As I have mentioned many times in my blogs, it was stress and anger issues that brought me to Yoga in the first place, then it was through Vinyasa Yoga at Semperviva that I started to really enjoy it and started to believe that it was something I would be practising for the rest of my life, so when I took my 200 hr yoga teacher training last year I always had the intention of taking some vinyasa training.
I love practising Vinyasa and I love visiting Semperviva’s studio (Kits beach studio is a 4-minute walk away from my home) and I am striving towards 500 hr certification, so I signed up.
Turns out I had to walk another 8 minutes all the way to the City Studio but such is life.
I hadn’t met or practised with Clara Roberts Oss before. I had intended to but the baby yogi in our home kind of meant I had a busy schedule.
From the get go Clara lived up to her reputation, people had told me I would work hard in her training and true enough, 2 hours in, there was so much sweat on my mat, I could have drowned.
To begin each day we came to our mats which were arranged in a circle around a beautiful alter. We were later given the chance to add something to it if we wished. We chanted together for between 20-40 minutes. No pressure to chant if it is not your thing and then we got stuck into a physical practise.
The physical practises were tough, especially 7 days in a row (I skipped one) but we had the option to skip it so long as we observed and noted the poses all the way through.
Lucky, after the second day, I remembered to bring a spare T-Shirt and Towel as we were certainly putting in the work and banging through content also. “Momma aint got time for that,” Clara would likely say.
Some of the physical practises contained little or no vinyasas (flow from downward dog to plank to half plank, up dog or cobra and back to down dog) and sometimes we held the poses for quite a while. This surprised me as I thought flowing through vinyasas and quick transition through the poses were trademarks of Vinyasa.
How much I have to learn.
From a practical standpoint Clara made sure she knew what each individual wanted to learn or take away from the course and she seemed to have memorized everybody’s name after about 22 seconds
Not everybody in the group were teachers. It’s inspiring to see people take their own practise seriously enough to invest time and money into it.
I was disappointed to find I was the only male, we need to see more men in yoga and I think that Vinyasa is exactly the type of practice which can attract more men. Men who are not yogis.
We need to bring the gift of yoga to the bricklayer on the building site, the gym addict who only lifts weights, the bloke who is intimidated to go into a female dominated environment, we need all of these fellows practising yoga because we, as men need it both for our state of mind and for our attitude.
We discussed class sequencing and Clara introduced the concept of Wave Theory. (No, not the theory of the wave motion of light with molecular vibrations of the radiant body, but waves and troughs, peaks and valleys in a yoga class). Planning a Vinyasa yoga class is a whole lot more complicated than I imagined.
This lead into the exploration of different poses, for example handstand and wheel, and a multitude of different ways to assist people. It really brought home the importance of being able to read your class. There is no point in teaching handstand or wheel if it is not something the majority of your class will be willing or able to attempt.
We then went on to dissect peak poses like CSI experts, pulling them apart in so many different ways that allowed us to construct a class from the bits and pieces we found and put them back together like the tin man into a class that consisted of everything we needed to prepare for a peak pose.
We also explored where we have come from as teachers by looking at the lineage of our teachers, that is, who I consider to be my teachers and who they consider to be their teachers?
I always think that from an ancestral point of view that knowing where you come from tells you a lot about yourself. I think the same applies to our teaching, knowing who has thought us and who influences us and in turn their influences. It is something I should make a point to find out more about.
The final day, after another tough practise we had a discussion on the Bhagavat Gita. I enjoyed this book. Stephen Mitchells translation is an easy read and it has lots to offer in the line of living well and it is a topic that one could discuss endlessly.
One of the main things I took away from this course is how much I don’t know and how much more I have to learn. I suppose that partly comes with experience but I would recommend this course to anybody who is either interested in deepening their practise or improving as a teacher, even if you have no intention of ever teaching vinyasa, the knowledge that was available to us through Clara was immense.