This way I have collected hundreds of handwritten Yoga practice examples

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Some years ago now I changed the process around how students notated various practices I taught for groups within Student Training Courses or Practitioner Training Programmes.

My methodology previously had prioritised students learning the skills of being able to remember and context what they had just practiced by also being able to recall and then record it accurately. This was part of cultivating personal practice skills, as well as helping in establishing the art of keeping a practice journal over a several year period.

Thus I would teach a small group of students, studying within the contexts of either personal study courses or professional training programmes, a practice and then wait, before perhaps writing it on the board, for it to be notated down from the student’s memory and then we would at some point discuss it and its context to the current situation.

This approach, although helpful was also a very time consuming process, given the range of students learning methodologies and notating skills, before we all arrived at the point where we could share and discuss the practice and its role at that point.

Also as each practice was an expression of the moment and an original construct according to and relevant to the group dynamics at that point in time, or study situation and topic we had been working on that session, day, or weekend, there was no way that I could write it down beforehand, let alone have a pre-prepared handout.

However these moments of ‘creative formation’ were also fully grounded within the core principles of practice planning fundamentals and application according to the situation, as inherited from Krishnamacharya and extensively embedded into me by my teacher over our decades of personal lessons.

I remain eternally indebted to Desikachar for this initiation and long apprenticeship through which his sustained transmission became deeply internalised and now remains perennially potent, thus enduring beyond the demise of the physical link with him as my root teacher he remains my guide and spiritual friend.

So at some point during this past decade I decided to change my modus operandi and started to write the practice down as it unfolded whilst teaching the group. This meant I could then photocopy it as the practice concluded, so it was available to the group as soon as the practice was completed, for reference and discussion. This way I have collected hundreds of handwritten Yoga practice examples taught in a wide range of personal and professional study situations.

Synchronistically this past year has also found me in my final stages of a five year process to move away from four year Practitioner and two year Postgraduate training programmes being the holding ground for long term learning of all the aspects of ‘Core’, ‘Intermediate’ and ‘Advanced’ student training.

The viniyoga of Yoga is a process to train a student,
not a training to process a teacher.

Completing this transition now means that all aspects or levels of teachings, whether on principles of Yoga practice or associated textual studies, are now available within modularised multilevelled personal developmental small group study courses for any interested student. Both as a complete process in itself or as a prerequisite to those who may want to ultimately train as a Practitioner looking to add the skills of teaching Yoga for all situations.

I feel this re-prioritising of studying for the sake of studying, without the encumbrances inherent in the inevitable professional training tendency to load the student in anticipation of what they must become, is a relief to a student as a freedom to be with their own personal Yoga process, rather than it getting sublimated, buried or even lost within the ‘teacher’ role to come.

The viniyoga of Yoga is about a system to teach to a student,
rather than about students to teach a system to.

As well as for me being a more important priority, in that options to study all aspects of Yoga to all levels and for all interests would be available to all students as stand alone processes, rather than be ‘carrots’ attracting students to teacher training courses. Or there is a enrolling pressure in that it’s the only route available to seemingly learn all that Yoga can offer, as well as sitting within the more modern emergence, of being a career focused pursuit as a starting priority in the Yoga journey.

These days there is lots of talk on what is involved in training to be a Yoga Teacher,
however little talk on what is involved in training to be a Yoga Student.

Not without a certain note of irony within the inevitable impact of the wider ranging informational and pedagogic demands of training to be a Yoga teacher or this currently increasingly debatable ‘speciality’ (see also ‘What is Healthy for the Heart of Yoga’) of becoming a ‘Yoga Therapist’ or adding suchlike skills for the Western Yoga marketplace, alongside the increasingly shortening of training timescales.

All of which can actually mean a diminishing of the scope and potential of study into all aspects of personal Yoga practice and study. As a student at an open seminar on the Haṭha Yoga Pradīpikā once commented ‘why bother to learn this text when it has little relevance to the classes I teach’.

“Training to learn how to teach Yoga is not the same as
training to learn how to practice and study Yoga.”

One further outcome of this transition from teaching practices to training groups as application examples of group or individual processes, towards teaching study groups how to personalise their practice, along with these past years of recording practices as I taught them, means that I needed to decide what do with these hundreds of practice examples from the many different situations and contexts I have taught within.

Thus I have decided to offer on-line copies of a range of these practice notations as Posts, with the caveat that they are also merely examples of a unique situation that existed at that moment and are thus reflecting an expression of a study point or the students group dynamic as a need at that moment.

Yet within this caveat, these examples of short but intensive practices, whilst not to be taken as fixed templates, are also reflecting the richness and multifarious possibilities in how the principles in the viniyoga of Yoga can be expressed as learning and experiential tools within a myriad of situations and personalities.

This new series of posts with these example practices will unfold over time on my journal page under the side menu category Paul’s viniyoga Vignettes.

Meanwhile further reflections around this question of student training priorities as a personal preference, or as a prerequisite to choosing to pursue and engage in teaching training options, can be found below.

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