Saturday, 18 January 2014

Book Review: Teaching Yoga, Adjusting Asana by Melanie Cooper

I have been given the opportunity to review my first book for Yoga Matters, many thanks to Gemma for the opportunity, and I hope I can do it the justice it deserves.

Firstly it comes in a nice, compact A5 size, ring bound form, perfect for travelling. It has 11 chapters:

1.Teaching Yoga
2.Teaching Ujjayi Breathing
3.Teaching the Bandhas
4.Teaching the Drishti
6.Teaching the Spiritual Aspects of Yoga
7.Ethics for Yoga Teachers
8.Teaching Points
9.Teaching the Sanskrit Count
10.Deepening the Primary Series

Here's a brief outline from the publisher..

Leading yoga teacher trainer Melanie Cooper brings you the essential 
handbook for teaching yoga and adjusting asana (yoga poses). 

The first part explores fundamentals of teaching in a simple, clear, accessible way. Melanie covers how to teach crucial concepts such as breath, bandha and drishti, as well as more general topics including injuries, ethics and the spiritual aspects of yoga. 

In the second part of the book there are helpful techniques for deepening common yoga postures and a complete guide to hands-on adjustment for the Ashtanga Primary Series. 

With a wealth of information, clear writing, and fresh, detailed 
photography, this is an invaluable resource for qualified yoga teachers, 
student teachers, and yoga students who want to take their practice to 
the next level.
The book is primarily teaching ashtanga yoga, but specifically in a gym setting where it's not normally possible to teach the Mysore way. This is very helpful as the book covers all the possible scenarios and issues which can arise through teaching general classes.

I have trained in both the British Wheel of Yoga style (which is big on safety and teaching all aspects of yoga) and in a more traditional apprenticeship approach under the guidance of my teacher. Through these trainings I have developed a style whilst teaching in gyms/businesses etc which brings together both aspects of these teachings. I'm happy to say that Melanie's book teaches ashtanga in the same way, an intelligent approach to teaching what is a challenging series.

I also like the fact that she suggests extra reading material based on her ow research and it's ncie to see the same books being referred to as are in my library!!

One chapter which I found very useful is the teaching the spiritual aspects of yoga, as I find this difficult...or maybe just try and stay clear of teaching the spiritual aspects in my own classes. However Melanie has many tips on how to include these teachings (such as the yamas, niyamas, energy etc), and is so specific in how to teach them to your class, you could literally use her ideas in formulating your whole term of yoga classes.

Melanie's 'teaching points' are very useful in how to explain the subtleties of each posture and are what you expect to hear from a good ashtanga teacher.

I have just finished a TT with my own teacher in Mysore and learnt the sanskrit count for the primary series. The way I was taught the sanskrit differs slightly from Melnaie's, however, she does state thankfully, that there are many variations on the count and that you cannot actually 'pin down' the exact  vinyasa count, as it differs from teacher to teacher.

In chapter 10 on deepening the primary series Melanie offers lots of ideas for workshop-style classes which you could add in to your schedule to help students deepen certain aspects of their practice, like hip openers, back bends, forward bends etc. She's literally done all the work for you here too, as she provides great sequences under headings such as 'Opening the body for urdhva dhanurasana' and "Opening the body for marichyasana'. I'm excited to begin using some of these in my own teaching!!

The last section is on adjustment and she provides clear photos and instruction to adjust students and covers the whole primary series. A lot of the adjustments are in Brian Coopers 'Art of Adjustment' book, but that is not a book you want to be lugging around with you, so having them in this book is great.

All in all, I really like this book and would recommend it. It is very thorough and a great companion for any ashtanga teacher starting out!! Thanks Melanie and Yoga Matters!

No comments:

Post a Comment