Friday, November 17, 2006

Teaching Hatha Yoga: How to Influence Students without Criticism

how to become a certified restorative yoga teacher
By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

When you are teaching Hatha Yoga classes, do you ever want to reach out to a particular student, who does not seem to understand a Yogic technique? Maybe you feel a bit frustrated that you have covered this same point, in the last six Yoga classes, and this student was there each time, but does not comprehend it.

You must first realize this Yoga student is very loyal and should not be taken for granted. Yoga teachers are human, and feel frustration, but this is a person who willingly gives his or her time to learn Yoga from you. The Yoga teacher / student relationship should never be taken for granted.

A loyal Yoga student is valuable, persistent, dedicated, and you should make him or her aware that you notice the effort. If you praise what he or she does right, your cueing, and assisting, will not be perceived as criticism. Self-worth is part of human nature and creates a Yoga student who is anxious to perform better at your next Yoga class.

When you speak to your Yoga students, no effort, on your part, should be wasted. Each word you speak, within your class, should have a high value and purpose. Some Yoga teachers relish every opportunity to criticize their students. Criticizing gives some teachers an opportunity to hear their own voice and feel important.

Be sure that what you have to say to your Yoga students is really helpful. Remember that criticism also makes your students feel unimportant. If a student perceives that a Yoga teacher is bolstering his or her ego, through criticism, the feeling of inspiration to come to more Yoga classes is gone.

Pure criticism tends to make Yoga students, and people in general, defensive, emotionally dejected, and causes a lack of enthusiasm, within the class. Knowing this, every Yoga teacher should use his or her knowledge to influence students. The difference is that a student has a distinct feeling of free will, when a Yoga teacher influences him or her, with compassion and true purpose.

There is a reason why students keep coming back to the same Yoga teacher. The reason will differ between students, and we cannot please everyone, but Yoga teacher ethics tell us to speak, assist, and cue with compassion.

When the ego is involved in teaching, this is the opposite of Yogic philosophy. There is no place for the “drill sergeant mentality” in Yoga. The Hatha Yoga teacher, who lets his or her ego guide the lesson plan, during a class, should be teaching something else.

The point is that all forms of Yoga require teachers who listen empathically, observe with mindfulness, and find solutions for mental, physical, and spiritual health. When a Yoga teacher truly cares about a student’s quality of life, the positive energy can be felt within the classroom. This is the purest form of influence.

© Copyright 2006 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications

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