Our fab yoga therapist, Iris, offers semi-private yoga sessions at Victory on Tuesdays at 1pm and 6pm, and on Fridays at 1pm. But she also offers private sessions (or buddy sessions if you’d rather bring a friend!) on Tuesday and Friday mornings. So why would you choose to do a private yoga session rather than joining a group? Iris explains…
Recent research showed that almost 9% of all Americans practise yoga at least once a month – that’s about 20 million people, up by 15 million since the last data collection in 2012. There is no equivalent data available in the UK as of yet, but chances are that you will know a couple of people who already regularly attend classes.
Mark Singleton writes his ground breaking book ‘Yoga Body’ that modern yoga has very little to do with the original science that originated in India almost 5000 years ago. Today’s yoga caters to a global fitness oriented scene that focuses on postures (asana), fashion and accessories in a booming industry. This new movement owes a greater debt to Indian nationalism, the spiritual aspirations of European bodybuilding and the early 20th century women’s gymnastics movements in the Western world.
The history aside, fact is that people who practise yoga regularly, are generally fitter, healthier, happier in their own body and mind, have better posture and work better under pressure. What’s not to like?
So, with so many classes available, what are the benefits on doing yoga one-on-one?
Generic yoga classes focus mostly on asana (postures). Many of my beginners students feel they had a good practice if their muscles ache the next day. But postures are only one small part of yoga, and a one-style-fits-all solution is not always the best way forward.
There is a lot more to it than touching your toes without problems. One thing all of my private clients have in common, is that they have distinct goal of changing their lives for the better. To make a profound change, the first and most uncomfortable truth is that you may have to look into who you really are.
(And speaking of toes, it is astonishing how many people are so disconnected from their bodies that they are unable to find and move their toes when they are lying on a mat!)
Anxiety, anger, frustration, stress and sleeplessness have become commonly accepted states of modern adulthood. All of these can result in physical illness, but people may not even be aware of dull discomfort, because it has become part of life.
For example, one very successful client of mine who suffered from insomnia was completely surprised to discover that he had nothing in his life that he truly looked forward to every week. He liked sailing, but he only went once a year. He loved to spend time with his sister’s family, but he only ever saw them at birthdays. All his friends were colleagues. He had truly lost vision of how he could live a happy and fulfilled life.
A bespoke yoga session is much more than teaching you how to be a little more flexible. Once you start practising yoga in earnest, you may be opened to a full spectrum of physical and emotional feelings – this is not other people telling you what to do. This is YOU realising how uncomfortable your body feels, how unable you are to move, how little quality time you actually have. And truthfully, many people, once faced with these insights, quickly stop practising altogether, because the answer to this may be that they truly have to change the relationships with others and themselves, and change is always uncomfortable. But if you can face the changes, then the benefits can be extraordinary.
None of my new clients are used to meditating, because their minds are too busy, chaotic, perhaps frustrated or simply overwhelmed. They may lack compassion to their bodies– competing against themselves how to get into a full posture in minimum time, regardless of body shape or fitness. It is the most common request in a private session – people who have plateaued in their generic classes come to me privately, hoping that I’ll teach them how to get into a full posture.
And while that is certainly something we can do, the first private session often comes as a surprise, because start by teaching you how to observe your body, and how to observe your mind. TKV Desikachar in his classic “The Heart of Yoga” said: “The ultimate goal of yoga is to always observe things accurately, and therefore never act in a way that will make us regret our actions later.”
I always hope that my clients will take their daily practice to a place of mindfulness, allowing them to work subtly and precisely with feelings, sensations and thoughts as they arise. Practising with mindfulness means to take practice to the next level, helping you to remove obstacles that stop you from living a purposeful life. This kind of experience is not available in a communal class.
(And, let’s face it. If you can’t control your own toes, how can you be expected to be in charge of your entire life?)
Intrigued? Fancy going to places a yoga class simply won’t take you? Call us on 0207 175 0150 or click the button below, and come to change your body and your mind with Iris.