As a full-time yoga teacher—I teach 15 classes per week, as well as regular workshops and retreats—I spend a lot of time instructing students on how to move from posture to posture.
But the more I immerse myself in yoga, the more I think about how to expand the practice and explore opportunities for movement off of the mat as well. In fact, I’ve come to realize that this practice shouldn’t—can’t, even—be confined there.
It was time for me to have a new conversation with the environment—it was time to leave behind the safety of the yoga mat. So, I started to think–-what can that exploration or expansion look like?
Well, at first, it looked like a lot of different things. The possibilities for expanding the practice seemed endless. It wasn’t until I began collaborating with friends and colleagues—photographer Andi McLeish and dancer Leiah Luz—that a new opportunity for movement began to materialize. Elements of a meditative, dedicated yoga practice began to combine with the emotional and artistic elements of dance.
Inspired by these new connections, we decided collectively, to create a sequence that brought elements of yoga, fused into a dance—in the middle of a public space, where people where going about their regular day business. And that’s exactly what we did.
Because yoga cultivates community and a collective through practice, it was quite important to me that we express ourselves in a community setting, and share the language of movement to inspire others to discover their full potential.
Of course, reactions to our dance came from every side of the spectrum—some people were curious, some were inspired and some were just too busy with their day. Others were just doing their own activities—playing basketball or running to work. It was a bubble of activity, and we were just one of the puzzle pieces.
But just as we were one new piece of the community that day, so too has this experience become a new piece of my teaching and practice. Since deciding to get off the mat and see what expression could be achieved, I’ve continually added new movement, transitions and expressions to my teaching. I’ve developed new sequences—flows I’ve taught for months have had new life pumped into them.
Inspired by the creative fulfillment of getting off the mat, I plan to continue these experiments.
What else is there to learn? How else can my teaching change and improve?
Time and practice will help dictate that—but I can’t wait to find out.
Of course, I hope and urge other teachers to do the same. Work and explore with partners in other disciplines. See where that kind of collaboration can take you.
For a little while, at least—get off your mat!
Author: Slava Goloubov
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Photo: Courtesy of author.