Friday, December 16, 2005

What to Look for When Hiring a Yoga Teacher (Part 2)

By Paul Jerard

Safety is a number one priority. Yoga teachers, who take risks with their students, put your business at risk. The Yoga teacher who physically abuses, his or her students, is not in the right profession.

Compassion is more than diplomacy and popularity, but these are a big help. When a Yoga teacher has compassion, the class is motivated to come back to the next Yoga class. This is a “win-win” situation for any facility, which employs compassionate Yoga instructors.

Communication is more than good cueing skills. Students learn primarily by seeing, listening, and feeling. One of these senses will be more dominant than the rest. A competent Yoga teacher will be able to reach all of these types of students.

Cueing is a skill refined by describing specifically how the body moves from one posture to the next. This is the hardest communication skill for most Yoga teachers to master.

Assisting is another communication skill, but must be applied gently, and with knowledge of alignment. Yoga teachers should ask for permission before making an assist. Otherwise, this can lead to misunderstandings. Assisting is great, but should not take over the entire class.

Demonstrating is very important. Some Yoga instructors like to walk around and cue. This is fine for part of the class, but what about the Yoga student who learns visually? This student is looking around at the Yoga teacher and everyone else.

Knowledge of alignment is not hard to learn, but some teachers get carried away with “their own demonstration” and forget about everyone in the room. If a Yoga student is showing poor posture, it should be corrected.

Listening does not seem like a “big deal,” but what about the Yoga teacher who doesn’t listen to his or her students? For example: A student has a problem in the L-5 area and the Yoga teacher decides to push the lower back a little. This could also be a lack of compassion, but some Yoga teachers do not listen to their students at all.

Modifications for beginners, older students, or those who have limited range of motion, due to skeletal compression are very important. The Yoga teacher who makes no allowance for these conditions, also puts your facility at risk. Therefore, all Yoga teachers should know how to use props and have a good grasp of body mechanics.

Lack of teacher ethics can put you out of business. We are all aware of the consequences of harassment suits, so we do not have to go too deeply on this one. The best Yoga teachers treat everyone fair and equally. Discrimination of any kind is wrong and very costly.

Continuing education is important in any field, and Yoga is no different. Yoga teachers should stay current in their knowledge of safety, modifications, anatomy, physiology, and kinesiology. They should also learn how to keep Yoga classes interesting with fresh ideas. In turn, this keeps members coming back for more.

Therefore, the best selection is a Yoga teacher with a balance of all these factors. The one dimensional Yoga teacher is not an optimum fit for any organization. Within this current climate of liability suits, safety is the most important factor of all.

Lastly, ask each Yoga candidate do an audition, and do not hire him or her until you have been part of the Yoga class. Always remember, “Seeing is believing” and “talk is cheap.”

© Copyright 2005 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications

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