Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Dodo bird Yoga

Aahh, the "yoga without chanting" article has been submitted and I'm finally catching up with my life. Despite the fact that I love writing--and love that some one will pay me to do it--I get very anxious trying to meet a deadline. The muse is fickle, that's for sure.

This article was inspired by an earlier post and all of your responses. It made me think that people might be interested in the idea of teaching a class without Ohms or mantras, and I wanted some hard facts about the benefits of such a class.

I interviewed Donal MacCoon, a researcher at Univ. of Wisconsin--Madison, whose research has focused on the effectiveness of Mindfulness. His study was influenced by earlier work done by Saul Rosenzweig in the 1930s. Rosenzweig wanted to see what it was about different psychotherapies that made them work. What he found was that it wasn't so much that a specific approach that was better than another, but that the therapist was well-versed in the cure and believed it worked. A patient would have positive results with any number of therapies, if s/he had a good therapist.

This seems to follow in studies of such mind-body practices as yoga, Mindfulness, and meditation. It doesn't matter so much how or what you practice, but that you are confident the method you choose will help you and you trust your teacher. If you have a dedicated Kundalini teacher, who has a beautiful chanting voice and you enjoy vocalization in class, the class will benefit you. If your teacher is a powerful Ashtanga teacher and you love the energy of Sun Salutes, the class will benefit you.

MacCoon suggested (although it hasn't been tested yet) that you could probably take a class of made-up poses and, if the teacher was articulate and engaging, the class would benefit you. I kinda love that--puts a big hole through the argument that one yoga is "better" than another.

So celebrate your training and teach what you love. Your students will reap the benefits of your enthusiasm and you can be confident that you are helping them. It's all good.

The Rosenzweig study is referred to as the Dodo bird conjecture, because he quoted Alice in Wonderland at the beginning of the paper. I think it's appropriate for this post, too:

"At last the Dodo said, 'Everybody has won, and all must receive prizes!"


nadinefawell.net said...

Yeah, I pretty much agree with that, from my experience. It's the relationship between teacher and student, and defintely the enthusiasm of the teacher, that makes all the difference. I have had power yoga teachers I loved, and ones I didn't. I have been to Iyengar classes I loved, and ones I didn't....you get the picture. Relationship. Is all. And I suspect that I regularly teach made up poses! Haha.

PetalsYoga said...

An enthusiastic yes from this side of the world. I regularly teach "throw in the kitchen sink" kind of classes and my students seem to love it. For world laughter day yesterday we giggled in tree pose and ended up in silent legs up the wall. Take chances, stay focused on the student's needs, and believe in what you do with all of your soul. I still can't believe I get paid to help make people feel good...what a great vocation.

Rachel said...

I agree. It's the trust that counts.

From a teacher's point of view there is something about the relationship with the students too. For example I have a gentle class of older ladies who love to chant and meditate. Whereas I have another class of younger people who want 13 sun salutations and to hold plank for as long as possible :)

As long as everyone feels they are in a supported, welcome and trustful environment the mindfulness will come.

Grace said...

I agree too. I really like my new teacher, and she's more spiritual than other teachers I have had. I know others did not resonate with her for that reason, and a few years ago I might not have either, but it's just what I need at this point.

Funny that you should mention Alice in Wonderland; I just posted a quote from that book last night.

Eco Yogini said...

I can see how this finding would be controversial (especially with followers of Bikram- being highly coveted and patented). But I think this mindset allows the teacher and student to grow within what is possible and best for them. Allowing more freedom and flexibility during practice and life. :)

I especially like the picture of the Dodo! :)