By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500, YACEP
Teaching Power Yoga can be a difficult task; not only is it fast moving, but it also is meant to physically challenge the practitioners. Keeping an eye on students, during a fast-flowing session can be hard, especially if a class is large or if it contains beginners unfamiliar with basic Yoga practices. New students being mixed into a class full of experienced students is the studio management’s call, but it is your challenge, if you teach Yoga classes.
Unless you are an instructor, who teaches advanced classes only, you will need to learn how to adapt each session toward the needs of your students. Depending on the size of your gym or studio, your class will likely be filled with a mixture of student levels – even within a session geared toward, say, intermediate practitioners, variations will occur.
Due to the fact that a Power Yoga sequence can be challenging, and flowing, modifying your class too much can seem to slow it down. In cases where only one or two students need more in-depth instruction, it can be helpful to ask one of your experienced students to lead the series, while you spend more time with those who need it.
Instruction, in any physical form of Yoga, should focus on alignment issues to help students avoid injury. Beginners must learn how to practice poses correctly, in order to both prevent injury, and receive the full benefits of their practice. Your role as a Yoga teacher is to encourage, guide, and provide feedback on technique. It is important, especially with the more tentative students, not to over-correct form, but to give each student just enough encouragement and instruction that he or she can continue improving and modifying their poses.
Safety Guidelines for Youths or Beginners
Some instructors believe that a Power Yoga class is no place for beginners or for kids. This is because an unfamiliarity with the poses ultimately means they cannot be practiced in a fast and flowing series. That being said, there are some cases when you may have beginners present in your classes.
When working with beginners, try not to use language that might be unfamiliar or overly anatomical. This can be confusing and discouraging to new students. It is also important to offer support and correction, realizing that beginners are there to learn and to practice correctly. If the beginner’s technique is consistently incorrect, and it is slowing down the pose series, incorporate strength postures that are relatively easy to do, yet physically challenging. Planks, for example, will keep the heart rate up even through a slower-than-normal Vinyasa series.
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