I delivered two very enjoyable workshops to around fifty or so yoga teachers this weekend,totally different topics at each, one was freedom through movement and one was freedom through the breath. However both began as I usually begin a workshop....with some very uncomfortable and big questions about what we are actually doing as yoga teachers and the validity of what we are teaching.
Everyone knows that I like to really question everything about What I teach, How I teach it and most importantly WHY i teach it. I feel it is both best practice and my primary responsibility as a teacher.
If I can't answer the 'why' with absolute sincerity then I simply can't teach, that makes life really difficult for me a lot of the time....
especially whilst Im trying to get things clear in my head about what works most effectively and what REAL value it has. It has meant that I have dropped all of my classes, gone into a degree of 'teaching' isolation and done my usual self-removal from the world while I try to work things out.
Do I truly believe that what I am delivering has the best value, is the most effective, understandable, applicable to modern yogis /humans; fitting for a class format; in this cultural context?
That means that I have to do a lot of research and self study, within yoga and across disciplines.
Those who have bravely embarked one our TT's, one of our intensives or just played at a workshop with me and our crew know that those are very BIG QUESTIONS that most of us AVOID because they are very uncomfortable!
What happens if i cant answer them? What happens if I start to doubt the yoga that I am teaching to the world? Does that mean Im not a yoga teacher anymore. Who the hell does that leave me as? Don't I need a name, label for what I do and who I am? This practitioner, that style, this type of therapist and so on?
Anyway I have spent the last coupe of years as many of you know, exploring, playing. testing all manner of breathwork techniques. Moving out of the familiar framework of pranayama and asking all of the big questions about it. Do I really understand what I'm teaching? Is it really of use? Is it the best methodology I can offer to most people in a modern class setting? And sometimes most worryingly, have I actually doing them a disservice?
Of course my answers weren't simple, they never are. But drawing from the best and most efficient of what I have learned from disciplines as diverse as freediving, WimHOf method, Systema. martial and energy arts, Sufism, Taoism and Buteyko method I have started working with a range of techniques that I simply call Functional Breathwork; as that is basically what it is - effective and functional for modern life and modern problems. As ususal no trademarks; no patented sequences, no making up odd huffing puffing shit just for the sake of being different and saying its mine. Lets face it, humans have been exploring the breath forever, most of them a lot more wise than me, there is a wealth of techniques already out there to draw from. I dopnt need to make up my own.
I have just delivered my first outing of the trimmed weekend version to a room full of experienced yoga teachers and I really enjoyed how it went, got some great feedback and will tweak some parts accordingly. That process will go on as long as it gets delivered.
What's exciting is that to tie in with my work, my friends at Movement for Modern Life are about to release my Ten Day Functional Breathwork Challenge which you can find through the link below. Its a taster of how you might just get your breathing back to some semblance of a normal human animal as well as looking at how it can help us to work with common mental issues such as anxiety. It also gives us all a great opportunity to feedback and share our own findings... a sort of mass group research project which can inform and improve the way that we all teach and practice!
What worked best for you? What fell on its face? What helped with your asthma? Your anxiety? Your posture?
It starts on November 12th to coincide with #Movember. If you sign up for it now you will get each day dropped into your inbox as it unfolds:) Please do feed back on it, its the only way we can ever take things forward with insight !!