Let’s talk about the benefits to our approach. Since Katarina Yoga started operating in August of 2020, I decided to take a slightly different approach to teaching group classes. Oh heck, let’s go for bold: I decided to do it quite differently.
What you normally see taught at most yoga studios are either set sequences or randomly sequenced classes. These two styles have their benefits. For one, students get a sense of continuity with set-sequences. This is great for a society that is suffering from decision-fatigue. Set sequences foster a sense of safety in an unstable world and allow students to come into a feeling of mastery over the movements they repeat often. On the other end of the spectrum you have randomly sequenced classes and they can feel fun and spontaneous. This is awesome if a person’s life feels a bit hum-drum and in need of more pizzazz (see: lockdown life). For the longest time, I’ve been a strong practitioner and teacher in these styles of classes. This is why I still practice and teach them.
But are they my primary method of practice and teaching today?
Let’s unpack the reasons why.
The key draw-backs to these styles are that they don’t offer a balanced blend of consistency and novelty. Predictability and newness. These styles also do not offer the conditions for the progressive development of strength through the application of the principle of progressive overload. Progressive overload is required for tissues to get stronger so that really tough postures to start to feel accessible (see: chaturanga, toppling tree, warrior 3, arm balances of any kind, etc). For example, you’re very unlikely to get better at chaturanga by doing a zillion chaturangas. You’d need to know how you regress the challenge level of chaturanga to a place where it feels manageable and then build from there.
Given that yoga involves tough postures, wouldn’t it make sense for yoga classes to help students to develop the strength to do the tough postures while in class?
Seems like a no-brainer, right?
At Katarina Yoga, we teach according to a curriculum model where for a few weeks we focus on one area of the body (e.g.: hips, shoulders, core, etc.) or a set family of postures that group well together (e.g.: balancing postures, twisting postures, etc.)
Why do you think that that is?
Well, basically in a yoga class students are learning skills. Things like:
How to breathe using the full range of muscles that facilitate breathing and support one’s nervous system in finding homeostasis
How to engage your glutes (bum muscles) in different ranges of motion
How to get down and up off the floor with ease
How to self-regulate when in challenging situations
How to mobilize and stabilize one’s shoulder blades in their full range of motion
And just like how while in school you graduated from one year to another, in yoga, you can also progress in your learning. People generally learn through an intelligent balance of repetition and novelty.
And guess what?
A combination of repetition and novelty is optimal for a person’s neuro-development, attention span, mental health, tissue health, flexibility, joint range of motion and tissue strength. You feel competent because sequences are repeated for a while and you can see how you progress. Then things change and that holds your attention.
In order to learn any skill, we need a base-line understanding of fundamentals. Once the fundamentals have been grasped, we can start to layer in more complexity and greater load so that our tissues can continue to adapt and develop otherwise they will plateau, or worse, weaken! Betcha didn’t see that one coming.
So yes, we do yoga differently. We are invested in best preparing you for moving well in the body you’ve been gifted in this lifetime!