Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Teaching Yoga Students About Pacing

about pacing
By: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed

Teaching Yoga to brand new students is both challenging and very rewarding. When a new student comes through the door of your studio, he or she will most likely have specific reasons for coming to your Yoga class. For many new students, their main motivation for practicing is often physical. They may want to get into better shape, hone their abs and lose a few pounds. Or they may have heard that practicing Yoga will help to prevent injuries when they are engaging in other sports, such as running on pavement or playing tennis. 

Of course, the many physical benefits of practicing a balanced series of Yoga postures on a regular basis, is well-known to both exercise physiologists and to experienced practitioners. By engaging in a flowing series of Yoga poses, which includes strengthening postures as well as elongating forward bends, twists and backbends, a student will experience greater physical energy, flexibility and strength. However, during the initial stages of establishing a regular Yoga practice, a brand new student will need to follow a manageable pace of postures and breathing exercises. 



As a professional Yoga teacher, it is important for you to offer classes that challenge your more experienced students, while still being accessible to new students. This can be quite tricky, to say the least! You may find that offering a series of Yoga classes, which are tailored specifically to introducing your brand new students to the basic postures of the Sun Salutation and other foundational poses, will help your new students to become familiar and comfortable with the practice in a safe and non-intimidating manner. In this way, you will be able to guide your new students through a slower pace of asanas and pranayama techniques, in contrast to the pace that you would normally set during a mixed level class. 

If you do not have enough brand new students to run a dedicated series of introductory Yoga classes, by crafting an intelligently-sequenced and easily modifiable series of asanas for a mixed level group of students, you will be able to set an accessible pace for your new students, as well as a satisfying and challenging pace for your more experienced students. It is very important that you emphasize safety and respect for one’s own individual level of fitness, flexibility and strength, during the course of your classes. By honoring his or her physical capabilities on a given day, the likelihood of sustaining an injury or burnout is much lower. 

This is particularly true of your brand new students. For instance, you may have a new student in your Yoga class who is quite physically fit, but who has very limited flexibility. Although this student may feel that he or she can fully extend into Triangle Pose without a hitch, by doing so without maintaining proper alignment in the posture, he or she may sustain an injury during class. And, as we all know, walking away from a Yoga class feeling worse than when you started is the quickest way to take the proverbial wind out of a brand new student’s sails!

By setting a manageable pace during the course of teaching Yoga to brand new students, you will help to optimize their ongoing enjoyment and success during the practice. If your students keep coming back to Yoga class, their practice will continue to deepen, as the repertoire of poses that they can practice safely and correctly will broaden naturally over time. Do not be demoralized if you have to keep reminding your new students of the correct alignment of the postures. Over time, teaching a “do-able” and balanced sequence of Yoga poses, pranayama exercises and relaxation techniques will create vibrant physical health and emotional well being, for both your new and experienced students alike.  

Virginia Iversen, M.Ed, has been practicing and studying the art of Yoga for over twenty years. She lives in Woodstock, New York, where she works as a writer and an academic support specialist. She is currently accepting Yoga and health-related writing orders and may be contacted at: enchantress108@gmail.com.

© Copyright – Virginia Iversen / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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2 comments:

parvezbdjsr said...

During the initial stages of establishing a regular Yoga practice, a brand new student will need to follow a manageable pace of postures and breathing exercises. Thanks for nice posting.

Mary Wilson said...

By setting a manageable pace during the course of teaching Yoga to brand new students, a teacher can help to optimize their ongoing enjoyment and success during the practice. Thanks for good posting.