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private yoga

Meet B. He’s a successful corporate guy. He did some yoga and running and stuff. Then, he decided to take my four-part private yoga session package. Two months later, he reported this: “Trusting in my higher Self is now standard operating procedure.” And ya know what he came in for in the first place? Better glutes.

Okay, so B. also came because he wanted to improve his ability to make empowering choices. And, when we went about it systematically, he got the butt and the ‘bility.

It was only in the last year when I got all up in my own face and said, “Mary, you know onesie-twosie private sessions aren’t gonna get people very far. Why don’t you set up something designed for best results? If coming once won’t do jack for ‘em, tell ‘em what will. That’s what being a responsible practitioner is.” And I put together a package and a system to get clients some real traction.

We get more traction to change what we’ve been wanting to change when we work on it directly and with consistency. A private session package is built for this.

They’re so effective that there’s even a 30-day Yoga Teacher Blog Tour on teaching private yoga. I’m today’s featured blogger, yo! Check out yesterday’s stop on the tour with Julian Walker, and tomorrow look and see what Tina Binden has to say. Me? I’m giving you the goods on my (100-fold value) system.

Commitment? 2+ months

If you look at scientific studies involving yoga (hail, yogeeks!), they are a minimum duration of six weeks. Changes to muscle, connective tissue, blood vessels, central nervous system, and endocrine system require repetition over a duration of time before the effects show up. So, I knew I had to set up something that would have an adequate timeframe. I went with two months. It worked pretty well for B., huh?

Frequency? 2 weeks-ish

How often to see someone? Here’s where the psychology of motivation comes in. If I know I have to meet with my teacher again in two weeks, and she gives me something to do, I wanna do it. I wanna be ready to move forward the next time I see her. So, just having a next appointment set up is important.

How far out to set it? My system for setting appointments with clients goes like this: “I generally recommend two weeks. If you need some clarification or something doesn’t feel right, we can meet sooner. Just contact me and let me know.”

Clients with inflammatory conditions like arthritis could feel great at the session, but feel like hell when they try to go to bed. It’s the nature of these conditions that the amount of movement that will cause inflammation later isn’t easy to predict. So, I frontload with a caution to really pay attention to the after-effects. I’m straight-up about it, my client is prepared for this possibility, and knows what to do about it. And this: it empowers people who have often been disempowered by previous medical challenges and approaches.

Content? intention and appropriate emphasis

I make it relevant. I take the time set an intention with my clients for their two-month practice. I write it down for them. I encourage them to say it silently before they get out of bed every day (dinacharya, anyone?) and at the beginning of every practice. This ensures we are treating more than a couple vertebrae or a knee. We are treating the whole person.

This is where it gets cool, yogeeks. I organically fell into following the lead of the yogic five kosha model with my private session clients. Physical body emphasis first, energy/breath body later, then mental/emotional mind, then wisdom mind, then that bliss body thang, then boom – there they are at their Source.

Now don’t get me wrong – this doesn’t mean I’ll hold back on breathwork or meditation techniques that could be really effective for clients from day one. It just means that the client’s experience of these techniques will be cued from more of a physical context, and the sophistication of the techniques offered will match the client’s level of exposure to yoga. Start with the obvious, move to the subtle.

And I wait to move on. The level of attention I’m asking someone to put in to aligning that hip through that refined movement takes a lot of energy. It’s plenty for most people.

So how do I decide when to switch my emphasis to the next kosha, then? When my client tells me. When a client says, like B. did, that the energizing bow pose he’s doing is making it hard for him to be restful in savasana, it means he hasn’t only built some energy (prana), but he’s sensitive to it. He’s ready for more emphasis on breath and energy. When a client’s awareness becomes more subtle like this, they have a direct experience of the next level rather than me telling them about it.

Documentation? oh yeah.

I write it all down – intention, stick figure poses, diagrams, important cues and motivational concepts. This content is hugely valuable and unheard of in many medical and wellness modalities. Not only did I just guide a client through a direct experience of positive change, but I transcribed it, too? Yeah. I’m badass like that.

And it works why?

Private sessions are the most efficient way for anyone to make progress – in yoga practice and in connected living. A long-time student and group class regular, M., got in this week for a private session for the first time in two years. Crow pose was her new conquest. In that one session, I observed her – only her – as she set up and approached crow. Then I told her some simple but very custom cues that I wouldn’t normally give to a whole general group. And she hit it right there.

Whether it’s the undivided attention of a teacher in nailing crow pose or in breath interventions for anxiety, private sessions are the best way to “get it.” M. was elated. She was empowered. And I bet she’ll be teaching crow to her grandkid soon.

More on the Yoga Teacher Blog Tour here.

yoga teacher tour


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