Teaching Yoga: The Power of Observation - Yoga Practice Blog

Teaching Yoga: The Power of Observation

power of observation in teaching yogaBy Amruta Kulkarni, CYT 500

How important is the power of observation when teaching yoga classes? If you have ever seen a master yoga teacher at work, you probably gazed in wonder as he or she created an inviting, calm class atmosphere; put people at ease with a smile, gesture, or comment; or flowed through a series of poses, detailing modifications and potential risks, without a hitch. Although teaching yoga comes naturally for some of us, there is much to be learned about teaching skills and methods simply by observing others. The best yoga teachers are never satisfied with their methods but seek to improve constantly by watching other master yoga teachers practice. Teachers themselves, then, are nothing more than lifelong students. This is a point that Dr. Paul makes many times.


Diversified Knowledge

Yoga teachers in training must learn about the history and philosophy of yoga, the benefits and risks associated with the poses, class sequencing, breathing techniques, forms of meditation, and more. Upon receiving all this knowledge, yoga teacher interns must then find a way to synthesize it all and put it into practice. This is where the art of teaching comes into play. Anyone can become very knowledgeable about yoga or have a passion for it, but not everyone can convey that knowledge to a group of students using effective teaching methods. This is one of many reasons why the power of observation is so important when teaching classes.

When and Why We Walk the Room

Walking around the room when we are out of position to see what our students are doing is one of our most powerful tools as yoga teachers. It allows us to ensure that everyone is safe and sound in their practice. We can also use this time to give corrections and adjustments to individual students. When we are in a position, we can see how the student is progressing and catch any mistakes they might be making. This way, we can help them improve their practice and avoid injuries.


Path of Continuing Education

Learning is most effective when the learner can observe what they need to do, practice it under the supervision of an expert, ask questions, change what needs changing, and then finally perform the task without intervention. The power of observation is a key piece of the puzzle because interns need to grow their background knowledge of teaching methods by experiencing them firsthand. By watching experienced instructors, interns learn how to interact with yoga students, structure the class to ensure an adequate flow, handle a diverse group of people, encourage students to do what feels right for their bodies, and much more.


Observation is the Key

Observation is powerful because it allows potential yoga instructors to see experienced instructors using the teaching methods they have read about. Students can then ask questions and try these methods for themselves. It is important for yoga teachers to keep sharpening their skills with each yoga class taught. By observing each other, yoga teachers can gain helpful hints, tips, and tricks to use in their teaching practice. When teaching yoga, observing your students from the feet up in yoga poses is important. This will help you spot any imbalances or problems with their form. From the feet up, you can see if their weight is evenly distributed, if they’re standing correctly and if their posture is good. You can also see if they’re holding their breath or tensing up muscles. The power of observation reminds us to watch students from the feet up and ensures that they’re practicing the pose safely.

The Challenge of Complex Sequencing

There are a few things to consider regarding complex sequencing and a yoga teacher’s attention span. First, it is important to be aware of your attention span and how it might be affected by sequencing. If you are easily distracted, it might be best to stick to simpler sequences. Second, remember that your students will also have varying attention spans. It is important to gauge the class as a whole and ensure that the sequence you teach is appropriate for everyone. Finally, don’t forget to focus on your breath and stay present at the moment. This will help you maintain your attention span and avoid getting lost in the sequence.


Mental Connection

Aside from the issues mentioned above, the Yoga teacher who turns his or her back to students while teaching a group has decided to perform rather than teach. The mental connection between a yoga teacher and student is kept alive with careful observation, cueing, and assisting students when needed. When we forget to maintain eye contact, we have broken the connection between student and teacher. One of the most important things you can do as a yoga teacher is to connect with each student in your class. This means reading their energy and understanding what they need to feel comfortable and safe in the class. It’s also important to be able to adjust your teaching style to meet the needs of each student. By doing this, you’ll be able to create a more personal and intimate experience for everyone in your class.

The Place for Multitasking

We teach our students to reduce multitasking, but a teacher’s role requires multitasking during class. Observant yoga teachers can multitask. They watch their students carefully, ensuring they do the poses correctly and adjust them as needed. They also listen to their students, paying attention to their breathing and any sounds they might be making. This allows them to give each student the individual attention they need. Additionally, observant yoga teachers can take in the whole class, looking for any issues that might arise and addressing them before they become a problem. Observing allows us to keep our students safe at all times.


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