Ultimate Guide to Teaching Vinyasa Yoga Classes

about teaching Vinyasa Yoga classesBy Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500, YACEP

What should you know about teaching Vinyasa Yoga classes? Let’s look at this subject from the basics and up. Vinyasa Yoga has become increasingly popular in the past few decades. Anyone who wants to stay healthy knows the importance of frequent exercise, and certain forms of Yoga provide the vigorous workouts needed to stay in great shape. At the same time, Yoga also directly helps to improve the mind by emphasizing the importance of meditation and mindfulness. Therefore, Yoga is ideal for people seeking to stay active because of the mental stamina and focus that regular exercise can offer. If you are looking for a vigorous form of Yoga, you should understand why teaching Vinyasa Yoga classes is one of the best options available.

 

What is the Vinyasa Method?

Vinyasa Yoga is a style that stands out for having practitioners move directly from one pose to another. When poses are changed, practitioners inhale or exhale in special ways. Instructors guide practitioners on the precise moment when poses should be changed. The breath control used in Vinyasa yoga causes practitioners to feel as though their breathing is moving their body. When you practice Vinyasa yoga, you can expect to feel what many students describe as a relatively extreme sense of relaxation at the end of a course.

Unlike most styles, teaching Vinyasa Yoga classes involves vigorous aerobic activity. Most students are sweating and breathing heavily throughout most of a Vinyasa session. Additionally, Vinyasa involves extensive movements and postures that ultimately reach all muscle groups. The use of breath control alongside aerobic movement creates new possibilities when it comes time for relaxation. Vinyasa researchers and experts have developed specific processes that aim to maximize the feelings of relaxation, which students experience at the end of a session.

As a form of Yoga, Vinyasa typically emphasizes a short meditation session at the beginning or end of a class. This meditation is often done while lying down or being in the conventional sitting position, such as Sukhasana (Easy Pose). These days, mindfulness is often an important part of meditation in a Vinyasa class. Practitioners might also focus on mindfulness, when they practice flowing postures that involve breath control. The ability to practice mindfulness, while also going through a flowing sequence, is one of the main features that makes Vinyasa attractive.

 

Why Teach a Vinyasa Session?

According to the DOYOU Global Yoga Survey, Vinyasa Yoga is by far the most popular form of Yoga. The survey covered 147 countries and over 10,000 participants. Overall, the study found that 57 percent of students find Vinyasa to be their preferred form of Yoga. Since the vast majority of students are turning to Vinyasa, the demand for instructors who are teaching Vinyasa Yoga classes is booming. Even in small towns, experienced instructors usually have no problem filling daily classes with over 50 seats.

Getting Certified as an Instructor

Demand for Vinyasa classes is very high, so knowing how to teach Vinyasa is a must for instructors. Health clubs and Yoga studios usually work with certified instructors. The average course that prepares one for teaching Vinyasa Yoga classes takes a minimum of 200-hours to complete. Getting 200 hours of training as an instructor takes a significant amount of time, but this requirement is relatively easy compared to the training required to get started in many other fields. Aura wellness Center has an online Vinyasa Yoga teacher course.

Also, experience as a Vinyasa instructor can usually be obtained at no cost by doing a little networking. If you want to teach Vinyasa because you regularly take courses on your own, chances are that an experienced instructor would love the opportunity to get an extra helping hand from an assistant in exchange for showing you the ropes of teaching Vinyasa Yoga classes.

 

Becoming a Competent Instructor

As the last section clarified, getting certified as a Vinyasa instructor is not that complicated. The real challenge, however, is the process of becoming a competent instructor. Taking courses, and learning from instructors you respect, can definitely help you to offer more effective lessons and broaden your understanding of Vinyasa. However, the best instructors learn to develop the soft skills, which help them to teach more effectively, such as skills in communicating, networking, and leading classes when you are called upon. Other tips on becoming a competent Vinyasa instructor are outlined below.

Focus on Students With Less Time

Although you can expect some students to attend almost every class, the reality is that many people might only be able to come in once a week. Some of these less frequent students might even skip classes for weeks at a time. The reality is that the vast majority of people have too many responsibilities at work and home to consistently attend classes.

