By Sanjeev Patel
What makes a good Yoga class? If you already have a yoga teacher certification, you probably think you know what new students are looking for in your classes. Most instructors have been teaching so long that they forget what it felt like to be a beginner. A new student has his or her senses wide open when visiting your studio. The finger prints on your mirror, the smell of your studio, and your appearance, are all new to first time students. How can you know what students really want, when each one has different expectations? First of all, you can’t make everyone happy, but you can make most of them happy by making the best possible impression and looking at your class with a fresh pair 0f eyes, like you once had, long before you decided to become a yoga instructor.
Inside the Mind of a New Student
Maybe this student has been to a few yoga classes and wasn’t quite sure if it was for him or her. Maybe the previous instructor didn’t make any eye contact with this student or encourage him or her in any personal way throughout the class. If a student hasn’t been to very many classes and isn’t sure what makes a class good or even great, he or she needs to rely on feelings about the previous classes. Experience will teach us that there are several common elements in any good yoga class.
A good class will have a personable yoga instructor who greets his or her students with a smile. He or she will make you feel welcome by creating a calming atmosphere with music, lighting and maybe even candles. The instructor should make eye contact with the students throughout the class, give personal advice on occasion relating to specific poses and he or she should get to know about your specific desires and needs as they relate to yogic practices.
Although every good yoga class will be slightly different based on the needs of the class or the direction of the yoga teacher, each class will have close to the same basic structure. A good yoga class typically begins with some warm-up breathing exercises, simple stretches or other movements to get the body warmed up. This will typically be followed by a series of postures that make up the bulk of the class. The postures might have a common theme. For example, the instructor might choose to build a routine around the sun salutation where the class is continually led back to that pose. As the class winds down, the asanas will become less vigorous and usually the students end up in a prone position lying on their backs. This leads into the final portion of class, which usually includes some type of meditative practice where the students can let go of all cares and worries and just let the earth support their body in an extremely relaxed state.
A good yoga class includes enough variety to keep the students interested, engaged and coming back for more. Most people don’t want to do the same routine each time they go to class. Yoga instructors should make an effort to teach a new pose or breathing exercise or focus on a yogic concept during each class. This keeps the students continually learning and growing in their individual yoga training sessions.
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