By: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed
The fall season is often a time of year when people begin a new exercise regime or sign up for new activities. This is also true of Yoga classes and workshops. At this time of the year, you may find that you have a number of brand new students in your classes. Guiding a group of mixed level students through an hour long Yoga class is often challenging. When you have a number of brand new students in your class, effectively teaching a mixed level class that meets the needs and expectations of more advanced students, while honoring the needs of new students, can entail quite a bit of teaching finesse.
As a general rule of thumb, having an ample supply of appropriate Yoga props available to your students is important. In this way, you will be able to safely and effectively lead a group of mixed level ability students through a balanced sequence of asanas. Most of the props used in Yoga classes help to facilitate students in their practice of personally challenging postures, without sacrificing practicing the poses in correct alignment. As a certified Yoga instructor, you are well aware of the necessity and importance of practicing the postures in correct alignment.
When you are teaching Yoga to brand new students, the use of props can be intimidating, to say the least! Just walking through the door of a Yoga studio may have caused waves of anxiety and trepidation in the hearts of some of your new students. Brand new students may feel intimidated by the easy camaraderie of your regular students, as well as the foreign sounding, Sanskrit names of the postures and the fashionable Yoga attire of many of the class attendees! New students may also have concerns about their physical limitations and about being able to practice the poses safely and comfortably.
In order to put your brand new Yoga students at ease, it is optimal to greet your new students personally and introduce yourself. It is also important to have your new students fill out a health questionnaire, so that you are aware of any particular health problems with which they are contending. In addition, by being available during class for any questions, as well as for ten minutes or so after class to address personal concerns, your new students will feel more at ease during the initial phases of establishing a Yoga practice.
Remember that your brand new students will be unfamiliar with the Yoga poses, and most will be completely unfamiliar with the Sanskrit names of the postures. In order to make the practice a little more “user-friendly,” you may want to introduce the postures with the English names, such as Eagle Pose, Tree Pose or Child’s Pose. In this way, the names of the postures will correlate with the form of the postures themselves. In addition, by having a set of Yoga props with you at the front of the class and briefly reviewing how to use the props for a few minutes at the beginning of your class, the brand new students in your class will feel more comfortable identifying and using the props at the appropriate time.
As your new Yoga students begin to understand the flow of the practice, and the modifications and props available to them to help make the practice more accessible to them, they will begin to relax and be able to enter more deeply into the postures and breathing exercises. In addition, by warmly inviting your new students to approach you with any questions about their practice, they will feel much more comfortable returning to your class again and again. Soon, your brand new students will become dedicated practitioners, as the myriad benefits of a regular Yoga practice becomes evident in their own lives.
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: email@example.com.
© Copyright 2015 – Virginia Iversen / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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