10,000 Vinyasas

Counting In Sanskrit, and the Benefits of Ken’s Teaching

by on Apr.06, 2011, under teaching, Yoga

For awhile now, I’ve been trying to learn to count in Sanskrit during Suryanamascar. It’s kind of difficult, especially the B, since the count goes up to 17, and the words are relatively unfamiliar, mostly because I learned Ashtanga Primary Series from Ken, who did not count, but instead used descriptive words to get students into the poses (no doubt reflecting his background in teaching yoga at the gym, which was where I met him). It has become clear to me recently that the benefit of learning Primary from this kind of teacher turned out to be that I can quite effectively take new (or newish, I guess) students into the poses easily, using descriptive words. During my attendance at some of the community classes we are required to teach and go to, I noticed that other teachers don’t necessarily have this facility, to their detriment. What this did for me specifically was to allow me to more easily move into teaching, since I had basically memorized without trying, the descriptions of the large number of poses in Primary Series. So, back to counting: I’ve been practicing it during my private lessons, and last night felt confident enough to count the last “B” all the way through (I made it funny by using my “Pattabhi Jois voice”). It was fun, and added a new dimension to teaching. In other notes, I’ve been expanding my pose repetoire to include some Second Series poses, like Dhanuasana, Ustrasana and Bhekasana. I’m sure my longtime students appreciate the variety; I sometimes feel like I’m in a bit of a rut teaching the same order and kind of poses every week (then again, it’s modified Primary, so it should be mostly the same, I suppose).

2 Comments for this entry

  • Becky

    I like descriptive language better than counting for beginners, and there’s usually at least a few beginners.

    My class is mostly modified primary series too. I always teach the same standing sequence and then mix up the seated poses. I love Dhanurasana and Ustrasana, so they get thrown in a lot, especially since primary series doesn’t have a lot of back bends, and a lot of people can’t do Urdhva Dhanurasana.

  • carl

    I know what you mean, Becky. I’ve had some favorable comments on my descriptions of poses and alignment, so I think it’s a really good way to teach “Ashtanga Lite.” Glad to hear your classes are going well.

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