Facilitation & Yoga

Val, my Yoga teacher, has a great approach.  She manages to teach a whole class while making each student feel like they are of personal interest to her.

There is a problem with this - from the perspective of a blogger/commentator.  While I am 'in the zone' it is difficult to work out quite what Val is doing to achieve this.  And I suspect it would be poor form to say, "Excuse me.  Can we just stop a moment, Val?  What did you do just then? Cos it made me feel special, and it did not seem to impact on the enjoyment of others."

So I have been keeping my eye out.  (Not Yoga 'best practice' I am sure, but at least I am not distracting others this way.)  And what I have observed Val do is:
  1. Not panic - she is calm and measured in her manner and voice at all times.
  2. Observe each of us - she is vigilant without making us feel uncomfortable - this might be called 'paying attention'.  I am sure she knows what she expects to see too, so she can see when we are 'out of place'.
  3. Achieve a natural rhythm - the class involves a sequence of unfolding activities.  We may be told that today we are working on the strength in our lower back or similar, but there is no agenda, and I suspect that Val is open to variation.  (Although without an agenda I cannot be sure of this.) 
  4. Give clear instructions & demonstrate when necessary - Yoga is about a mind body thing.  Val tells us what to do, and shows us too, especially the tricky bits.
  5. Repeat as if for the first time - although Val has said "Lift your left arm back towards the ceiling, then turn your head and look along your left arm towards the ceiling" hundreds of times, it sounds like the first time every time.  And for my left shoulder and neck, it mostly feels like it is the first time.
  6. Keep on-time, subtly - there is a bit of a rush on because a class of exercise bikes follows us, but this hardly impinges on our consciousness, although I am sure that Val is aware of it.
  7. Treat us all with respect - Val seems to like each and every one of us, even when we do awful things to what should be graceful and serene. 
These are pretty subtle.  I had to observe and reflect to see them, and their effect.  As a facilitator, not everything I do is obvious.  An effective workshop is a combination of lots of things.

If you have been to a Yoga class, you could tell us about your experience in the Comments below.