Updated: Feb 2, 2022
There's loads of reasons why people come to me for 1:1 yoga classes and also why I might recommend that is the best place for you initially - particularly if you are managing an injury or condition.
Here's some common reasons someone might ask for a 1:1 initially:
Time: You might want to practice at a different time or day of the week to when group classes are on
Style: You might want a stronger or more chilled style of practice, something that I don't offer on a regular basis
Confidence: You might want extra support to build your confidence by spending a lot of time checking in and working to build deep understanding of what is going on
Want to practice in a private, relaxing environment where you can be my sole focus
It's a treat and investment you want to make in your wellbeing
Specific goals for yoga practice: These can be little things like being able to feel stable putting shoes on, or learning handstands - it really varies and is totally dependent on you!
1:1s & INJURY
Often, I'll get an email from someone who has an injury - back/knee/shoulder pain, recovering for surgery or a condition and be asked if my Yoga 101/Flowing Yoga 101 classes are suitable.
This is probably one of the hardest questions for me to answer - I can't give a yes or no without seeing the person and understanding what's been going on for them. At this point, I recommend coming to my Private Yoga Studio (just outside Bicester) for a 1:1. This is where I can assess you and spend enough time with you to be able to support you fully, so you are able to go to a group class if thats what you want to do.
Simply, I don't know the answer without having access to that person's medical history, having a conversation with their doctor or physio, understanding how that injury or condition affects movement, and psychologically where they are with that injury or issue.
I'm also not a doctor or medical professional. I'm a yoga educator. I can make an informed recommendation, but it is the individual's choice and place to say what feels right and what is or isn't comfortable for them. It's important to say everyone's definition of pain is totally different - one person's bad pain is another's good, pain-free day; so when someone emails and says... "I've got a bad back, can I come to class?" that adds more complexity and challenge.
A lot of doctors, physios and other medical professionals say "try yoga" to their patients, which is great... but often, that's without knowing what a yoga class actually is or what it involves!
It's a huge frustration of mine because the perception of yoga classes and what the reality is are two very different things. Yoga isn't easy. It's a blend of mobility and strength, balance and ease, focus and concentration. A teacher with a long practice history (like me!) makes it look easy - a bit like a swan, calm on the surface but paddling hard underneath!
As an example, someone with a frozen shoulder (so can't put their arms over the head or out to the side) books into a group class, thinking that will be easy and it's "just stretching" because of the throwaway "try yoga" comments, or what they've seen in the media - without reaching out so they really understand what is involved or whether that is the right approach for them.
In a group setting I will be expecting basic mobility (i.e. kneeling, getting on and off the floor unaided, weight bearing on hands and knees, being able to fully move arms/shoulders) or knowledge of variations of all of the above (and confidence to use those variations unprompted) to participate in a group class.
As an example, putting your hands over head or to the side are essential for downdog, side planks and other poses often used within the framework of group classes. Because that body part hasn't been fully used for a period of time and may need extra targeted work, it's very difficult to regress particular movements continuously and repeatedly within that group class framework without the person having that information first.
It is also important to start to use that part of your body in a class. You need to use it to regain strength & mobility there at an appropriate level, not to mention everything is attached to each other. That person needs to know what works, and what doesn't, and also how to adapt their practice to suit them and be safe and know alternative options for common poses where appropriate. This is where working with me 1:1 comes in.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A GROUP CLASS & 1:1S
In a group class, I plan for the needs of the wider group of up to 12 people within the framework of the class description - not that single person. The needs of that one person is exactly what 1:1s are for.
There's no way I can give the same depth of support or teach detailed variations consistently and repeatedly throughout a group class because there's literally 10-11 other people I need to think about and support too. The expectation that it is possible to do that isn't realistic, or fair.
They're two very different offerings with very different levels of support for the student as well as work for me as the facilitator of these sessions. It's like comparing apples and pears.
1:1s are collaborative and interactive, and laser focused solely on you. Group classes are focused on the group with general direction and cues based on what I see in the class, with general variations. One is bespoke, one is general, hence the price points and structure reflect this.
I'm always 100% transparent with how I operate, the mechanics of the industry so you can be informed - It's part of my role to open eyes to the other side of the industry you are interested in consuming from and that does often cause a lot of harm to the teachers essential to delivering yoga.
My 1:1s are currently £50 per 1 hour session. This covers my prep time, 2 x studio deep cleans, planning and delivery of the session (approx 2-2.5 hours of work per class). It is an incredible amount of value each student gets for something bespoke and supportive of their individual needs.
Sadly, I sometimes get told I'm "expensive" and this is nearly always compared to a group class with up to 12 people at £10 each - "it's a yoga class, why is it £50?" The maths is entirely missed here, plus, I can physically teach 3 classes per day on a long term, sustainable basis - not 8 or 10... (being a yoga teacher is not a well paid or secure profession. Check out Yoga Teachers Union for their pay stats if you want an honest account!)
Sometimes, there is also an expectation for me to provide this in depth support in that group setting which as I've already said, isn't possible. It makes it incredibly difficult for me to do my job, provide a great class for everyone else, and it's not a fair on anyone involved.
I'm a highly qualified professional and I recommend classes or certain approaches, including 1:1s - based on what I see in front of me, and my experience working with lots of different bodies and people day in, day out. It's my professional opinion. If your mechanic said your car needed new brakes, you'd get new brakes. This is exactly the same thing.
I recommend what I think is best for you to build a yoga practice that works for you and that is sustainable for the long term, with minimised risk of further injury - and 1:1s are a super effective way to do that. We can get into the nitty gritty and find things that work for Mr Frozen Shoulder or Ms Herniated Disc, as well as all the great benefits of dedicated time for yourself and undivided attention on your needs.
This is why I ask people with injuries to have a chat with me first and most likely attend a 1:1 before coming to a group class.
It's about building your confidence.
It's about you learning to love yoga and connect with your body in a positive way.
It's about finding what works for you and feeling empowered to do your own thing.
It's about learning you aren't broken after an injury - you can move! - in a safe and supportive environment.
Once you're comfortable and have a grasp of common variations or other poses, then 100% group classes are for you - most of my classes use lots of variations and different pose options, it's rare everyone is doing the same thing.
It's an approach that I know works and is safer for everyone involved.