By Narendra Maheshri
Teaching Yoga requires a certain level of commitment, both to yourself and the students who are learning from you. Just as life is always evolving, so is your practice. Choosing yoga techniques for a lesson plan is going to depend on a number of factors. Some of those factors will include the types of classes you will be teaching. After all, a class you would teach for school age children would probably require a different lesson plan than a class you would be leading for people who are senior citizens. A beginners Yoga class will differ from a more advanced class.
Of course, many classes are advertised as “open to anyone, regardless of age or Yoga experience.” It is useful to have a specific set of poses in mind along with how to teach people variations on what you are doing. This can help keep beginners comfortable and focused and can also help keep more experienced students engaged in the class. Yoga lesson plans certainly do not have to be rigid or set in stone. Instead, they should act as a guide that can help you to stay on track and help your students as they are learning.
Lesson plans are going to vary greatly according to what style of Yoga you are teaching. Hatha or Ashtanga Yoga plans are going to be focused more on the gentle flow of poses and some meditation, along with some chanting. After all, this form of Yoga is for people who are looking to relax. Power Yoga classes will be altogether different. This form of Yoga is very physically demanding, with meditation kept to a minimum. The lesson plan for Power Yoga will certainly be more physically challenging than other types of Yoga.
When you are teaching a class keep in mind that you are also learning from your students. The ebb and flow of teacher and student is a constant presence within the class. That’s why it is good to be able to lean upon a lesson plan but to be flexible enough to change it as needed. Poses that seem challenging to one Yoga class might be the perfect option for another class and often that can’t be determined until you are in the depths of teaching. As your practice and experience grows, so will your ability to gauge which lesson plans offer the most for yourself and your students.
© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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Planning Classes and Developing New Lessons
By Kathryn Boland
How do you go about choosing Yoga techniques for a lesson plan? Do you sometimes feel a need for creative inspiration, for your teaching? Do you have ways to “refill your creative cup”? Are you looking for some? Teaching yoga is an inherently creative act; we design consequences, choose themes and music, offer a poetry reading in our speech when we teach, et cetera. Yet – just like anyone who works creatively – we can come to feel out of creative inspiration. That doesn’t stall the demands for our creativity, however.
What to do? Here are some suggestions for re-inspiring yourself creatively.
Return to practice –
Choosing Yoga techniques for a lesson plan is difficult if we are lacking in our personal practice. I’m occasionally quite surprised to hear fellow yoga instructors say they haven’t themselves practiced in a few weeks or even longer. It’s no surprise that a long time spent without personal practice (apart from holistic benefits not gained) could result in one’s creative bank going low. Yoga instructors are often on tight budgets and strapped for time – both things that can get in the way of practicing. Here, however – as with much in life – where there’s a will, there truly can be a way.
Many studios have “community” classes for $5-$10, significantly less than the drop-in rate for most regular studio classes. Another option is classes at places where you teach; many studios/gyms/other yoga-offering locations offer their teachers classes for free. If time is more the issue, online yoga video subscriptions often offer shorter practices, created to still hit all the important markers (backbends, side bends, inversions, et cetera) – without time spent for travel. Something to consider is that these video classes don’t offer a connection to, and often valuable feedback from, teachers.
All of those aspects offer learning from other teachers, which can be incredibly fueling to creativity. Choosing Yoga techniques for a lesson plan can be an inspirational experience. One can be inspired by new prop uses, mantra and mudra inclusions, sequencing, et cetera. We can use elements of what they taught without feeling like we’re stealing (and, better yet, credit the source to our students). Yet significant inspiration can also come from personal practice; we can find little nuggets of discovery in how our bodies guide us to move and breathe, which we can then use in our teaching. There’s also no price charged for personal practice, and it can be far more flexible with timing than group classes or videos!
Study up – Time and money constraints can make accomplishing continuing education difficult for teachers. Formally speaking, it’s required to maintain teacher credentials – so we have to find ways. That can include bartering teaching classes for teacher education workshops at studios that may offer them, as one example. Thankfully, most institutions that offer and recertify credentials (such as Aura Wellness Center) give five years to do so – so there is time to set up and carry through with such arrangements.
Informal, intermittent study – in “little bites” such as reading articles and watching short online posture labs – can reinvigorate our creativity. It can introduce us, or reintroduce us, to game-changing concepts. Short of game-changing, it can intrigue us enough to alter certain subtle aspects of practice. We can then include these changes in our classes. Additionally, that act of transforming such methods into our own voice and style as teachers is a creative act in itself. You’ll gain something new (or re-gain something forgotten), which – more importantly – is something to pass unto your students. Choosing Yoga techniques for a lesson plan is easier when we are active in our studies.
Inspire yourself outside yoga – Many yoga instructors I know have creative interests outside of yoga – from music to dance to painting. These areas can indeed offer creative inspiration for yoga practice and teaching. Commonalities and connections between those disciplines and yoga can illuminate universal truths, or less broad – but nuanced and intriguing – ideas. Shape, line, texture, tone and other qualities explored within other art forms can also inspire asana sequencing.
Engaging in favorite creative activities can also energize and motivate us. This process can ease beginning signs of burnout – one if which is lack or low level of creativity, but which also include fatigue and tending towards negative moods. We might be able to sometimes time and schedule these activities around when we might benefit most from a flow of creativity – for instance, painting or going to a dance class before sequencing a class or planning a workshop.
Just as with getting back to more consistent practice, this can come through personal creative exploration or engaging with that of teachers or peers. All in all, we don’t have to struggle through a lack of creatively when our work continues to call for it. We can recognize the trend, not judge ourselves for it, and act upon what’s happening. That’s true yoga in action, I’d say. We can practice it in order to – as best we can – lead our students in their yoga practice. Om Shanti!
© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division