By Faye Martins, Jenny Park, and Narendra Maheshri
Teaching Yoga requires a certain level of commitment to yourself and the students learning from you. Just as life is constantly evolving, so is your practice. Choosing yoga techniques for a lesson plan will depend on several factors.
Some of those factors will include the types of classes you will be teaching. After all, a class you would prepare for school-age children would probably require a different lesson plan than a class you would be leading for people who are senior citizens. A beginner’s Yoga class will differ from a more advanced class.
All Levels Welcome Classes
Of course, many classes are advertised as “open to anyone, regardless of age or Yoga experience.” It is helpful to have a specific set of poses in mind, along with how to teach people variations on what you are doing.
This can help keep beginners comfortable and focused and can also help keep more experienced students engaged in the class. Yoga lesson plans certainly do not have to be rigid or set in stone. Instead, they should act as a guide that can help you stay on track and help your students as they learn.
Lesson plans will vary significantly according to what style of Yoga you are teaching. Hatha Yoga plans will focus more on the gentle flow of poses and some meditation, along with some chanting. After all, this form of Yoga is for people looking for a complete Yogic experience.
Power Yoga classes will be altogether different. This form of Yoga is very physically demanding, with meditation kept to a minimum. The lesson plan for Power Yoga will undoubtedly be more physically challenging than most types of Yoga. Deep relaxation might be avoided altogether in many Power-based classes.
Ebb and Flow in a Class
When you are teaching a class, keep in mind that you are also learning from your students. The ebb and flow of energy is constantly present within the class. That’s why it is good to be able to lean upon a lesson plan but to be flexible enough to change it as needed.
Poses that seem challenging to one Yoga class might be the perfect option for another type of class, and often, that can’t be determined until you are in the depths of teaching. As your practice and experience grow, so will your ability to gauge which lesson plans offer the most for yourself and your students.
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Planning Classes and Developing New Lessons
By Kathryn Boland
How do you go about choosing Yoga techniques for a lesson plan? Do you sometimes feel a need for creative inspiration for your teaching? Do you have ways to “refill your creative cup”? Are you looking for some? Teaching yoga is an inherently creative act; we design consequences, choose themes and music, offer a poetry reading in our speech when we teach, et cetera. Yet – just like anyone who works creatively – we can feel out of creative inspiration. That doesn’t stall the demands for our creativity, however.
What to do? Here are some suggestions for re-inspiring yourself creatively.
Return to Practice
Choosing Yoga techniques for a lesson plan is difficult if we lack personal practice. Occasionally, I’m surprised to hear fellow yoga instructors say they haven’t practiced in a few weeks or even longer. Unsurprisingly, a long time spent without personal practice (apart from holistic benefits not gained) could result in one’s creative bank going low.
Yoga instructors are often on tight budgets and strapped for time – both things that can get in the way of practicing. Here, however – as with much in life – where there’s a will, there indeed can be a way.
Personal Practice Ideas
Some studios have “community” classes for $5-$10, significantly less than the drop-in rate for most regular studio classes. Another option classes at places where you teach; many studios, gyms, and other locations offer their teachers classes for free.
If time is more the issue, online yoga video subscriptions often offer shorter practices, created to still hit all the crucial markers (backbends, side bends, inversions, et cetera) – without time spent on travel.
Something to consider is that these video classes don’t offer a connection to, and often valuable feedback from, teachers.
Those aspects offer to learn from other teachers, which can fuel creativity. Choosing Yoga techniques for a lesson plan can be an inspirational experience. New prop uses, mantra, mudra inclusions, sequencing, et cetera can inspire one.
We can use elements of what they taught without feeling like we’re stealing (and, better yet, credit the source to our students). Yet significant inspiration can also come from personal practice; we can find little nuggets of discovery in how our bodies guide us to move and breathe, which we can then use in our teaching.
There’s also no price charged for personal practice, and it can be far more flexible with timing than group classes or videos!
Time and money constraints can make accomplishing continuing education difficult for teachers. Formally speaking, it’s required to maintain teacher credentials, so we must find ways.
That can include bartering teaching classes for teacher education workshops at studios that may offer them, as one example. Informal, intermittent study – in “little bites” such as reading articles and watching short online posture labs – can reinvigorate our creativity.
It can introduce us or reintroduce us to game-changing concepts. Short of game-changing, it can intrigue us enough to alter certain subtle aspects of practice. We can then include these changes in our classes.
Additionally, transforming such methods into our voice and style as teachers is a creative act. You’ll gain something new (or re-gain something forgotten), which – more importantly – is something to pass on to your students. Choosing Yoga techniques for a lesson plan is easier when we are active in our studies.
Inspire Yourself Outside Yoga
Many yoga instructors I know have creative interests outside of yoga – from music to dance to painting. These areas can indeed offer creative inspiration for yoga practice and teaching.
Commonalities and connections between those disciplines and yoga can illuminate universal truths or less broad – but nuanced and intriguing – ideas. Shape, line, texture, tone, and other qualities explored in different art forms can inspire asana sequencing.
Flow of Creativity
Engaging in our favorite creative activities can also energize and motivate us. This process can ease the beginning signs of burnout – one of which is a lack or low level of creativity, but which also includes fatigue and tending toward negative moods.
We might be able to sometimes time and schedule these activities around when we might benefit most from a flow of creativity – for instance, painting or going to a dance class before sequencing a class, or planning a workshop.
As with getting back to more consistent practice, this can come through personal creative exploration or engaging with teachers or peers. We don’t have to struggle through a lack of creativity when our work continues to call for it.
We can recognize the trend, not judge ourselves, and act upon what’s happening. That’s true yoga in action, I’d say. We can practice it to – as best we can – lead our students in their yoga practice. Om Shanti!
© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division