When you make the decision to become a yoga instructor you make a commitment to continually find new ways to get more from your students. Yoga is a process of continual improvement – so progression is important to ensure your class continues to move forward and achieve their goals. Here are five ways to get more from your yoga class:
1. Set expectations at the start of each class
Before you start warming up, and transitioning your class into the poses, you need to make sure they know exactly what to expect – and what is expected from them.
Welcome your students into the class, focusing on new students to help them feel at ease. Give your students a brief overview of how you intend to spend the session. This doesn’t need to be an in-depth analysis of each pose – you’ll do this as you move through the class – but a short summary to set their expectations.
Tell them what the main focus of the class will be, the pace at which you’ll be working, and how they should approach the scaling options. If you have a hands-on approach, let them know you’ll be moving around the room to adjust them, if necessary.
When you clearly set the expectations, your students can prepare themselves mentally for the class and make sure they provided you with the expected level of focus and attention.
2. Remove any distractions
Before your students arrive, remove any distractions from the room. If the sun is bright, and shining through the window, close the blinds or curtains to ensure this doesn’t distract or obscure students’ view of you at the front of the class.
Keep the space as clear as possible. If you’re working in a gym studio, remove any unnecessary equipment to create an open, inviting space.
As your students begin to arrive, as you set your expectations, be clear when it comes to distractions. Ask them to turn off any mobile phones, and make sure they’re comfortable before they start. Advise them on clothing – if the class will be slow-paced, and your students are likely to feel cold, tell them. Likewise, if you’re going to be moving quickly, suggest they might want to remove any jumpers or sweatshirts. This helps them prepare for the lesson ahead, and minimise distraction when they need to adjust their clothing during the lesson.
3. Be approachable
A good yoga instructor needs to know their students well. Provide an open and friendly environment, and arrive early so your students may discuss any concerns or issues before the class begins.
This is especially important when you’re teaching a beginners class, as your students may feel overwhelmed, anxious, or even intimidated by the new environment.
Answer any questions warmly, no matter how trivial they may seem, and always prioritise the needs of your class, as individuals.
4. Provide scalable options and progressions
One of the main challenges of teaching a yoga class is learning how to balance the different levels of skill and flexibility. Even in a beginner’s class, the ability varies dramatically. Some are naturally flexible, but not very strong. Others may be strong, but find it difficult to touch their own toes.
Try to assess the ability of your individual students as early as possible, and provide suitable scaling options and progressions when required. Make it clear to the class that these are acceptable and worthwhile, so they don’t feel inferior if they can’t manage the prescribed pose. This will encourage your students to work at the appropriate level, which will accelerate the learning process.
5. Give your students homework
Your students’ learning shouldn’t end when the class does. Each week, set a small task for your class to take away with them. This could be a practical task, such as a stretch to prepare them for next week’s planned activities, or a spiritual task, to help them connect with the wider aspects of yoga practice. Either way, encourage them to come to the next class with more knowledge and understanding than they leave you with.
Written by The Yoga People