What does a Private Yoga Session Look Like?
Hey Readers! I am so thankful you are here! Have you ever wondered what private yoga sessions typically look like? Or have you ever been curious about why someone would even want a private yoga session to begin with? In this month's blog post, I will try to answer these questions and more.
Core Features of All Private Yoga Sessions
While the reasons for scheduling a private yoga session can vary tremendously from person-to-person, there are some commonalities that exist in ALL of my private sessions.
First, private yoga sessions are tailored specifically for you and what your mind, body, and spirit need on a short-term (i.e. within the session) and long-term (i.e. over several sessions) basis. All private sessions are individualized to fit your needs. There is no "one size fits all" approach to private yoga, or yoga in general. Your wants and needs truly dictate what happens within each session.
Second, the first session with any client always includes an assessment. This assessment includes movement analysis (e.g. overhead squat assessment, mobility testing, etc.), which helps identify any potential muscle imbalances that may need to be corrected with strengthening and/or stretching. The assessment also includes a conversation about your current movement routine (e.g. weightlifting, running, etc.) and daily postures you are commonly in (e.g. sitting at a desk, driving kids around, etc.). Finally the assessment also includes a conversation about what you want to get out of your private yoga sessions, such as improving hip mobility, reducing tightness in the low back, improving alignment in your plank pose, reducing stress/anxiety, or something else entirely. This conversation leads to the establishment of goals/objectives that I monitor and adjust on an ongoing basis.
Third, all of my private yoga sessions include documentation of what occurred during each session. I actually have a session template that I complete based on each client's goals/objectives, and for each session, I write down the poses, sequences, and breath work completed within the session. I also document what was challenging and how it was modified to fit the client's individual body. And, I include any mantras used during the session (e.g. I am a student of my body), any recommended homework for in-between sessions (e.g. breath work, 6 moves of the spine, rolling feet daily, etc.), and ideas for the next session (e.g. balance work, chest opening, etc.).
Fourth, all of my sessions include the following general components: breath work, some type of movement (which can vary from super gentle to vigorous), and a period of quiet rest at the end of the session. Breath work is important for many reasons, including enhanced attention, improved lung capacity, and a calmer mind and body. I typically incorporate one of several different styles of breathing techniques with my clients, often tailored to the client's objectives and the movements to be performed within the session. Regarding the movements themselves, this can vary widely from one client to the next (see next section for more information on this topic). Finally, the quiet rest at the end of the session, known as resting pose (or savasana) in yoga, is incredibly important for integrating all of the work that was just performed into the sensory and motor systems.
Finally, because I am also a certified personal trainer (NASM-CPT), corrective exercise specialist (NASM-CES), and certified nutrition coach (NASM-CNC), my sessions often include parts and pieces from these different areas. For example, resistance exercises may be added to your session, depending on your needs. Or, corrective stretching may be incorporated to help reduce muscle imbalances in your system. Or, advice on general nutrition strategies may be given in your session as well. And since I am also a certified Roll Model Method practitioner, I often include self-myofascial rolling (SMR) in my sessions too (click here to read more about SMR).
Different Styles of Private Yoga
Honestly, there is a massively wide spectrum of private yoga styles, ranging from very slow and gentle to rather challenging and strenuous. It totally depends on your body and your wellness goals. Some clients need, or prefer, chair yoga, where yoga poses are executed while sitting in, or holding onto, a chair. Other clients need, or prefer, gentle yoga, where poses are less strenuous and the movements occur much slower, often with the support of a few props (click here to read more about yoga props). Still other clients want, or need, restorative yoga, where only a few poses are executed with the support of many props (click here to read more about restorative yoga). And others prefer more of a power, vinyasa-style flow, where the movements are generally more challenging and the pace is a little faster.
There is no right or wrong style of yoga. In my group yoga classes, I always say, "there is no right or wrong in yoga, as long as you are honoring your body." There are amazing, powerful, benefits with each style of yoga. Chair yoga is fabulous for people who have difficulty balancing or standing on their own, such as seniors or people recovering from an injury. Chair yoga offers the opportunity to build strength and stability in the neuromuscular system, with the support of a chair. Power, or more vinyasa-like yoga, is great for people who are looking for a more intense workout, with poses geared towards their needs. Gentle yoga is fabulous when you are looking for a way to gently move your body, with opportunities to slow down the nervous system and achieve a more calm state in your mind. Restorative yoga is excellent for people with high anxiety and recovering from illness or injury, as the down-regulating effects of restorative yoga help the body to heal, repair, and rest.
My clients with special needs (e.g. Autism, Down Syndrome, etc.) generally prefer to have a visual schedule of all the things that will occur during the private session, often written on a dry erase board. If we are using a mantra within our session (e.g. I am calm. I belong.), I also write that on the dry erase board. Additionally, for kids or individuals with special needs, I generally use picture cards of the yoga poses to be completed. I generally place the picture cards next to, or in front of, the client's yoga mat. As we complete poses, we remove the picture card with the particular pose and set it aside. This can be really helpful for clients who are more resistance to doing private yoga. It helps them to visually see their work being completed.
