What is the value in a workshop? Why pay extra for a "longer" class? What does a workshop even look like? What would I need to bring?
These are all questions I had before attending my first yoga workshop and these questions were at the forefront of my thoughts upon planning my own workshop. Although I survived and there was some value in not knowing exactly what to expect and in opening myself to the unknown, the pitta in me still likes to have a plan. This is why I am sharing this post. So that whenever you decide to take a workshop you are prepared and know what to expect. Hopefully that knowledge will encourage you to be open to the opportunity of a workshop.
To understand the importance of a workshop I have a couple of visualizations. The first is for experienced practitioners who not only do asana daily but also dabble in the other areas of yoga. The second visualization is for those individuals who are newer to yoga and/or only have a physical practice.
So first I want you to imagine all the different areas of a yoga practice, physical movement, breath work, meditation, etc- now see these as a working body and being different parts of the body. Visualize this however it works for you. Maybe the physical practice is your limbs or muscles, perhaps meditation is your mind. Now think of what nourishes all the areas of your body. Of course breath does but this is another conversation all together, but what about your blood? Your heart? Think of a workshop as the heart of it all. This is where everything connects. None of our systems or parts work without fresh nourishing blood being pumped to them. Participating in a workshop is like giving new life to your heart. Its strengthening it.
For the second metaphor I want you to picture yourself on an island. Imagine the physical practice of yoga is that island. Now visualize "mainland" a ways from that island. Mainland is all the other areas of yoga. You could probably survive just fine on the island for your whole life, just practicing asana and never moving beyond that. But imagine the opportunity that would open if you built a bridge to that mainland. Imagine the world that would be at your feet if you were able to cross into those other areas. It might seem a little terrifying to walk across the bridge but you see people you know on the other side of it and they seem happy and thriving, so your heart and mind tell you to do it. A workshop is that bridge. It is a way to bring your physical practice to another level, another area.
Regardless of what metaphor worked better for you or even if you are not a visualization type of person. The point is to understand the value and importance of a workshop. Workshops bring understanding to why we practice. They allow you to expand beyond the physical. They open you up to all the other modalities of yoga. They bridge the gap. This is especially important for yoga in the west as it is heavily portrayed as primarily a physical movement practice. And yes, that is a part of it, but there is so much more. Perhaps not every workshop is an amazing, earth shattering, life changing, enlightening experience. But remember each workshop , just like each class, is what you make of it. Yoga is a personal practice and coming to the mat is always a fresh chance to quiet the mind and experience life, but yoga itself is part of life, tis our every day actions and thoughts. We don't just practice yoga for those few moments on our mat, we practice it everyday all day and workshops remind us and teach us that.
Without further ado here is a list of what to expect and what to bring for most workshops. Although a huge disclaimer- just as every teacher is different, so to is every workshop. If you are really unsure and want to be prepared do not be afraid to ask, but also do not be surprised if you receive a vague answer such as "Whatever you think you need is what your should bring..."
- Items to bring
- Pencil and notebook
- handouts you received before hand (if any)
- cushion to sit on
- *snacks -only for all day workshops and with the teachers permission
- wear layered clothes
- Typically workshops consist of a lecture of sorts, discussion time and a physical practice- again this can vary depending on the class, the teacher, the timing, etc
- Be prepared to share a little about yourself but also this is an opportunity to ask questions and to learn more so be open to that
- Many times workshops are simply an opportunity to dig deeper into a specific pose or aspect of a practice
- Above all enjoy your experience!!!!