I’ve been practicing yoga for a while now and have tried different class styles. In some of them, I have felt connected to the practice and in others, well, let’s just say I never went back. When I think about the possible reasons as to why I sometimes don’t feel connected to some classes, one thing keeps popping up: the class didn't speak to me. There are certain things about the way classes are taught that helps you feel connected to it. In my opinion, it’s the language that is used during the class that connects me (or not) to the practice. Language seems to be then the glue that ties the student to a particular teacher or class.
But language has many aspects to it: the intonation used by the teacher, the directedness of an instruction given, the silence left in or between postures, the glaze of approval discreetly given, the mood of a class, the eco resonating within you when the instructor calls your by your name, the use (or lack thereof) os Sanskirt words, the gestures of reassurance, the slight touch on your body to correct one of your postures, et cetera. Whichever the case, language, in all of its forms, is the common denominator.
The way the teacher communicates is related not only to her voice, gestures, and body but also with how close they get to the class. So, even though it’s inspiring when you see them perform seemingly impossible feats in front of everyone, and verbally guide you through the process while giving rhythm to the class, it is much more reassuring when the instructor walks around and closely directs her voice to address any of your own needs.
In yoga, as in anything that is taught and learnt, there are different learning styles. Some of us are primarily visual, others learn better by listening, internalizing, and repeating, and others are more attuned to notion and touch. I like to think of myself as someone who is somewhat strict when it comes to postures and alignment. Thus, I need to first see a posture and then be physically corrected to better understand a particular twist, jump or else. Yes, tell me how to do it but that grabbing of my arms or legs to push it a bit to and fro is what really makes a difference to me. It does not only feel nice to see you are being checked on but also that soft push or pull helps you start establishing a muscular memory.
And communication and connection is a two way street, too. Yes, the teacher provides instructions that students try to follow and, in doing so, students send feedback back to the source, which in turn affects the cadence of the instructor who then helps create a rhythm which hopefully will make the whole class vibrate together to a particular harmony, until we all easily flow with it. Doing all this is certainly not easy. But if being connected with the class makes sense to you, as a teacher, then exploring ways to communicate with your students certainly is something worth looking into. If you do so, maybe you will find, as I did, that language, in its many forms, is queen.