Thoughts from a Yoga Heretic
Some of what follows are teachings I was handed by brilliant women and men before me. Some of it I cultivated over my own two-plus decades of teaching.
1) "Just listen to your body" is not a reasonable instruction for beginners. If that person knew what to do, they wouldn't be coming to you. Not to mention the cultural indoctrination to push through, override, or otherwise ignore pain signals that have taught most people to stop listening to their body. (I have written on this topic at length. If you want to read more, click here.)
2) Yoga done to music is fine, but it can prevent someone from learning to listen to their body. It was practiced for decades without any musical accompaniment. It's not that strange.
3) Leading practice is not the same as teaching.
Also: Teaching a lot of classes does not equal practicing a lot.
4) If your goal is solely bigger/fancier/bendier movement, that is ego. That is where you are more likely to get hurt. If your goal is to understand the movement and to find the resistance to the movement, that is meditation.
5) Fancy yoga isn't advanced yoga. Many people who do fancy poses could already do something close to those poses before they walked into a yoga studio.
6) Using a wall or a prop is not remedial yoga. Coming out of a pose when you're done is not remedial yoga. In fact, knowing you are not ready for a fancy pose and need a wall or prop; knowing you're at the end of your endurance; that's what I call self-awareness. That's what I call advanced yoga.
7) Yoga classes self-select. If the teacher leads a practice, the students who enjoy that practice will stay. The student who doesn't move the same way the teacher does will decide yoga isn't for them and may never come back. If they keep at it in spite of the challenge, eventually they will get frustrated at lack of progress. Unless they find a teacher who actually teaches, they, too will get frustrated and quit.
8) Irreverence is good. Creating community matters more to me than creating a sacred space of silence. In my experience, laughter promotes breathing. Community decreases competition. Both of which lead to more self-awareness, less pose-envy.
9) Flowing through a series is a wonderful way to practice. But if you never slow down to observe the effects an individual pose, you may never learn which poses are nourishing you, which are helping you breathe or creating ease in a tense area of the body. Likewise, you may never know which poses are depleting or even injuring you.
10) Yoga doesn't cure anything.
Deep, and not so deep, thoughts on bodies, movement, yoga, art, shoes, parenting, dogs. You know, life.