What Should I Know About How to Teach Yoga Classes?

What should I know about how to teach Yoga classesBy Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500, YACEP

“What should I know about how to teach Yoga classes?” Some interns say it out loud, and many more think about the knowledge required before teaching.  After all, teaching Yoga isn’t easy, but any enthusiast with strong social skills should be able to teach classes. The key is to educate yourself as fully as possible before you start the process. If you dive in without doing some research, you’re bound to find yourself in over your head. By studying how to plan and execute the perfect class, you’ll become the type of Yoga instructor students want to learn from.

 

Your Practice

Before you can start planning and executing amazing classes, you must ensure your technique is the best possible. Not only does having your practice down make you a better teacher, but it will also make you more confident in front of the class. This self-assurance will make your students trust you.

How to Plan a Class

Running a yoga class isn’t something you can do while flying by the seat of your pants. A solid plan is necessary if you want the class to run smoothly. Here are some tips to remember if you want to manage a well-sequenced and successful class. Some schools, or styles, train you to follow an exact sequence, which is fine but might not help you with a class full of students that don’t physically fit into the demands of the lesson plan. So, templates are fine, but required modifications are usually not factored into the class.

 

Well-Balanced Sequencing

If you are not teaching yet, you are asking, “What should I know about how to teach Yoga classes?” To be successful, a Yoga class must have a well-constructed sequence that follows a standard template or a sequence you created. All of our graduates learn how to design a sequence, give modifications, and produce a well-rounded lesson plan. Forward, backward, left, right, and twisting movements are balanced throughout the asana practice. Some classes start with pranayama, warm-ups, meditation, relaxation, or specific exercises for grounding.

Room for Creativity

There is room for creativity, and just like music, there are thousands of ways to teach a Yoga class. The average class closing consists of five to ten minutes of Savasana so the students can unwind and connect with themselves. However, some classes finish with meditation, Yoga Nidra, or pranayama. Additionally, some Vinyasa and Power Yoga instructors only teach Ujjayi pranayama, which might not include relaxation or meditation. There is no right or wrong here, but if students find your class to be “extreme,” they will love it or hate it, but they will never say your class is boring.

 

Write Down The Planned Sequence

I still write with a pen on paper, but you might want to enter your notes on a tablet or laptop.  Students expect the instructor to move smoothly and easily from one step to the next. Nothing looks more out of place than stopping to think of what you’ll do next. With a cheat sheet in your pocket, you’ll be able to execute the class as planned efficiently. Try not to stare at your notes while your students stare at you. Some teachers glance at them when students are in a revolved or twisted position. The same rule goes for glancing at the clock.

 

Take Your Students Into Account

Not all Yoga students come to class with the same goals or experience levels. When planning your classes, it’s important to have the students’ needs in mind. If you offer a beginner or mixed class that goes over the heads of beginners, they’ll only get frustrated. If, on the other hand, you devise a mixed-level class with no challenges for experienced practitioners, they’ll feel like they’re wasting their time in your class.

How to Offer Instruction During a Class

Planning the perfect class is only half the battle. You also need to offer the type of fantastic instruction that will help students become better practitioners. The key is to give detailed explanations.  It will be easy to cover every detail while demonstrating on your mat. As time goes by, you will be able to explain a technique in detail while walking around the room.

 

Simplify

As a teacher, it’s easy to forget how complicated certain concepts can seem to beginners. What appears obvious to you might be unfathomable to someone unfamiliar with the basics of Yoga. Never assume that a quick description of an exercise or pose will be enough to get the idea across. Provide details and examples to ensure students of all experience levels can follow along.

 

Offer Constant Encouragement

There is a school of thought that states we should not praise our students because they will become vain. With the power of selfies, the ego is easily inflated these days. I feel we have to balance our praise, but we should not withhold encouragement from students who need it. As time passes, we learn to identify a student’s strengths and weaknesses on many levels. The danger of vanity in Yoga is pushing one’s body into injury. This is not a guarantee, but those who push raise the risk of injury.

Honest and Helpful Feedback

While any respectable Yoga teacher is adept at explaining asanas and other techniques, great instructors are also masters at keeping their students motivated. You should practice giving your students uplifting feedback to help them grow and improve. Praising good work comes easily, but making your critiques sound positive is a bit more challenging. Little by little, you’ll learn how to accompany every piece of feedback with an uplifting bit of encouragement.

 

Learn From Your Mistakes

No matter how much you prepare, you’re bound to make mistakes during your early days as an instructor. Teaching is hard, and it certainly doesn’t come naturally to everybody. Some students might be disappointed with your first classes, and you will notice lots of small details that go wrong. Don’t let yourself get discouraged by these mishaps. Every mistake is nothing more than a learning opportunity. As you get a feel for the art of teaching, you’ll evolve into the type of instructor you’ve always wanted to be.

© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

 

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