Mark Stephens' Musings

These writings are informal reflections on practicing and teaching yoga. Click on any title to read the entire piece.

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Giving Nuanced Guidance

Submitted by Mark Stephens on Fri, 04/08/2016 - 01:34

In communicating with our students to convey insights about how they might best approach and explore their practice in a way that reflects and embodies the principles of steadiness and ease, perseverance and nonattachment, we can tap into a variety of resources—speaking, demonstrating, touching, and for some even singing to evoke the spirit of being fully in this self-reflective and potentially transformational practice.

Starting Here and Now

Submitted by Mark Stephens on Thu, 04/07/2016 - 08:18

At the risk of stating the obvious, in practicing yoga we all start from where we are—this in contrast to where someone else might think we are or where we ourselves might mistakenly think we are. Many teachers have preconceived or ill-informed ideas about the abilities or interests of their students while many students over-or underestimate their immediately present ability. How as teachers might we best navigate these realities?

The Inner Teacher

Submitted by Mark Stephens on Sun, 03/27/2016 - 08:36

Adjust Pic with Yoga Adjustments ExcerptIn doing yoga, the best teacher one will ever have is alive and well inside. In every breath, every posture, and all the moments and transitions in between, the inner teacher is offering guidance.

The Knees

Submitted by Mark Stephens on Wed, 03/05/2014 - 21:16

Connecting the femur to the tibia, the knees receive considerable stress from above and below, making their stabilizing muscles and especially ligaments among the most frequently strained in physical yoga practices.

Guiding With Your Hands

Submitted by Mark Stephens on Wed, 03/05/2014 - 21:02

This is excerpted from Yoga Adjustments: Philosophy, Principles, and Techniques (Available June 3, 2014 from Random House)

Using your hands to accentuate and refine what you are trying to convey with words or visual modeling can make all the difference in a student’s

A Note on Demonstrating Asanas

Submitted by Mark Stephens on Wed, 02/26/2014 - 13:42

Hands-on cues and assistance are only one of several methods of giving clear instructional guidance to students. To the extent that you give clear verbal cues combined with effective demonstrations, most students will not need tactile cues. To make your verbal cues most effective, speak slowly while simultaneously moving slowly into the asana you are teaching, giving slightly dramatic emphasis to whatever you most want to highlight while transitioning in from a position in which you mirror your class with maximum visual contact between you and all of your students.