The Art of Teaching Yoga One-to-One

The Art of Teaching Yoga One-to-One

In November 2015, I was able to spend a weekend training with Kate Ellis on the Art of Teaching One-To-One organised by Whitespace Yoga Studio. Kate currently teaches on the triyoga Teacher Training and the Yoga Therapy Diploma course run by Yoga Campus.

Kate’s perspective is that teaching one-to-one is the traditional form of learning Yoga asana, and she describes how teaching one-to-one allows the teacher to follow the flow and energy of the student, be more student-led, individually attuned and focused — highlighting the relational aspect of the work and how rich the experience can be for both student and teacher. Although I expect Kate wouldn’t describe herself as a teacher of Ashtanga Yoga, for me her approach resonates strongly with how teaching is done within an Ashtanga Yoga assisted self-practice class, where teaching is one-to-one within a group setting. In Geraldine Beirne’s 2014 article in The Guardian, Geraldine writes:

[…] self-practice is the traditional way of practising ashtanga yoga and offers a highly personalised approach without the price tag attached to one-to-ones, and with all of the group energy of a conventional class. Here, you will be addressed by name, the teacher will know your practice inside out, and best of all, for me at least, this “class” is quiet – there’s very little talking and no new age music.

Kate Ellis workshop, November 2015During the weekend with Kate, we worked through a range of poses in detail. Close attention was paid to what is it that we’re actually asking the human body to do when taking each pose, looking to simplify, and to develop patterns that can inform moving into more complex poses. A lot of the work was done in pairs, practising assessing the stability of the structure formed by the body, and working with some simple assists that support the student without taking them out of awareness or doing the work for them.

You can read more about Kate and her work at http://kateellisyoga.co.uk/, and there are more photos from the workshop on the Whitespace page on Facebook.

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(Photographs from workshop © Whitespace Yoga & Wellbeing Studio 2015)