By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500, YACEP
How can we go about demonstrating Yoga techniques and observe our students at the same time? The difficulty and complexity of Yoga techniques can range from quite simple to potentially complex. One of the tasks of a Yoga instructor is to simplify the process of executing the postures. It takes a bit of practice to be able to lead the students into a more complex pose or pranayama technique, step-by-step. You want the movements to be smooth and easy, the verbal cues to be concise, and your physical demonstration to be accurate.
When you demonstrate Yoga techniques to your students, it is often beneficial to give a bit of background information, such as the history of the technique, the purpose of a posture, or defining the precision of a pranayama technique. It is also important to let your students know about the benefits of each technique, as well as the potential risks or concerns. When introducing new Yoga poses or pranayama techniques, let the students watch you first, as you verbally explain it. Then, let them try it while giving verbal cues. Practice new Yoga poses a few times before adding them into a specific sequence or flow of poses.
Liability is part of the responsibility of being a Yoga instructor. In order to make sure each of your students is safe, you must know your students. Yoga teachers need to be aware if a student has a health problem, injury, or some other area of concern. When you know your students, you can give specific advice, props, and modifications to them for postures that may pose a risk. It is also beneficial to break down more complex Yoga poses into steps. Demonstrate each step, and how to progress to the next step, until the posture is complete.
Make sure you are easily visible to all of your students. This can pose a challenge when you are teaching a large class, with limited space. When the instructor is at the front of the room, facing the students, this could limit visibility for students on the fringe of the class, or students in the back. Avoid potential problems by setting up the class in a way where mats are staggered, or by forming a semi-circle around you. Be aware of the students who might not have the best visibility, and communicate with them to make sure they are with you during the entire class. You might also change the position of your mat from time to time, if it will give the students a better view of the pose.
Demonstrating can also be difficult, when you are walking around the room making physical assists and adjustments. When you are walking around the room, there are times, when it is best to briefly demonstrate in an area where students who do not usually have the best angle can see you. As your Yoga classes expand in size, it is wise to have other teachers in the room to help with adjustments. This extra attention from an assistant provides each Yoga student the optimum learning experience.
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