When I taught yoga full-time, before becoming a PT, my classes were classified as “beginner” level on studio schedules. I taught beginner yoga classes. However, the majority of my class attendees were people with 10-20, sometimes over 30 years experience practicing yoga!
What’s up with that?
Students in my yoga classes used to tell me that they wanted a class that felt challenging. When the vigorous power flow styles weren’t a good fit, studio staff often directed them towards a beginner or gentle class instead.
But what if they wanted a higher level of physical intensity than your typical beginner or gentle class? What they were actually looking for was a class that met them where they were, helped to build them up, and fostered an environment of belonging. A class that asked them to rise to challenges and test boundaries in safe, accessible, and intentional ways.
Through all my years in yoga, meditation, fitness, movement, strength and conditioning, physical therapy…one constant has remained:
People want to feel like they are welcome, deserving of care and attention, and provided with options that appropriately meet their needs.
It’s always been my goal to make space for people seeking way more than “gentle” but not intimidating, overly aggressive, or unsafe.
- I want the activities I present to feel challenging AND I want to see that everyone is able to participate in the whole class.
- I want to help folks nudge limitations forward and be successful.
- I love to see students working at a high level of intensity, focus, and purpose in a way that is sustainable.
This is still my primary focus, both in physical therapy treatment and in the group classes I teach.
If you’ve ever been to a group class and asked to do things that feel “dodgy” or way outside your experience base, maybe you’ve had to skip components of the class altogether and sit it out.
Does this ring a bell?
We all need options, at times, to work at a level that feels appropriate. To meet ourselves with the right level of intensity on any given day.
Because, life factors create fluctuations in our tolerance levels, energy levels, and abilities to cope. We need to be provided with enough education and choices that we can determine for ourselves what feels right at any moment.
This is autonomy. Autonomy is my jam.