Because private yoga sessions are highly individualized and based on your specific needs, the style of yoga used in your yoga session may vary from session-to-session, or even within a session itself. For example, you might have had a really stressful day at work and need more restorative-type yoga one week, while the next session your body may need more power movements. Or, you might want to do some intense power movements for the first part of your session, while the second half of your session is more gentle or restorative-like. You might even prefer to do self-myofascial rolling for part, or all, of your session. The type of yoga completely depends on you and your needs.
Sample Reasons for Choosing Private Yoga
There are so many different reasons clients choose private yoga. Below I have listed some of the reasons that my clients decided to pursue private yoga sessions.
Manage/reduce stress and anxiety. Some of my clients have chosen private yoga as a means to help them navigate stressful emotions or mental health. For example, I have one client that uses her private yoga sessions to manage anxiety related to her husband's military deployment, and I have another client who uses private yoga sessions to help deal with his bipolar disorder. I also have clients with Autism who use private yoga as a means to manage the symptoms of Autism. Yoga is fabulous for improving mental health measures, and private yoga can be even better since all components of the session are tailored for you.
Learn alignment, modifications, variations for yoga poses. I have had some clients pursue private yoga as a way to better learn how to safely execute various yoga poses, focusing their session on alignment and muscular engagement. Other clients have chosen private yoga sessions to help them learn how to modify and vary certain yoga poses, so that inaccessible poses become accessible.
Improve mobility. Some people choose the private yoga route in order to improve overall mobility in the body (to read more about mobility click here). For example, some of my senior clients practice yoga in order to reduce the immobility effects of aging. Other clients do private yoga to help improve mobility for the breathing musculature. Many musculoskeletal issues stem from tight, or overactive, soft tissues. Yoga is fabulous for improving whole-body mobility, and private yoga sessions are created to specifically address mobility needs in your body.
Increase stamina, endurance, and balance for daily living. Some of my private clients simply want to improve lung capacity and cardiovascular function in order to safely and comfortably execute activities of daily living (ADLs), such as doing chores, driving, and spending time with children/grandchildren. Additionally, improving balance is another common reason people seek out private yoga. Yoga can be a great workout for both the heart and the skeletal muscles in the body, and yoga is also incredible for improving your balance ability, which makes walking and standing much easier. Private yoga sessions can be individualized to support the ADLs that you complete regularly.
Avoid/reduce pain. Many people come to yoga, and private yoga, as a means to reduce pain and discomfort in the physical body. Since yoga is a holistic, whole-body practice, it is wonderful for restoring balance in your soft tissues. This can really reduce the effects of musculoskeletal pain. For example, some clients want to reduce low back, or knee, pain, while other clients are looking to reduce neck pain or tension headaches. Since private yoga is customized to your body, yoga can be a great tool for reducing, or potentially eliminating, pain.
Enhance physical performance. Some clients pursue private yoga sessions to support, or enhance, other physical fitness pursuits, such as running or playing tennis. Certain physical movement practices, such as running, involve a lot of repetitive movements that can take a toll on the musculoskeletal system over time. Yoga can help to reduce the effects of those repetitive movements by restoring balance in the physical body. Yoga can also help to strengthen, or stretch, particular muscles that are necessary in various sports (e.g. rib cage mobility for baseball players).
Help individuals with special needs. Some of my clients seek private yoga to help, or support, a loved one with special needs, such as Autism or Down Syndrome. Yoga is generally very beneficial for individuals with special needs (to read more about yoga for Autism click here). In addition to teaching yoga/personal training, I also work as a pediatric speech therapist, and I use yoga in some form or fashion with all my patients. The benefits of yoga for people with special needs is wide-reaching, including improved focus, sensory and emotional regulation, communication, and motor planning.
Convenience. Finally, I have some clients that prefer private yoga sessions because of convenience related to scheduling and location. Group yoga classes are so amazing, but they might only be scheduled at times that do not work for your schedule. Or, it might be difficult to get to a yoga studio based on your current weekly obligations. Private yoga sessions can occur at a time, and place, of your choosing, which can make it easier to adhere to your personal yoga practice. And speaking of scheduling, private yoga sessions can occur with really whatever frequency you prefer. I typically see most of my clients once per week; however, I have a few clients that are 1-2 times per month, or two times per week. My private sessions are 60-minutes in length, where the last 10 minutes involves wrap-up (i.e. discussion about the session, including questions, concerns, and requests for subsequent sessions), payment (if necessary), and scheduling the next session. Some clients have standing appointments with me, and some of my clients prefer to schedule on a week-to-week basis. So, the schedule is really up to you when it comes to private yoga sessions.
Private yoga sessions are a wonderful way to receive customized yoga planning for your body. The reasons for tryi