yoga practice as a container

One of the pillars of a strong yoga practice is consistency. With regular, or even daily, practice, the benefits of yoga are longer lasting and more deeply felt. Even so, aside from the select few who have devoted their lives to the practice, most people have multiple priorities—from kids to work to busy social lives—and sometimes it’s their yoga practice that slips through the cracks. As a teacher, one of the yogic gifts you can pass on to your students is showing how the practice can help with these other demands-and how it could become as essential for students as brushing their teeth.

David Life, cofounder of Jivamukti Yoga in New York City, says the way to bring students into the fold during particularly trying times is to offer a practice that’s meaningful and connected: “It has to be topical at any point in time. Yoga shouldn’t be abstract. It should focus on common difficulties.”

Students may have all sorts of external reasons to skip their practice, notes Life, and you can acknowledge those things directly and openly in your classes. “Yes,” he says, “holidays [take people’s attention], but so do the war, elections, political issues, and community issues.” But those things can be brought into your classes as well. Then, Life says, “people come back to class because every time they do, it’s directly applicable to the mind fluctuations they’re going through at that time. It’s essential for people to see a relevancy, for people to go to a yoga class that’s beyond getting a workout.”

Yoga teacher Tias Little agrees. “The practice becomes a container for the way we live our lives,” he says. “I really try to tie it into the time we’re living in now, try to make it contemporary and related to our culture.” Little is based Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he cofounded the YogaSource studio with his wife, Surya. Little says he’ll often use his classes to “have people reflect on the way they are with their families, their jobs, their careers, and have the practice be the foundation from which they live their lives.”

Excerpt from Yoga Journal Article Keeping Students Motivated by By Rachel Brahinsky

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