The yoga workshop planning muse

So, I’m in my conservatory, sitting on a blue gym ball, meditating. Outside the birds are more vocal than usual and I’m wondering whether something significant is going on in the bird calendar. Intermittently, I’m tuning into my breath. Not a perfectly focussed meditation the way the perfectionist in me would like, but I have to say there’s something about hearing the birds that fills the same place that perfect attention to the breath would bring. A heightened awareness, a sense of peace.

On the standing desk in the conservatory I have a child’s scrapbook left over from when my nephew and niece were younger. It’s got blue and green pages inside its beach scene cover. Blank pages. This is what I’ve been using to jot and shape my ideas for the Yoga Workshop I’ll be teaching in just under a week.

It occurs to me that this is another place where yoga and writing meet.

When people talk about writers’ block, the image used is often of sitting staring at a blank screen or a piece of paper, and the sensation is fear. There are writing practices designed to get you over that hurdle, to teach you to spill words and not be afraid of the blank page and they are wonderful things. You can get some real gems that way, but I tend to find it leads to a lot of rework. When I was training as a yoga teacher, I had class planning templates to fill; and a huge number of yoga postures to choose from and a similar fear. Because a class isn’t an arrangement of yoga postures, it’s something else. Just like a story isn’t an arrangement of words.

A good yoga class has concepts and structure and themes. There’s a natural flow to it. It comes slowly, growing over time, as you consider the essence of what you are trying to share. I plan classes best when I don’t rush to that blank page, when I allow the ideas to surface while I’m doing other things: when I’m sitting on a blue gym-ball, intermittently watching the breath and tuning in to the bird song, or when I stand up after a day’s writing and notice which limbs and joints need attention, or when a conversation about yoga has clarified a thought. When these ideas surface I capture them. Not just in words, but in diagrams and stick figures, using different coloured pens. Gradually, the class takes shape. Ideas get tested, and perhaps they get shifted or changed, because nothing is concrete, nothing has been solidified, I’m just jotting down notes.

So when I finally approach that blank A3 page to plan my workshop it’s pretty much there already. It means less rework. It means I haven’t committed to my first ideas which allows for flexibility. It’s the balance between structure and flow. It works for yoga workshop planning and it works for writing.