That’s What I’m Talking About – Leading a Step Back Flow

So, a little bit ago, I posted that I had a really bad time leading a step back flow (which is kind of a variation on a classical surya namaskara but with asta pranam) instead, where I just forgot everything that I ever knew about yoga, it seemed.  In the last couple of weeks since that experience, I have spent a lot of time practicing step back flow, surya namaskara A, and surya namaskara B.  I practice them on my mat, in my car, in the shower, on breaks at work, and before I fall asleep.  I’ve been going through them a whole bunch.

Yesterday in teacher training was  my first chance to really put it into action, so I volunteered to take the first step back flow.  And, it went pretty well!  Yay!  It wasn’t perfect, at some point I think I muttered “wait, what am I saying?”  But, for the most part, I remembered the poses well enough to not have to really think about them and was able to concentrate more on what people were doing and trying to match my pace to the group.

I did notice a new element to consider, that I had not before.  I’m weirdly unsure of what to do with myself if I’m not demonstrating or adjusting.  I’m working on not always needing to be doing the flows myself to teach them, so yesterday I did not flow along with the class.  I did, however, stay on my mat.  Having nothing to “do,” and not holding anything in my hands to read, I noticed that I didn’t have a clue what to do with my hands.  So, I think that my next project is to begin to move off of the mat, even if I’m not adjusting, or utilizing more hand gestures to try to suggest the flow.  Obviously, students won’t be looking at me very often, so it’s more of an issue for me than them, but I tend to be a major gesturer when I speak and just standing still feels awkward.  Extra awkward I do not need!

So little to do, so much time.  Strike that!  Reverse it!



** Images from  page about Sun Salutations

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7 Responses to That’s What I’m Talking About – Leading a Step Back Flow

  1. yvonne says:

    hey there! I noticed out of the corner of my eye that you specifically did not flow which you were instructing step-back, which reminded me to do the same.

    I had the same realization as well in down-dog during Surya A. I’d told myself I was not going to do the “inhale… exhale…” instructions 5 times, which I’ve noticed we’ve all kind of gravitated towards. So I told myself I was going to 1) not actually do the surya A, and 2) adjust people in 5 breaths of down-dog 🙂 So I was able to get to you and Mike and hopefully it felt good 🙂

    But, I did realize during the silence of 5 rounds of breath that the room was quiet, but then I told myself in a real class, I’d have music going. But all the same (this is a lot of but’s!), next time I want to walk around, adjust, count breaths, AND call out physical cues for down-dog. Or in a real class, maybe bring people back to the theme briefly. How ambitious, huh!

    Enough about me – I thought your stepback was fine, and didn’t hear you muttering to yourself at all! 🙂

    • theveganasana says:

      I was surprised when you adjusted me, but I like it and was quite impressed! I did notice that everyone pretty much said “hold for five breaths,” but I’m not sure most of it really was 5. I’m nervous about Tuesday, so I’m reminding myself – how bad can it be? what’s the worst that can happen? : )

      Thanks for reading!

  2. yvonne says:

    🙁 I think my comment disappeared!

    • theveganasana says:

      It’s here 🙂 The first comment made from an IP address it asks me to approve, and then after that they just show up.

  3. yvonne says:

    (yay, my comments are commenting!)

    I didn’t adjust you because there was anything wrong with your down-dog, for the record 🙂 You were closest, and I’m telling myself 5 breaths is a long time that I can use to practice adjustments on people. Plus, I love getting adjustments (they just feel so good), so I’m hoping I’ll have the same effect.

    Disclosing a very minor pet peeve – is when teachers tell you to hold for X number of breaths and then bring you out of rest poses early. So that’s sort of why I’m wondering (on the gGroup thread) how I can find a better way to count – which is turning out to be hard since there’s so much going on in my head when I’m instructing!

    The worst thing that can happen Tuesday – you might mess up, but then we’ll all just laugh and totally relate, because we’re all in the same place 🙂 So just tell yourself you are among friends! 🙂

  4. Laura Jill says:

    Great post. I’ve been teaching for so long that I forgot I used to think about the same thing. If I’m not adjusting or demonstrating, I’m usually walking around the room, standing to the side, or in the back observing my students in their asanas. I DO demonstrate and adjust a lot, though.

    Good luck!


  5. Maiga says:

    I have felt very similar to what you’re describing and I think some of it is specific to teacher training practice teaching. For starters, kudos on demonstrating less! In a regular class, I think you’ll find that during this time you’ll be watching your students practice to get a sense of what to offer them, which you probably can’t get in training because at this point you’re all pretty familiar with each other’s practices. During TT I tried to never practice teach with a mat so I couldn’t be glued to it. I still pretty much never teach with a mat (but then sometimes have to steal one from students!). It has helped me focus on who I’m teaching more.

    This point in class is interesting too because if you’re trying to introduce a theme or some big idea for the class I always find the flows a challenge because you really just have to offer movement and breath cues. I usually find that I may practice the first one of each with a new student and on the second (and with time more) watch the students to be aware of cues I can offer or adjustments I can make. I don’t adjust a lot in the flows just cause it’s tough to get in and out quick enough.

    Bear in mind: adho mukha svanasana is not a resting pose. I hear all the time, and often use this 5 breath point in my classes as an opportunity to give much more detailed cues on down dog. Externally rotating shoulders, internally rotating thighs, etc. I may also revisit the theme here or begin adjusting a bit more.

    When I first began teaching a lot of the challenge was memory of class plan or trying to hold the choreography together. At a certain point I shifted focus to the students– paying attention to their practice, their needs, what can be offered. That’s harder to do in TT because folks gain a lot of awareness with their own practices but I think you’ll find quickly in your practice teaches. Once you can focus on your student’s needs a lot of these issues resolve themselves. Your attention will be on so and so who may need help relaxing their shoulders, or shifting their stance, and suddenly your hands will be involved as you articulate that idea, demonstrate, or adjust.

    (BTW giving yourself permission to mess up and be human is so great. I remember in our TT Colleen said to Andrea, “You’re really good at being human.” I always think of that. Just go ahead and be really human. I always think if my students laugh in class it was a good class. Whatever gets us out of our heads, into our breath, into our bodies, and lighter, is a beautiful offering!)

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