Teaching Yoga to Beginners

teaching yoga to beginnersBy Jenny Park

How important is teaching Yoga to beginners? After you become a yoga instructor, you have so much more to share with your friends. Nothing excites me more when friends say they are interested in learning more about yoga. Then again, I find teaching students exciting at any stage, but to see the initial change in them at the very beginning is always thrilling. Many do not understand what yoga training is all about. Some think it is simply stretching, other think it is mostly meditation. It may be hard for us seasoned pros to remember how learning the basics can be overwhelming for the very first time. There are many approaches to introducing yoga and not every method will work for every student. So the best bet is to experiment with them all and go from there.

 

Breathing and Meditation

What I consider one of the most important elements of yoga, or perhaps the very most important is breathing. This is because it puts the body in the perfect condition to begin practice. Breathing is our prana, or life source. It is through this that all things live and feel alive. It is detrimental for a new student to master the breathing techniques of pranayama in order to benefit fully from practice. I like to create an atmosphere with dark lighting and candles, or twinkle lights strung up around the room, put on music, and teach techniques in that atmosphere to promote relaxation. I am always sure to make the beat of the music match the tempo of the breathing.

Find Their Preferred Style

Next is a good time to take a little trip through the different styles and types of yoga training techniques to find what is best for the beginner. You may speak with them first to learn about any problem areas they have such as back and neck pain, stress, or addictions. Lifestyle plays a very large role in selecting what type of yoga training is best. Also, take note of the student’s goals for yoga practice. What results would they like to come out of their new practice.

 

Be Informative and Involved

My very first experience with yoga was not a good time. I walked into a “beginners” class, but these people did not seem like beginners at all. The yoga instructor simply began the class with no introduction or instruction at all. She simply barked out the asanas and executed them. She didn’t even walk around the class or watch us to offer tips. Needless to say I was disenchanted, because of the lack of engagement with all of us. Teachers should always explain the move, how to execute it and the benefits it brings to educate both new and experienced students.

Teaching yoga to beginners is a skill and a niche that is underrated. For those of us who have been to a variety of classes, teachers who bark out instructions are very familiar with an experienced group or have no teaching skills that will help beginners. In fact, I see teachers in “advanced classes,” who are not qualified to teach accessible, gentle or beginner classes. One suggestion is that they take continuing education courses, which enhance their communication skills and classroom safety knowledge.

 

How important is all this?  New students could possibly stay with us for years or they might visit us for a short “barking” session before spending years studying and practicing yoga with a teacher down the street. Beginners are people too! It’s an important time for teachers, managers, and studios to recognize the potential value of new students.

Drive-Thru Yoga Philosophy

If we think teaching yoga to beginners is not a concern, we can serve new students poor quality classes and incomplete service. However, we should remember what has happened in the fast food drive-thru industry. Customers who get incomplete orders from a drive-thru eventually stop coming back. There are other options and we can make our tacos, pizza, or burgers at home. Granted, some companies give stellar drive-thru service, but that has become the exception. How often do comedians refer to the drive-thru experience? When the main course and side dishes make you wonder if you received another customer’s order, you might consider going without the ordeal. All joking aside: Potential yoga students can get plenty of options for streaming classes at home. Studios that keep producing high quality classes at all levels will survive, although we may also have to start producing online classes. However, those who treat new students to lackluster classes are in for a tough experience.

 

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