by Joey Phoenix
We all need a little help right now de-stressing our lives, and there are a million options for how to do that – which is as delightful as it is terrifying. Yet, not all of us can just deep dive into advanced meditation or Yoga, some of us need a softer approach.
Chrissy V. from Rebel Yell Yoga – known for hosting pop up rock and roll yoga classes around the North Shore in addition to her moon energy and seasonal workshops – is one of the local Yoga Practitioners who just gets that right now, people don’t need to be working toward a King Pigeon or Peacock pose, maybe they just need to re-center, focus on their breath, and show their body a little love and care.
“Some of the most effective Yoga is you sitting in a room meditating, you’re not doing the Asana, you’re not doing the poses, you’re not doing a headstand, you’re sitting and you are going inward,” Chrissy said. “That is true yoga.” While quickly adding that she, personally, loves the movement practice.
“It has these wonderful effects on our body. It takes us out of our mind, but it’s in our body, and makes us feel good,” she added.
With that in mind, she’s been teaching a number of virtual classes including virtual coffee breaks on Creative North Shore each Monday, live streams on her Rebel Yell Facebook page each Wednesday at 12, and Lunar Flow on the Moon + the Mat’s live stream each Thursday evening. At the moment, her classes are donation-based and available to everyone.
And for many of these, she’s joined by her sweet dog Lucy, who just loves the attention.
Yet, making the switch to online teaching wasn’t something that she wanted to do initially. The connection she built with students during in-person classes allowed her to tailor her teachings to their skill levels and guide all levels through the practice in a safe and nourishing environment.
But with the world going online, and other area yoga teachers deciding to take their practices online coupled with feedback from her students saying that they missed her classes, she decided to take the leap, and she was surprised by what she discovered.
“This [whole situation] has led to some really cool connections,” she said. “I’ve actually been able to practice with my teacher who now lives in Western Mass a couple times a week because she’s been running classes. And my friends from the music scene who live in Boston or South Shore who have had a hard time getting to my classes in the past are able to tune in now.”
Despite these perks, teaching classes online also comes with many challenges. For example, how does an instructor teach to the room when they can’t see their students.
“If I have people show up to class who maybe haven’t been practicing as long or maybe it’s just one of those days where everyone’s just feeling tired, you could read that off of people in real life, but when you’re teaching on a live feed, and you can’t see what your students are doing, is harder to figure that out,” she said.
And she isn’t the only one experiencing this dissonance, and teachers are trying to figure out how to teach Yoga responsibly, especially when YouTube is overrun by Yoga practitioners doing advanced poses and not caring if their example is potentially causing harm to someone trying to do Yoga at home.
“There’s this responsibility I feel to be an effective teacher and to be an effective communicator, so that people who are coming to this practice in a virtual-based pandemic world that they are really getting what they can out of this and not doing things in their body that or their mind that could hurt them,” she said.
“There’s a lot of bad yoga out there, a lot of it.”
But it’s not all bad. The trick is in finding a Yoga instructor who is experienced enough to understand the needs of all-level yoga students, and can offer real-time adjustments and options to poses so that everyone can meet the practice where they are at.
For example, if someone is attending an online class who just had hip surgery, the teacher should be able to recognize that not all poses work for everyone, and be able to provide a variation to students that will be restorative, no matter where they’re coming from.
“For students, my recommendation is that If you’ve never taken yoga before and you want to start, ask your friends who do take classes and who do practice for their teacher suggestions,” she added.
“And for teachers, I definitely think it’s really important to recognize the responsibility we have to those new students.”
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