Receiving Assistant(s)

My weekend at Kripalu is full enough that I’ll need to bring an assistant. I’m delighted that Donia Robinson, owner of the Carrboro Yoga Company, has agreed to join me. Donia is a whiz at using props, which comes in very handy for athletes. She has taught a class called “How to Cheat at Yoga,” a title that amuses me despite my aversion to cheating. (Ask Ford’s head of social media about my Twitter response to the F-150 ad that implicates the viewer in cheating in high school science class!) The point was that props can be a shortcut to “success,” inasmuch as success is our goal in asana.

Donia’s approach will help students see how to make the poses work for them at home, without needing someone to move them into each pose. In general, I’m pretty hands-off as a teacher. While I’ve been given some wonderful adjustments by assistants in workshops—most notably, by the very capable staff of Yoga One in Charlotte at last year’s Baron Baptiste immersion—I feel athletes, especially endurance athletes, don’t want to be touched much. Beryl Bender Birch gave me a great quote on the topic in an interview on teaching athletes: “It’s very easy to injure an elite athlete by coming on too heavy handed in the hands-on traditions. They’re strong and very tight. It’s like a guitar string that you tighten up and tighten up to get the highest possible resonance. But then you just turn it the tiniest bit and it explodes. It’s the same thing with hands-on work with athletes.”

One place adjustments are universally great, in my opinion: savasana. And in the context of a three-day weekend, it’s especially sweet to get some aid settling in. Kripalu-goers, expect deep relaxation!

I am also planning to offer a sampler class on the evening of Saturday, February 7, 7:30–9:00. So if you are at Kripalu for another workshop, or simply live nearby and would like to check out my teaching style, please come!

Donia will assist at my workshop on yoga for strength January 24, 2–4 p.m. at the Carrboro Yoga Co. Please join us there, or at Kripalu in February.

And let me know: how do you feel about adjustments in class?