Updated: Jul 7, 2020
Yoga works best one on one, with teacher and student collaborating and learning from each other. It's especially powerful when both yield to the wisdom of presence; it's like a bird alighting on a branch right outside your window.
Crafting that experience in a group setting is fascinating (and challenging) work: so many different responses to the same cue. Periodically, I remove the "fourth wall" so students can share "where they feel it" so I can shift to more precise cues. It's cool when students feel empowered to own their unique experiences, rather than trying to have my experience.
This approach has taught me a lot about how students "hear" and interpret cues. I've also realized that students need choices when they practice. Instead of rotely following cues, they need an option when something doesn't feel right.
That option, surprisingly often, is the exact opposite of the original cue. Yoga cues seek to produce a movement, direction or muscle activation. But if your body is already moving that way, anatomically or from habit, you might need to slow that action down (or reverse it).
So next time you practice, if a cue elicits a yucky sensation, instead of pushing through anyway, try doing the opposite and feel what happens. You may just walk right into the magic of presence.