Seven tips for a successful yoga workshop

by Katrina Hinton, 27-Jul-2018

It’s 11pm Saturday night and I’m due to run my first solo workshop in ten hours. I’d envisioned a night of soothing baths, self-care and meditation so I’d be all nurtured and plumped up ready to channel the wisdom on the day. But instead I’m in my work office printing out a sea of handouts. What can I say? Perhaps I work best with a deadline looming!

This is a story about the experience of confronting one’s self-doubt, propensity for procrastination, and taking on the challenge despite all.  I’m hoping my apprehensions and less-than organised work ethic will resonate for others wanting to expand their yoga offerings. And my small takeaway bag of insights will help assuage doubts and provide a few practical tips…

1: Make your theme work for you – don’t work for your theme

I’d started out writing the workshop running notes several weeks ago but after copious drafts, I found myself overwhelmed with the possibilities. So I started again, this time focusing on the workshop theme:Finding Comfort and Ease in Your Life and wondering how I could possibly live up to that claim in one day. Maybe I should work out the sequence of the movements I’d be teaching before anything else? The running notes and handout will fall out of the movements and so would the timings. This was my first minor breakthrough and my first advice to share: now my theme was working for me!

2: Re-use what you’re good at

After toying with the idea of working through the body as the focus, I decide to be pragmatic; I would use all my familiar sequences for releasing different parts of the body but group them into the commonest everyday human movements and postures that everyone could identify with.For example – ease in sitting, walking, lying down, standing and squatting.Now I had the message clear everything else fell into place; the running notes; the scaffold of the day from start time, tea breaks, lunch break and end time. Now I knew exactly how many discrete sessions there were and how long they would run. With the shape of the day as a container I could concentrate on the sequences. I spent a weekend working in my studio practicing and curating the sequences, and getting my daughter to photograph the ones that I needed images for the handout. By the end of the day I had my master list. These were all movements I’d been learning, practicing and teaching regularly but I wrote running notes for them all nevertheless just to commit the ideokinetics to mind and the language to hand.

3: Immerse yourself and capture the output

The notes flowed easily now because for weeks I’d also been in a kind of somatic immersion zone: I was thinking, breathing, sensing Somatic movements 24x7. Jotting down little insights on post-it notes after practicing, waking up and emailing myself reminders of inspired metaphors and even registering the odd creative gem in the middle of meditation!

4: Less is more

At the seventh hour I had a minor crisis after running through the master list of sequences for the last time to check the timings. I didn’t have enough content to fill the sessions! I’d have to leave the students in half hour savasanas and people would feel short-changed! I took a few deep breaths and considered the truth of this rather than the knee-jerk reaction to add more stuff! In fact, the best somatic workshops I’d ever experienced had left luxurious spaces in which to rest and digest and the core philosophy of Somatics is less is more. Those exact words were already in my script so I decided to trust my gut and first instinct and let it be.

5: What worked

As it turned out on the day Less WAS more. The timing was perfect. The spaces allowed the participants time to register their sensations and explore and be curious – an exhortation I gave them at the beginning. So they asked questions and we explored possibilities together. We wandered off briefly on delicious tangents and I allowed myself the indulgence of a story or two. The atmosphere was collegiate rather than dogmatic I found myself simply enjoying the interaction with peers and open-minded and hearted individuals. And the ad-libbing kept it fresh, and interactive, and fun, especially with gales of laughter from the inevitable renegades up the back.

6: And what didn’t…

Those interminable drafts of the handouts wasted time and undermined my confidence. I was better off starting in on the movements and the words fell out of that practice. Looking at all the many books, workshop notes and handouts from workshops I’d attended was also confusing. I was better off simply referencing the resources later after I’d established the message I wanted to convey. Leaving the printing of 600 pages of handouts till the last minute is not recommended!

7: What got me through

Faith in 'the channel'. This is something I’ve observed in myself many times; when I’m 'in the flow' my knowledge and skills emerge effortlessly and with grace. It’s as though all the wisdom of my teachers and their teachers is channeled through me for which I’m incredibly grateful. I’ve observed it in other teachers too. I think it’s the essence and gift of yoga.

Would I do it again?
Absolutely! I’m lining up venues around regional NSW and Melbourne to take my workshops on the road and share the remarkable gift of being able to help yourself to ease and comfort.

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