As a result, it is important to design your courses around people who can only attend courses casually. You can incorporate more advanced methods into your classes, but make sure that casual enthusiasts can keep up. In this way, you can be sure to offer the instruction that most of your students ultimately need.

 

Talk to Students Individually

When teaching Vinyasa Yoga classes, it is easy to perceive yourself as an instructor of a group, rather than the exact teacher that your students are really looking for. Instructors simply stand in front of a large group of students to keep everyone going in the same direction. If you are instructing a large class, it is easy to perceive the mass of students as a lifeless crowd.

In reality, the crowd of students is full of individuals who each have their own learning style and questions about what they are doing. Therefore, it is imperative to communicate directly with students in a way that enables them to learn as effectively as possible.

When you talk directly with your students, you can teach new information after getting their feedback. In the process of working directly with students, you will build a closer relationship with each of your students in a way that significantly increases their chances of coming back. The bottom line is that communicating with your students makes you a more effective teacher while also building your teaching skills. One example is of individual conversation is talking with a student during a physical or verbal assist.

 

Avoid Talking Too Much

We must communicate, but there is also a limit to how much talking we do. As an instructor, you are responsible for providing the direction necessary for keeping your students on the same page. You will need to tell students how to sit, when to move, and what to think at all times. Without clear direction, classes can become disorderly and waste a lot of time. It is sometimes necessary to provide extensive detail about some transitions or postures. However, many Vinyasa instructors end up providing too much detail in a complicated vocabulary that makes it difficult for students to understand.

Consequently, instructors need to learn to balance the necessity of providing instruction with the need for students to become closer with their inner selves. If students are mentally focused on the small talk or jokes you are making, they will not be able to follow you properly. As an instructor, you should aim to speak as simply as possible while still keeping students engaged and focused during class time.

 

Consider Varying Class Themes

When you work as a professional Yoga instructor, you will put on thousands of classes over the course of your life. Over time, you will develop a model for your sessions that you perceive as ideal. It is, however, important to remember that some students will come to your Vinyasa classes almost every day. Eventually, these loyal students will get bored if every class is basically the same.

Additionally, the students who come to your classes only once a week can often choose what day they will attend. If you can give them a menu of options, you can provide more choice while giving them something to look forward to. As a result, you can serve all of your students better by offering different themes on different days of the week. You can use your imagination and resources to choose how you will theme and vary  your Vinyasa classes in your own way, but some options to consider may include the following situations.

Alternating classes between indoor and outdoor environments.

Changing the lighting for a “relaxation day” or “disco day.”

Creatively using props, such as pillows or blankets.

Emphasizing certain activities on different days, such as “meditation Mondays” or “high-energy Wednesdays.”

 

Learn From Your Students

When you are in charge of a Vinyasa class, it is easy to fall prey to the false notion that learning is only a one-way street. In reality, instructors should be constantly gathering feedback from their students to understand how they can improve their classes. During a class, you should be on the lookout for situations when students are struggling. Consider using a notebook after class as you teach Vinyasa to note the times when you observe students stumbling, being confused, or feeling fatigued. You can then test different approaches in future courses to correct these problems.

Additionally, talking to students before and after a class is a significant opportunity to learn how you can improve. Many students have dozens of Yoga instructors over the years, so they can often provide great ideas for improving your classes. After class, your students can also directly tell you if they felt confused, tired, or uncomfortable. Taking action based on student feedback can help any instructor reach new heights in competence. Based upon teaching experience, you will spot potential safety issues and prevent accidents before they happen. The same can be said for every aspect of teaching.

Teaching Skills to Enhance

Observation should be an easy concept to grasp. When we lose eye contact with our students, they are at risk. These concepts are taught during the preparation and execution of a practical exam. The practicum prepares interns for their auditions and the safe operation of instructing Yoga classes. Teaching Vinyasa Yoga classes requires you to model and watch. Unless you have assistant teachers present, and making adjustments, you should walk around the room any time you are out of position to see your students. If you are certified and did not take a practical exam, you know this is a hard skill to master. For some teachers, their Yoga mat is an island that they stay on for the duration of a class. Some of them look around and some never watch their students. For the safety of all students, a practical exam prepares all of us for real life situations. With many bodies moving at once, a Vinyasa instructor needs to see his or her students at all times.

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