What I love about NY City is not the shopping (some might disagree if they looked at how much I spent, I mean "saved" : )), but the rush, the busy-ness, the activity and non-activity, the people, great coffee on every corner, the people watching, and the choices... there is variety.
I was in Union square on my way to a yoga class at Jivamukti Yoga, and there were over a thousand crowded into a little park having a pillow fight. That's right, mostly NYU students, parents with kids, and other strange folks pillow fighting. Not sure why. Nathan, my 8 year old would have loved it!
Did I mention that the yoga is pretty great, too? Classes at OM, Yoga to the People, and Jivamukti yoga were all solid, strong classes. Each of the instructors were young-ish, tatted, clear principals of alignment weaved in with great hands-on adjustments, sanskrit, mantras, and yoga pilosophy, and all of the instructors taught without any demonstration. The classes were obviously not beginner classes (all of them were posted as "open" or all level classes on the schedules). It takes an experienced teacher to not demonstrate at all and solely use their verbal skills to communicate the essence of a pose.
I'm a huge fan of teaching off the mat. I feel that when an instructor is glued to the mat, their awareness of who they are teaching to and what those students are doing diminishes. It also leads me to wonder if the class is for the students or for the teacher's own benefit. I know there are some who like to do it with the students so that when they cue it, they are feeling what they are cuing. And, certainly there is no right or wrong in the choice to demonstrate or not. Personally, I feel that if you're in it for the students, more time should be moving around the room engaging in the student's form (which enables them to practice safely and to possibly feel the pose in a way they haven't before), and challenging the students not to just follow you and do what you say- but to challenge them to truly listen and do the posture in a way that is safest for them. (If the instructor is always doing it full out, the students whether or not they can do it full out will attempt to follow, possibly injuring themselves in the process.) What it boils down to is: Awareness. Can the teacher teach the students to cultivate awareness in their bodies? And, is the teacher aware of her students? I don't know-- not judging just observing and exploring what works well for me.