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  • Writer's pictureNidhi

How To Lead A Yoga Class

Updated: Mar 25, 2022







I still remember those butterflies in my stomach as I was stepping in for my first class. It was a trial class with an elderly practitioner. I remember spending hours thinking of the right sequences in my mind. I was nervous and just wanted to impress her. Relatable? It does happen to all of us, isn't it?

Well, to all the new teachers out there, and practitioners who want to become yoga teachers take a deep breath and close your eyes and relax. Now open your eyes and let me share some of my experience with you.


So what makes a good yoga teacher? There could be many opinions but in general-

  • Someone who understands the student's needs,

  • Is able to help them in moving forward,

  • Encouraging but not too pushy,

  • Calm,

  • Patient but full of energy and the list goes on......

For beginners, it may be overwhelming to lead the class and that is absolutely okay. But with Regular practice, the confidence will rise and you will be able to fulfill the responsibilities which come with being a teacher.


1. Instructions- Ensure that your instructions are very very clear. This is even important in a virtual setting. Clear instructions will help you gain the confidence of your practitioners. If it's a beginner class, then simpler instructions will be very helpful. For Instance- Simple Instructions for Standing Tadasana for a beginner class can be something like this-


Initial Position- Stand with your feet together, arms by the side of the body, chin parallel to the ground.

Approaching Position-Inhale and raise both of the arms above your head.

Interlock, reverse, and stretch

Create a length in the body, gaze at the level of your eyes and stay here

Breathe.

Resting Position- Exhale and bring both arms down to relax, continue breathing.

As and when the batch gets thorough with the practice, you can use more technical words like- stand in Samasthiti, along with guiding them to the deep anatomy parts such as, feel the Lumbar lifting up, etc.


2. Reminder For Breathing- This is a common mistake done by new teachers. Many a time the asana instructions take all the attention away so we forget to remind the practitioners for breathing. Make it a habit to say "continue breathing" as many times as possible (I am not even kidding). You will notice that if you don't remind the practitioners to breathe, they tend to hold their breath along with holding the asanas, even though unintentionally.


3. Positive Statements- This was a feedback I got from a practitioner during my early teaching days. In the context of body imbalances, I used the sentence as "one of your shoulders appears to be weaker than the other but it's going to be okay". After the class when we discussed the experience of the class she mentioned that though I meant all well and everything but I could always say it alternatively as "your one shoulder is very flexible, that's amazing. The other one is going to be at par very soon. "

She herself is a wellness coach, so what she meant was that highlighting strength will always work positively on people's brains.


4. Open Communication- This approach is something that helps not in just yoga teaching but in every other aspect of life too. But in the context of Yoga Teaching, open communication with practitioners will help you design a better class as well as build a better relationship with the practitioners. Below are some points which I use in my classes-

  • If it is a morning class, ask if they slept well. The answer will determine what kind of class it's going to be, which then eventually sets the tone of their day.

  • If it's any other time in the day, ask if they have been engaged in any activity/meeting, etc. (Just normal conversation). For Instance, if someone has been busy working before the yoga class then shoulder and spine stretches would be a must to include.

  • At the end of the class spend 5-6 minutes, talking to the practitioners, if they would like to include/exclude something from the practice. (Of course, you shouldn't ask this every day. sometimes. just general conversation will give you the feel of whether or not they enjoyed the class. )

  • Ensure that all of this conversation happens either before the class or after the class. During the class avoid too much conversation. Building this habit early in your teaching career will save you a lot of time. Trust me, you will come across some practitioners who will keep talking for 30 minutes and then expect you to extend the class.

  • Be very very open to feedback, remember no matter how effective your selection of asanas/ pranayama/kriyas is, if the practitioner is not getting the benefits then it's of no use. This is not a one size fits all practice. It is very important that we stay in sync with our practitioners.

5. Knowledge Sharing- Doing a Yoga Teachers training helps us realize one very important thing, Yoga is much more than just asanas. It's a lifestyle based on oneness, it's a way to look at life, it's a philosophy. It has been mentioned in the earliest texts available, and I could just go on. Now, as new teachers, you may think this is a wonderful idea if we could teach our practitioners the real meaning of yoga and philosophy, etc. But, let me stop you right there, you will be surprised to find that not many practitioners are interested in all this knowledge sharing. Most of them would come to you just to explore the physical possibilities with Yoga. Knowledge sharing is only fruitful when you find the right receptivity. "How Much" needs to be decided wisely.



6. Value Your Time- There are multiple aspects to this point. First, Starting and ending class on time will bring discipline into the practice. Second- You will not get exhausted. Third- This habit has to be built from the beginning otherwise there is no turning around from there and I say this with experience. Some of the practitioners started coming late and I didn't say anything, I kept extending their class time to accommodate the full 60 minutes, as a result, all of my subsequent classes will get delayed and at the end of the day, I would just be exhausted.

Initially, I thought it won't happen again, but then it became her habit, and because I wanted to build a strong relationship (and was scared of losing her as a practitioner) I couldn't say anything. And guess what, this lack of discipline made her lose interest in the classes, she started taking it for granted and eventually dropped out.

So as I said, value your time. If you won't, no one else would.


So these are a few suggestions that I have experienced in my teaching as well. Different teachers may have different ways of approaching the class and that is absolutely okay. The best thing to do is to continue teaching and eventually the best approach for you will come to you.


What are your teaching experiences? Write in the comment box or email me on yogafitness.nidhi@gmail.com





Authored by

Nidhi (Senior Teacher @Ayushman Yog)

Level 1- 200 hrs., Level 3- 800 hrs. (YCB)

MSC (Yoga), MSC(Vedanta)

yogafitness.nidhi@gmail.com



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