Friday, October 16, 2009


Tired, slept in this morning and it felt good. After I walked the dog, I did a 30 minute yoga practice from YogaDownload, Detox Yoga #2 with Natalie. It was so bad, I don't know if I'll bother trying any of the longer sequences for this particular class, which is a shame because this is one of the few that is offered in a 70 minute format.

My biggest complaints are the really bad sequencing and horrible cueing. Both made it difficult to follow the practice. Several times I came into Balasana in frustration so I could listen and figure out where the heck she was going.

The music was awful. I know this is a matter of taste, but it ranged from 'powder puff soft rock' to 'tribally inspired soft jazz' (think 'Yanni goes to a rave' and you'll be on the right track). I don't like Natalie's voice - again, a matter of personal preference. I found her style of speaking very 'info-mercial'. Her pacing was erratic - at times speaking slowly and clearly (good) while at other times speaking very quickly and slurring her words together (not good).

She used names for poses that I had never heard before. I've been practising yoga for 15 years around the world, so I was surprised. For example: Standing Splits. She referred to it as 3-limbed Uttanasana and I was all, “Huh?!” And there were others. I think she called Parsvokonasana “Extended Lateral Angle”. Weird...

I was struck by how few postures were offered in the 30 minute sequence, given how much she was talking. There wasn't enough good instruction to let me know what was going on and at the same time, it wasn't concise enough.

Finally, I was horrified by some of the 'advanced' variations she suggested. A few were valid, but she clearly 'invented' a couple of them and one of them ('Challenge Dog') is dangerous to the shoulder (rotator cuff) and I would *never* ask my students to do it. The transitions were choppy and poorly thought out (this was more of a Hatha class than a 'Flow'). For example, the entry into Ardha Matsyendrasana was so bad, I had to come out of the pose and come back in *my* way to align my spine.

As a teacher, I've learned some great stuff from these audio classes. Overall, I think the instructors are good and doing these classes has helped me clean up my cueing a lot. The one positive from this class is I spent 30 minutes experiencing how *not* to teach yoga. I'll be analyzing my own classes so I can avoid these mistakes.


Michelle said...

Love the commentary. So funny. I hope that Natalie doesn't get wind of this post. ;)

Kaivalya said...

It's probably nothing she hasn't heard before. When you put yourself 'out there' as a teacher, the whole world becomes a 'peanut gallery.'

I have students who have followed me around the city for years and adore me, while there are others who walked out in disgust after the very first class. You kind of become immune to this stuff.

But in retrospect, I hope I didn't hurt poor Yanni's feelings by using his name and the word 'rave' in the same sentence ;-)

susananda said...

Sounds awful.. I'd love to know what 'challenge dog' is??

Kaivalya said...

I'm happy to tell you, Susan, just promise me you won't try this at home! ;-)

From Downward Facing Facing Dog, splay your elbows to the side and lower your chest to the floor. Arching of the back wasn't mentioned, but that's what happened when I tried it. With elbows still splayed, try to push yourself back up.

Basically, it's a Chaturanga Gone Bad.

I just glanced at the 'cheat sheet' of poses for that class and it looks like Challenge Dog is supposed to be Downward Facing Dog with the forearms on the floor.

But if that's the case, why didn't she just say so? It's so simple: "From Downward Facing Dog, bring your forearms to the floor on the exhalation, press through your hands to straighten your arms on the exhalation.

Like I said, *really* bad cueing.

susananda said...

Aha. We call forearm dog 'dolphin', but you don't stick your elbows out to the sides, quite the opposite! Weird.

Kaivalya said...

Aha, yes. We sometimes call it 'dolphin' too. But really, why use generally understood names for yoga poses when you can make up something obscure and confuse people? ;-)