Thank you for teaching the best yoga class I have ever attended! I was drenched and invigorated. 🙂 You are Fun. –Erin Donley
Best yoga class of my life and now the sun is shining!! Perfect ♥ -Victoria
Hola 🙂 if your having a class tomorrow I’d love to go! Last night felt great and all day today felt amazing! 🙂 let me know where and when 🙂 see how much it makes me smile lol loved it!!! – A
…just wanted to say again, thanks for your awesomness. I felt guided, challenged, and safe tonight and I appreciate you. – K
I just wanted to say you are such a wonderful and talented instructor. – L
That was one of the best yoga classes I’ve ever had. -A
I only come to this studio when you’re teaching. – F
More comments from yogiroots.org:
Yoga for Night Owls at Yoga on Yamhill with Darren Littlejohn
Style: Vinyasa Yoga Level: Some previous experience recommended
Yoga on Yamhill, a donation based studio, is a serene space in the heart of city center. One can easily forget about the world outside within the studio’s brick walls and frosted glass windows. Yoga for Night Owls is a 90 minute heated vinyasa class held at 9:30p.m. With a background in power yoga, Darren Littlejohn creates a dynamic flow that incorporates one breath, one movement. The flow included an arm balance, an inversion, core work, and back strengthening. Littlejohn constantly walks the room, scanning the students, and gives hands-on assists as necessary. With his full voice and constant enthusiasm his love of teaching, and his love of yoga, were obvious. And his students seem to love him right back. Class ended into a long corpse pose where Littlejohn gave a neck rub and a foot massage.
A letter from a student:
Let me start by saying that I am so grateful to have found your class. It is one of the few places I have felt consistently sane lately. Your teaching style has a lot to do with that. *Thank you.*
Your classes are a terrific workout, and you do a great job of pushing people to stretch that extra inch or hold that extra second. I love that the classes are challenging without being inaccessibly hard and that I always end them tired. (Personally, I find that making myself really physically uncomfortable for an hour a day makes it much easier for me to surmount obstacles throughout the rest of my day—your class is a great vehicle for this.) Also, I appreciate that your instructional approach is so hands-on. I recognize that there are lots of folks who have a difficult time being touched, and for them it may be a more challenging process. However, I think an important (and potentially healing) aspect of yoga is the overall acceptance of our bodies, and having compassionate touch from a teacher can hasten that process. Personally, I have found that having an instructor’s hands bring attention to an area that I habitually contract has been very helpful in terms of developing my own internal awareness. There have been several times when you have helped me gain insight into where I am unconsciously tightening and other times when you have helped me get farther in a pose than I was able to take myself. Your adjustments are great. When you do them, you feel very sure-handed, which is a relief to the person feeling awkwardly posed and precariously balanced.
I have told you this before, but here it is again, because I think it’s super important. I really appreciate your grounded approach to the spirituality inherent in yoga. Lots of teachers either overlook it entirely—then the practice might as well be an aerobics class—or they get so airy-fairy about it that the actual (and incredible) utility of yogic practice in everyday life gets lost. You do a terrific job taking the spiritual elements of yoga and making them practical and accessible. You pay significant homage to the principles, and introduce some concepts that might otherwise be intimidating or off-putting to some folks, and you masterfully integrate them into real world circumstances so that they are easily understood and digested. Your remarks show how these spiritual elements are not just interesting theories, but how they are relevant, useful, and directly applicable to real life right now. You do this particularly well regarding how the principles relate to addiction, but you keep the message broad enough that everyone, even those of us who are not in recovery, can find themselves in it (everyone tries to avoid pain by grasping and clinging to something). Because you strike this balance so well, you ground the physical practice in something larger. As a result, you are definitely opening more than people’s muscles and joints.
I love that you make such an effort to learn people’s names and that you use them throughout class. It creates a welcoming, respectful atmosphere, free of pretense (thank you for this!)—it’s the antithesis of the stereotypical snooty yoga studio where everyone looks perfect and doesn’t speak to each other. Having you remember my name makes me (and I’m sure other students, too) feel like I am being attended to and cared for personally, like you genuinely care about my development in my practice. That kind of sincere connection is hard to find in most yoga classes. I assume this also has some utility for you, as the teacher, when you can just say, “Kelly, lower your hip,” while you’re adjusting someone else on the other side of the room. It’s like you’re killing two birds with one stone, maximizing your effectiveness when you only have two hands. ☺ But you should know that it is also positively affecting your students.
Perhaps most important is the way in which you set and hold the space for class. This is a difficult thing to explain, so bear with me I don’t articulate it well. It’s essentially the energetic dynamic you establish for the room; it creates the foundation for everything. Most teachers (of any discipline) don’t have great capacity in this regard, and I don’t think it’s something you can learn. Either you have it or you don’t. It is what separates “good” teachers from “great” ones. It’s the difference between going to a yoga class and getting a good workout and going to a yoga class and feeling as though you are working out in your own personal church. Does that make sense? Whether or not you realize it, you do this. You set a space that is grounded, open, intentional, and divinely connected—in a word, sacred. One of the many ways I know this is happening is that my mind does not drift in class. Thoughts that successfully distract me in other classes are not on my radar at all. Now, I recognize that the quality of my presence throughout a class is primarily dependent on my efforts, and I am intimately familiar with my in/ability to stay present generally. So, when I notice how infrequently my mind wonders in class, I know that the energetic quality of the space, and the teacher, is helping me. The ease with which I can stay present, in any class, is usually an incredibly accurate indicator of the teacher’s presence. In your class, I am intensely present the entire time, even in poses that are relatively unchallenging for me or in those that are really causing me to suffer. For every minute, I am right there, listening intently to you and to my body. That is it. I feel held in that space the entire time. And when I leave, I have the feeling that I just spent an hour plugged into something bigger than myself. This is possible because of the space you create.
There is an incredible authenticity in your teaching, Darren. It is clear that you live and love this practice. What a fantastic example that sets. You are honest and direct—you know when to push (which is essentially calling someone on their bullshit story of being too weak) and when to support. And, importantly, you’re funny as hell. You crack me up in every class, and I love it. Allowing that kind of joyful opening in a yoga class is, well, tantric. And wonderful. And proof that you are practicing what you preach. Whereas most instructors simply facilitate classes, you actively step into the role of “Teacher.” It suits you. Keep going.