Updated: Jan 18, 2022
I've always loved the basics, whether it's yoga, writing, or teaching.
There's something so important and interesting to me about practicing the fundamentals of any skill, craft, or interest, even when you become more advanced. The fundamentals are steady and comforting but never boring. And given the craziness of the world right now, I find myself diving back to the fundamentals in my repertoire.
The basics of any skill or pedagogy have always held my interest. In all the years I taught at colleges and universities, I much preferred teaching developmental writing and helping students work on the fundamentals. I wasn't particularly interested in teaching more advanced classes, as I knew my strengths were best suited to students looking for the formative kinds of groundwork that would allow them to understand themselves.
I felt the same in teaching yoga. And while the fundamentals of any subject may appear to be less challenging than more advanced material, teaching the basics effectively requires even more skill.
As a yoga instructor and practitioner, I am far more engaged with the basics than other kinds of complex poses or endeavors. Basic breath work is hard, sitting quietly is hard, turning your brain off is hard, long yin holds are hard. But even after you "master" some of these basics, there are endless subtle variations and nuances to incorporate so that the basics don't stay basic. What happens if you move your legs an inch further away from your body? What happens if you hold the pose another minute? What happens when you realize that what you're doing is more than enough? No matter how advanced my students or clients are,
I always incorporate the basics in any class or session, because BASICS ARE ADVANCED.
If you want to be a good teacher, you need to understand your students and how they learn. And how they learn is not necessarily how you learn. I believe the two most important fundamentals of good teaching are less is more and repetition. You're building new neuropathways in the brain to get the information to stick. You're creating a felt experience in the body so things become more effortless. Too much information is overwhelming, distracting, and unnecessary. The fundamentals, if taught well, will never leave you.
Currently, I have the pleasure of taking a four-week chakra meditation course with my original Yin teachers, Paul and Suzee Grilley. This course is an introduction to chakra meditation through a yogic context and includes both philosophy and practicum. Am I an experienced meditator? Yes. Am I an experienced yogini? Yes. Am I an experienced spiritual practitioner and teacher? Yes. Am I getting new insight from the course? Yes. Am I coalescing ideas from the course with the work I already do? Yes. Have the basics always been there? Yes. Is my body perceiving them differently now? Yes.
Progress and expansion occur in stages, phases, pieces. And it's not linear.
Often times after you work through a big emotional layer, your body has to play catch up. Vibrationally, the physical body is the slowest part of us, and practicing the basics can integrate the different layers. We can practice the same yoga poses or meditation every single day and have a different experience each time because the fundamentals are the constant for our ever changing evolving awareness.
I encourage you to go back to the basics of whatever you already love doing and allow that to be a steady and a shifter. Notice what's changed, what's still relevant, and what can now be expanded upon to allow for next steps in your process. The basics always have your back. And if you need support on your journey back to your fundamentals, feel free to schedule a complimentary Discovery Session: