that up so effortlessly for forty minutes on the course, I only did ten.

Then pratyahara and Japa meditation, when the meditation timer went off I closed with a peace mantra, didn't feel so awkward chanting out loud this time and again, glad I did.

He may be coming back in the week, kind of want to do an actual integrated practice of around 90 minutes, just as I would do it myself ( just heard, he's asked to come again this evening which will be nice as everything will be still fresh'ish).

Next time I guess I'd like to keep it a little tighter and down to three hours with a break perhaps after 90 minutes. Asana focus for the first half then come back after the break for the long paschi, shoulderstand prep and headstand before moving into the pranayama etc.

I enjoyed it but then he was an ideal first student and we had enough time to get stuck into the approach. Teaching a series of one hour or 90 minute classes would be another challenge altogether. Brought home to me that I've some experience of this approach now and of turning it into a home practice in particular and that I should be sharing that more directly. Also of some of the areas to work on to be a better at it, all those newsletters of Ramaswami's to study more closely.

The best thing of all was that I could almost hear Ramaswami over my shoulder, almost as if I was channelling him. I wasn't trying to do an impression of him but perhaps what he's teaching and how he's teaching it are so entwined in my mind that I can't help approaching it in a similar way.

Notice that I ache a little all over from demonstrating and practicing along for much of the time, forget how tough Vinyasa Krama is sometimes.


  1. Hi,

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  2. hi Emily just noticed there's no 'About me' box on this one. I'm at google and that's a dot com and the name grimmly2007