Inside Private Yoga

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Written by Maggie Gasior Black

We are all pretty familiar with group yoga classes in a studio setting, but what about private and small group lessons?  Let’s look at the good old who, what, where, when, how, and why of the private side of yoga.  Maybe you or someone you know could benefit from private sessions.

Why?  Yogis seek private classes for many, widely varying reasons!  Individualized, focused attention can be invaluable in reaching their goals, and make yoga accessible for all. 

Sometimes clients are one and done with a special class-they want to work on a specific posture or host a party.  So it could be tightening up your high-to-low push-up to get after some arm balances, a pre-wedding flow for the bridal party or group meditation at a baby shower.  I have clients who just want to take class together with a certain friend, so they schedule a session every once in a while to have a girls day out.

Other clients are looking for a few classes.  Maybe you’re new to yoga and want a few classes to learn the terminology, and get comfortable with breathing, flowing, and mindfulness.  Perhaps you are recovering from an injury, illness or childbirth and need a few classes to get re-acquainted with your practice and learn some new tricks and modifications.   This gives your instructor all the time and space to assist and accommodate only you.

Long-term private lessons tend to be clients who have very specific goals, health issues or scheduling challenges.    Over the years, I’ve personally worked with clients who have multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s, cancer, pelvic floor dysfunction, social anxiety, and PTSD.  Private lessons afford these yogis access to practice yoga to their best benefit.  Physical impediments such as stairs, heated studios, lack of wall space and special props make in-studio, large group practice impractical and ineffectual for these yogis.  For years, I’ve worked with a client with Parkinson’s and while he needs very few accommodations and modifications, the comfort of practicing in his own home gym space allows him to come into it more deeply and feel more benefits such as increased strength, less shaking, and improved balance.  Another very inspirational client is recovering from cancer and multiple surgeries, including a rod implant in her back.  We use lots of props, walls, blocks, chairs etc in a specifically modified, ever-changing flow help her gain strength, flexibility, confidence, and hope as she recovers.

Who?  Anyone interested in yoga for any of those reasons can find a private yoga instructor.  Many yoga teachers are willing to offer private or small group sessions.  Scan your local studio’s web sites for the instructors section.  You will mostly likely find biographical descriptions of each teacher.  You might find some common ground or a spark of inspiration and interest.   If you can’t find the right match that way, email the studio, explain what you are looking for and someone will likely pair you up with an instructor well suited for your needs.

What/how?  Private lessons can be one on one or a small group who pays the instructor a separate fee for specialized classes.  Most teachers will have a preliminary meeting or phone call to assess the client’s physical state, emotional landscape, goals, strengths and weaknesses.  Many will have a written agreement to be signed about payment, scheduling, cancellations, waiver etc. From there, your instructor will design and develop a customized yoga practice for you.   This personalization is what makes private lessons worth the extra cost.  Occasionally, I have charged less per class when clients live close by, need little custom planning and commit to/pay in advance for a package of lessons.  Many teachers rely on private clients (and special workshops/events outside the normal studio schedule) to maintain a viable income.

Where/when?  Some yoga studios allow their space to be used by their teachers for private lessons when regular, group classes are not in session.  One of the biggest advantages of private classes is time flexibility, leaving you free to practice whenever and wherever you are available!  Parks, your home or your instructor’s are all options as well.

For more information, check yoga studio’s websites, join local groups on social media for recommendations, contact studio management and find the right private teacher for you and your needs.

Maggie Black has a passion for yoga.  She discovered the power of yogic breathing as a young ballerina, used it her whole life and is now a passionate teacher for all ages.  She can always be found at Yoga Flow, but pops up several times a month at breweries and restaurants.  Maggie is a devoted mom to 3 girls and loves food, cooking, baking, and dancing. Maggie is a new addition to the LOCALpgh team. She will focus on wellness, and fitness related articles.