Your Wants Versus Your Needs

Do you ever pause to consider your wants and needs? This is not a topic I would have considered prior to my yoga studies. Rod, my second teacher, was really clear about this in the sequencing module of my master training. The point is that most people come to yoga knowing what they want - going to the latest yoga trending class, experiencing the new yoga studio, attending a class with a popular teacher, trying out a hot room, etc., but few of them know what they need from yoga. 

I had never considered my wants versus needs in my own yoga journey. I knew what I liked and I thought I knew what made me feel good, but when introduced to this concept I gained insight into my own practice and more importantly what to offer to students.

I’ve learned to teach in a manner that meets the needs of students generally. This comes from both the sequencing skills I’ve learned from studying with an exceptional Hatha teacher and from the training I have received in Ayurveda. It’s important to make classes tri-doshic in that they don’t disturb any one of the doshas unduly. Check out my approach to sequencing by becoming a member of and experiencing my classes.

In my early days of yoga, I mostly focused on basic Hatha classes. I’d never tried any of the flow classes or other forms that were becoming popular. However, after a few years of study with my Ottawa teacher at the time, I was growing restless and wanting more. I found myself at a new studio (the latest shining ball!) and attending Ashtanga classes. These classes were done in a smallish room that started at 83 degrees Fahrenheit, but by the end of the class, it was well over 100 degrees.

The practice is fairly rigorous starting at an introductory level and progresses into more difficult levels of the same sequence. I quickly accelerated in the sequence. My body opened up more. I also injured myself many times. The hot room desensitizes the body and you can’t discern when you’re pushing too hard. Also, the practice is exhausting and ends with shoulderstand then headstand - which are hard to hold. Many of us fell out of these poses. Fingers snapped, bodies were bruised, and joints were twisted, for example. I would sweat profusely through the entire practice.

I thought I was doing something good for my body. Purifying as they say. After studying Ayurveda I realized I was creating an inferno in my pitta body. At night after these classes, I awakened in a soaked bed from profuse sweating. I never connected the dots. My pitta levels were elevated and I was super cranky; anger being a big issue with heightened pitta.

I have the good misfortune of the Ashtanga teacher I adored quitting her class and I didn’t like her replacement. I stopped attending yoga classes and began figuring out my own practice. A couple of years later I did my first teacher training, realizing I wanted - and needed - to know more.

I lucked out because this training included an Ayurveda module. That opened my eyes to a whole new understanding of needs. And later when I studied with Rod the “what and how” to teach became clearer.

If yoga is going to have the transformational effects it purports to offer, it is necessary that teachers have the knowledge, skills and capacity to meet students’ needs. To me, these mean being able to teach more than yoga styles or even a kick-ass physical class. Rather, teachers must understand the main issues affecting students these days and how to address them.

The main issues most practitioners are living with include anxiety, insomnia, constipation, and overall exhaustion. Folks rely heavily on stimulants and depressants to manage their fluctuating energy levels, yes, that includes yoga practitioners. These are vata related conditions and aggravators.

Classes, therefore, need to address high levels of vata designed with elements that increase grounding and balancing while at the same time addressing the proper flow of prana. Stillness in combination with focused movement is essential to meet their needs and their wants.

This is a sample of how I address needs and wants generally. Within each class, there is any number of choices to be made to keep that class engaging and address the want and needs issue.

If you are interested in exploring more about your current needs, feel free to book a free 30-minute consultation with me. I look forward to discussing this with you.

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