“So, what do you do in a private session anyway?” It seems I’ve been fielding this question a lot lately.
Curious about private yoga instruction? One of my favorite things about teaching is when I get to spend time one-on-one with a student. Sure, there are short moments before, during, and after class, where you can focus on a single student and over time you get a better understanding of their goals and challenges. But, the opportunity to really dive in and buoy another yogi’s practice is such a privilege for both student and teacher.
Many yogis can benefit from a little one-on-one time and like each yogi, each private session is unique. Here are just a few of the scenarios or types of sessions that might occur.
Beginners – Just getting into yoga? Can’t tell a Warrior 1 from a Warrior 2? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. An instructor who is approachable, knowledgeable, and has experience with beginners can help you along. New yogis who want to get a little more comfortable with the basics and what to expect from a class can definitely benefit. Taking the time to familiarize yourself with the practice, ask lots of questions, talk about concerns, learn basic alignment, and understand when to use props, can help yogis feel more comfortable and at ease as they begin to practice. Check with your friends for recommendations on teachers who will fit well with your personality.
Injury or Physical Challenge – Whether you are just coming out of physical therapy or modifying for a physical challenge, a private session can help you make the most of your practice and keep you safe. Be sure to check with your doctor or healthcare provider about practicing yoga before you get started. Pass any helpful information on to your instructor before your session, so they can be prepared. I recommend that you ask if an instructor has experience with your situation and if they are comfortable working with you. If not, ask them to recommend someone who would be a good fit. In one-on-one sessions for injury or physical challenge proper use of props, pose modifications, and restorative practices might be included. Bringing your challenges out into the open can also have a wonderfully cathartic affect as well.
Bucket List – A great time for private instruction is when you are working towards a specific goal or working to deepen your practice. Sometimes in class when working on a challenging posture or concept we want to ask questions, explore feelings, and deepen our understanding, but the group environment is just not as conducive as a private one. If you’ve had thoughts like, “I’d love to handstand, but I’m really freaked out about my feet leaving the floor, I’m working towards dropping back into a backbend, what poses should I be practicing to get there?, or I want work on keeping the cadence of my breath as I practice”, then this type of session is for you. Bucket lists can include pranayama, meditation, chanting, ayurveda, and other yoga concentration areas, it doesn’t have to be focused on a poses. Finding a teacher should be easy, just pick one that you enjoy practicing with and who is familiar with your practice. If you’re not sure, check with the studio on teachers who have experience in your concentration area.
TLC – Feeling overworked or depleted? Need a little softness and tender, loving care? A private restorative session might be in order. This is great for anyone who is feeling overrun. It’s also great for high performance athletes to balance out all that hard work and promote recovery. Restorative yoga requires lots of bolsters, blocks, blankets, sandbags, and other props to make sure your body is supported and cradled throughout the practice. Many instructors will use essential oils to add to the “ahhhhh” affect, so be sure to share if you have any allergies or skin sensitivities. Select an instructor with a nourishing bedside manner and of course, experience with restorative yoga.
Tune Up – One of things that happens when we practice on the mat and in life, is the development of samaskaras or habits. These are not necessarily good or bad, we develop them because we are not focusing or paying attention. We act in a mindless, auto-pilot way. Working with an instructor can help you point out those little habits that you’ve created overtime. For example, I discovered that I short-change my inhale during Sun Salutation A when I come into up-dog. Bringing focus this this aspect of my practice has helped me to improve. You can select a teacher who is familiar with your practice, but a fresh set of eyes might be helpful too. A teacher with a good eye will be able to help you refine your practice by helping you find those samaskaras and also by finding areas where you can enhance or elevate your practice.
Group Class – Okay, so technically, this isn’t one-on-one, but it’s still a great use of private instruction time and the focus is solely on the small group in the private class. A private group class can be a great way to celebrate a wedding, birthday, college reunion, or any other excuse to get friends together. It can also allow for focused instruction for common interests and goals like beginners, new moms, sports teams, or work colleagues. Work with your instructor to find the right energy and focus of the class, or ask the studio to match the right instructor to your group.
There are about a million other ways you can approach a one-on-one session, so if you’re not sure, just ask. The venues are endless as well. Sessions can be held at the studio, in private homes, at work, and just about anywhere else you can fit a mat. A one-on-one session will typically run 45 to 90 minutes, work with your instructor to create the perfect set of variables.
Whether you are new or an experienced practitioner, make sure you are in good health and yoga is a good fit for you. If you have any concerns, check with your doctor or healthcare provider to make sure you are healthy enough for your chosen practice.