Entering into the realm of one-to-one classes can be an exciting prospect for both teacher and student and can offer a chance to really get to know your body and mind away from the influence of other students. One-to-one yoga is the traditional way of learning yoga. The ancient yogis knew the importance of personal yoga practice; ensuring the individualisation of each asana and pranayama so that each student could grow and tap into the best version of themselves.
Nowadays there are more individuals wishing to undertake a yoga practice and there just aren’t enough hours in a day to reach every student! Thankfully group classes are available which allow greater accessibility and also create an energising atmosphere which is affordable; however, in group classes the teachers are not always in a position (pardon the pun!) to be able to provide individual attention and guidance, which we all need from one time or another.
WHY GO PRIVATE?
People decide to embark on private yoga sessions for a variety of reasons. Some have never experienced yoga before and feel overwhelmed at the idea of attending a group class. Others have many years of yoga under their belt but now need help with injuries or particular asanas. Others pursue this path in order to deal with emotional and mental challenges. Some people enjoy the flexibility of private sessions, as they can arrange a time and place that works for them. A private yoga lesson allows for a closer view into how your body and your mind work and therefore creates an authentic practice for… YOU.
It makes sense to make the most of a private session. As a student, a good private session is well worth the investment. As well as having the complete attention of the teacher you will also be able to try new asanas or sequences that you may have previously shied away from. If you are exploring yoga as a therapy, for example to ease a stiff shoulder then private sessions enable a teacher to design a practice just for you.
As a yoga teacher, I have experienced that working with students on a one-to-one basis has helped me to improve my abilities as a teacher and I find it incredibly rewarding to witness the progress of a student over a period of time.
One to one time with a yoga teacher is very enlightening and will often start at a mellower pace so the teacher can take time to focus on any alignment challenges specific to that student. These sessions also have the opportunity of providing immediate feedback, so the student can comment on how they feel and the teacher can consider what is happening in that moment; providing a full mind and body evaluation.
In order to get the most out of your private sessions here are some points to keep in mind:
1. GOAL SETTING
Every student comes to yoga for a reason, that’s a given, however those reasons will vary from student to student and sometimes a group class just cannot address everyone’s needs. Accordingly, the teacher sets the intention for the group class, however in a private setting the intention lies in the hands of the student. Have you ever been to a class needing some time to chill out and take it easy and everyone else wants a strong, sweat-filled practice or vice versa? You don’t have that issue in a private session. In a private session the student’s goals set the tone for the entire practice, so make sure that you know what your goals are. Why do you want these sessions? Also don’t be afraid to work towards an “impossible” pose. If you want to be able to do full splits then say so, then that goal can be worked towards in the sessions.
2. THE POWER IS IN YOUR HANDS
In a group yoga class, the wishes and needs of the students are generalized, whilst in one-to-one sessions they are very specific and exclusive to that student. Knowing the priorities of the student will set the stage for the rest of the sessions; the student directs the work. For example, if the student is someone who is troubled by stiff knees or is an anxious individual then the teacher can work with that and design the practice appropriately. Once the teacher is aware of what the student wants to work on they can select the suitable elements and teach them in a way that addresses the needs of the student. Speak up in your private sessions; be vocal about how you want to work and what you feel comfortable with. If you have a specific style of yoga that you prefer then don’t be shy, after all private sessions are about a personal practice and personal preference.
3. IMMEDIATE FEEDBACK EXCHANGE
In one-to-one time, visual and verbal feedback are present throughout and any part of the practice can be modified based on the responses from the student. It is a delicate and in-depth process of adjustment based on how the student feels at that moment. If the thought of another downward dog makes your eyes roll then an alternative asana is practiced. Simples. Immediate feedback is a great advantage of private sessions, so embrace it, be sure to say how you feel in each asana and take on board any feedback from the teacher. By doing this, you will notice a huge improvement in your practice in a shorter time frame.
4. HOME PRACTICE
Not everything can be achieved in one session per week and therefore a regular practice at home is essential in order to notice progress. Private sessions provide the student with their own unique practice, one which they can tap into in their own time. This consistent practice allows the student to be mindful of how they move their body and use their mind, both on and off the mat. If you go down the route of private sessions then you’ll find great benefit in using the tailor-made practice in your own time, at home, between sessions.
Effort and commitment are described in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras (1.19 - 1.22) and accomplishment is described as being in direct proportion to your faith and how much time and effort you invest. Makes sense, doesn’t it? If you practice every now and again with little intensity then it will take you a lot longer to reach your goals, on the other hand if you practice often with great faith, you will achieve your goals much faster. That’s what the home practice is for. So go on - roll your mat out!
Whether you decide to venture down the path of private sessions or not, hopefully this has given you a better idea of what sets them apart from group classes. If you do take the time to invest in yourself and go private, then don’t be afraid to get the best from the experience. This is your practice and your incredible journey, enjoy!
by Jenny Dowling - Jenny is passionate about yoga and yoga health. Her love of yoga began at the age of 11 when she was introduced to it by her mother. When Jenny isn't teaching or recording classes for her online yoga members, she is busy looking after her little family (daughter, fiancé and Finnish Lapphund), walking in the nearby moorland or trying out new delicious Ayurvedic and vegan recipes. Connect with Jenny on Facebook or Instagram.