By Azahar Aguilar
The thirst for knowledge - As a yoga instructor this need should hit you every so often; if you feel comfortable in your teaching practice, then it's time to learn something new. There is always something more to learn as a yoga instructor, in order to give your students the best and safest experience possible.
Most yoga injuries are preventable, but it takes a trained and experienced eye to recognize opportunities to help students in the midst of practice, and to communicate safe techniques clearly.
Teachers learn over time and with experience, so inevitably one of the best ways for new teachers to learn is with a trained mentor. Someone that attends many of the new teacher's first classes offers constructive feedback and will stick by on the journey that is teaching. Regular check-ins by fellow teachers or studio management is the best way to keep communication open and improvement developing for first time instructors as well.
Yearly Action Steps for Instructors
Each New Year brings about new opportunity for instructors to continue their yoga education journey. Workshops are usually offered in every city around the world, focused on adjustments, queuing techniques, anatomy, and all of the eight amazing limbs of Yoga. As a teacher, continuously strive to learn clearer queues, new adjustments and updated knowledge. Discuss with fellow teachers regularly, read new books on the practice or the yoga classics. Find a blog to follow regularly on the holistic healing benefits.
Be curious, be passionate, and love your students and yourself enough to be present in this practice of teaching. Set a reminder every year on your teaching anniversary (the month you became a yoga instructor) to review what you've learned the previous year, and set in place new goals for the coming year.
Yoga Studio Owner and Management Responsibilities
Studio owners and management have the amazing opportunity to offer and encourage their instructors to learn more and develop further yoga interests. Offer regular workshops for your teachers in everything from new adjustments to essential oils training. When you spark curiosity in your instructors, they will inevitably pass that on to their students, and the world at large. It will not only keep your practitioners safer, but also empower your instructors to be the best leaders possible.
As an example, if you hear of a student or teacher having issues with a repetitive shoulder injury, take the time to organize a class or workshop for teachers (and perhaps even students) that covers all things involved with a safe chaturanga dandasana. Perhaps even speak to the awareness of how many chaturangas are offered each class, and encourage teachers to find a new flow connector every now and then to lessen the number. Your awareness of the teaching environment will make your instructors more aware, and a create safer environment for everyone.
Encourage Students to Learn
Inspire your students to branch out into new areas of yoga. To sign up for workshops, one-on-one training, or to simply research for themselves the practice and asanas further. Spark discussion in students involving safe techniques and things to look out for. The more conversation and interest you can open, the better for all teachers and students.
Be Mindful of Three Types of Students
Hold awareness of the bodies around you in your next yoga class. Yoga injuries come from a few different spaces in students: the ego, the new student and the injured student.
Infuse reminders into your dialogue during class to recognize when the ego may try to push the body beyond what is comfortable and appropriate. To understand it is a daily practice, and every day is different.
Ask new students in class to raise their hand (or use another technique) in order to welcome them, and also to be mindful of their practice as they move through new ways of placing their body. Think back to your own first class and remember how much there was to absorb the first time. Breathe love into these new students with attention to prevent unnecessary injuries.
Injured students are usually mindful and in tune with what their bodies are capable of; however if the recovery process is slow, it could lead to a rise in the ego. Injured students want to return back to the space they experienced with healthy mind and body, but patience must be a part of this processes every step of the way. Encourage your practitioners to dialogue with you about injuries they experience in order to offer them adjustments or queues most appropriate for them.
Go Out and Educate
Take an active role in encouraging yearly yoga education for yourself and those around you. The prevention of injuries is only one of the benefits from a continuously educated instructor. This is a lifelong practice for a reason. What is something new you could learn today?
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