Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Disappointing Encounter

About a month ago, Yoga North held their Fall Open House.  A splendid affair where the studio opens its doors to the community, giving new folks and regulars a chance to take a small demo class of upcoming sessions, meet the instructors, munch on a splendid buffet and browse the books and props and other stuff for sale.

A new to the area gal was directed my way; she was interested in the vinyasa class and wanted to know if it was anything like what she used to take in her former City.  She described to me what she did, and I replied, "Yes, that is similar to my class." 

She didn't seem reassured, so I asked for elaboration on how her class used to be structured, and again, nodded and replied, "Yes, that is similar to how I lead a class."

She still didn't seem reassured, so I elaborated on exactly what I do in any given session. 

I could see doubt continued to linger, and then she asked me, do I give handouts? 

Surprised I had to reply, "No, why do you ask?"

Well, she wanted something to take home to practice.  I had to politely explain that I don't write down my class sequence for any given day because I tend to make it up as I go along.  What I do really depends on who shows up, what someone may request, what kind of mood I am in and what I did in my noon class.  I don't give handouts because people have perceived these as "homework" and for working adults, that is usually ill received. 

Uncertain now myself, I concluded the conversation with encouragement to just come and try out a class, but the encounter left me feeling like I had let someone down.  All because I don't do 'handouts'.   Interesting.

Picture from  Wren in the rain.


Eco Yogini said...

I think another point would be that by giving her handouts, and not being there to guide her and adjust her during her practice, you have no control as to whether the asanas were completed safely.
also- i think it's reasonable that you adjust your sequence per the students who show up to your class. As a teacher i'm sure you're flexible in your sequence- if you've planned an intense, higher level class, and many beginners show up for the class, you'd have to be able to adjust your sequence.
Also- not knowing her practice, her health, probable injuries- it totally makes sense that you wouldn't give handouts.

good for you :)

Kristin said...

Thanks Ecoyogini.

Years ago, when I was a newly minted instructor, the studio wanted me to do handouts and assign homework. I did so, but as the session continued, I grew more and more uncomfortable with this until I finally quietly phased it out.

I remember one person in particular said to me, "I don't like this. I don't like the 'homework' assignments. I come here to relax, not to get more stuff to do."

She was right. Who am I to dictate what someone should do outside of a studio? We all come to class for different reasons. It was a powerful lesson.