Group practice is one of my big loves. I was taught how to practice by someone who loves to practice in general and loves practice in good company in particular. So it has always been natural for me and a huge source of joy. And as I have said for years on promotional flyers, I have always learned the most in group practice settings. There is something so profound for me about practicing along side my teachers and peers that lifts me up and shines light into fresh and unknown territory. I have also found that as a teacher when I am in my breathe and in my body and in the postures alongside my students, my ability to articulate the subtleties of the actions and the forms is heightened. My capacity to receive and transmit as both a student and a teacher is accentuated in a group practice setting.
None of this is to say that I teach my public classes this way. I do not. For me the distinction between group practice and public classes is very clear. (the only exception that I make to this is if I ever have a class of 6 or under- if a class is ever this small, I am on my mat. I have a very real boundary there that works well for me.) Not that I think that there is anything wrong with how other teachers choose to teach their classes. I really don't. I was brought up in a method where we were taught to absolutely never practice while we teach. While I subscribed to that view for many years, I now find it, as well as most hard and fast rules, far too dogmatic for me at this point in my life of practice. I choose to find my own way and what works best for me and I hope to create space for others to do the same.
I have been teaching in the Madison area for the last 3.5 years, and in Wisconsin for the past 10 years. It has been my biggest aim during that time to engender in students a love of practice, on their own and in the company of others. I have endeavored to do this in the context of public classes, but more so through the group practices and the mentorship programs that I have run over the past few years. It has been such a profound joy for me to watch many individuals deepen their personal relationships to yoga and really let the practice take root in their lives. My feeling of success in this was made so clear just a few weeks ago when I invited a local teacher, whom I enjoy practicing with, to lead my Sunday Group Practice. He has a much different background than I do and I enjoy his teaching greatly. To my total delight all of my regular folks received him so beautifully. They were open and respectful and earnest and hard working. They expressed to me and to him such skilled studentship. I really couldn't help but feel incredibly proud of them, and of myself too I suppose.
So, as my kids and I get ready to pull up roots and follow our man out west later this year, I find myself taking stock of my contribution to yoga in Madison. During my time left in the midwest I want to pump as much life and love as I can into the local practice community. I am going to continue to offer a once monthly Asana Junkies Practice (based off of the amazing practice project by Christina Sell.) I am also adding Friday Practices at least 2 times per month through the end of May. Most of these practices will be led by local teacher Scott Lamps, and some by me. My hope here is to really pass the torch of Madison Group Practice on- not just to Scott, but to the group who has been building over the past several years, so that the community of practice continues to grow full and rich long after I have moved.
I am really looking forward to this. From my vantage point is seems that the vibrancy and momentum of the Madison Yoga Scene is just beginning to unfold. I am so happy to be a part of it and so thrilled to see what happens.