I've gone minimal

I used to write complete plans for every yoga class I taught. Details on every posture, every cue, every prop. I was flicking through some of these old plans the other day and noticed just how much my teaching style has changed.

  1. It seems I used to try and impart every single thing I knew, in just one class. Bloody hell.
  2. I used to talk a lot. Too much.
  3. My stick figures were dubious. At best.
  4. I wasn't nearly as creative.
  5. I was a bit OCD. Too prescriptive. My handwriting was much neater. Perhaps the neatness got in the way of creativity.
  6. Light bulb moments were few and far between.

Hmm.

I'll never throw these plans out. The tattered red book reminds me of how far I've come. It reminds me of the importance of developing a foundation, a voice, a style. It's also a reminder that we do the best with what we have at the time.

After trekking Milford Sound with only a few necessary items on my back, I realised my teaching style is becoming very minimalistic. You don't need one hundred ways to meditate. You just need one way that works. You don't need 14 different backbends. You just need one way to extend your spine. One accessible way. You don't need seven different ways to feel grounded, just one that feels familiar and works.

This is what the last page in my red book says:

  • Who is in front of you?
  • What is their greatest need?
  • What is the simplest thing in my toolbox to fulfil that need?
  • How can I describe it simply?

The important thing with going minimal is pairing it with awareness. Because you're not buying, eating, doing, earning, making or saying much, it's important that what you are buying, eating, doing, earning, making and saying hits the nail on the head. You don't have surplus, a big net that will inevitably hold something you do need while buried under ten tons of sh*t you don't.

The tricky thing with awareness is that it's not fixed. It's so fleetingly fluid. What you needed yesterday, might not serve today. If you don't notice the change, you'll go out and buy, eat, do, earn, make or say something you don't need today.

Me as a minimalist teacher:
I generally start every class in one of three ways. You might not have noticed this but what I'm doing is noticing. Who is in front of me? What is their greatest need? What body have they bought to class today? How's their bad back? They look tired. They look angry. Distracted.

Me as a minimalist yoga student:
I sit quietly for a moment. Reflect. How have I been using my body for the past 12 hours? Moving or sleeping. How do I feel right now? What is my greatest need? Do I need to wake up properly and start a very busy day or do I need to let go of my day and slow down for sleep?

The start of the forage into minimalism is the hardest. Who are you? What is your greatest need?