Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Becoming An Effective Yoga Teacher: How To Teach Yoga Classes

how to teach yoga
By Faye Martins

When a former student has survived and passed their 200 hour yoga teacher training and they're ready to teach a yoga class, the idea can be daunting. Teaching is something a teacher will have to learn through experience. However, there are steps to take to make sure classes are successful and will bring students back again and again.

Become Adept at Sequencing

The idea of sequencing is being able to offer a routine to students that's progressive, meaning teachers aren't just throwing out poses in random orders. Teachers will always start with more mild poses and gradually increase the heat (or intensity) as the class progresses. Standing poses are introduced first as they help the students acquaint with their "outer body" (the limbs and their connections) and awaken the body as they improve posture and balance. Once the body is awakened, the class can begin to increase in intensity and allow the body to build heat. Students don't want to start with poses that will raise the heartbeat then take them to a reclined twist before asking them to complete three rounds of Sun Salutes as they can lead to imbalances or injury.

Learn to Observe

When a teacher gets in front of their students, they shouldn't become blind to how the students are doing in each pose. Checking students' alignment is key to ensuring they don't get injured. Since most classes are multi-level classes, meaning there will be complete beginners to yogis that are more experienced than the teacher, teachers will have to keep a flexible eye on the class; they will go from adjusting one student in down dog to adjusting an experienced yogi in their inversions. The best way to evaluate students is to keep a close eye during the initial Sun Salutations. This will bring light to who needs the most attention during the simple poses and serve as a reminder to keep in mind the experienced students will need adjustments, too.

Watch Your Language

Rattling off the asana names in Sanskrit is fun but it can draw students' attention away from what's important in yoga: their mind and bodies. Teachers should tell students exactly what they want from them, using active words like "press" and "lift" to help them visualize exactly what they should be doing with that part of their body. An intention that might be set for the class is to simplify the mind, bringing students down from their state of mental overload and introducing something that's a bit more simple. Teachers should always gauge the attention of the class when they start. Are they focusing on what is being asked of them or are they looking around the class in distraction? This is when teachers know what kinds of words to use to motivate and center them. Intermixed with active words should be words like "soften" and "release" to help gently bring their minds back to their practice.

Teaching yoga has many aspects, but the biggest thing to remember is keeping students' current states--whether physical or mental--in mind. Whether they're injured or their minds are wandering outside of the studio, it's crucial to remember that each student has different needs during that class. Teachers who are just learning how to teach yoga classes need to easily balance between evaluating alignment to helping bring a harried student's mind back to their Ujjayi breathing without missing a beat.
Faye Martins, is a Yoga teacher and a graduate of the Yoga teacher training program at: Aura Wellness Center in, Attleboro, MA.  Click here to receive Yoga videos, Podcasts, e-Books, reports, and articles about Yoga.


parvezbdjsr said...

An effective yoga teacher always start the class with more mild poses and gradually increase the heat as the class progresses. Thanks for this good article.

Yogini Carol said...

You are so right in that sequencing is most challenging to a new yoga teacher. A year after teaching my first class I find sequencing the hardest part of planning my classes. I just try to remember to start with the most basic asanas to warm up the body before progressing on.