How To Teach Yoga

While yoga is celebrated for its calming nature and physical health benefits, it’s more than just exercise and stillness of mind; it’s a way of life.

This means that to teach yoga well, you have to be truly dedicated to the cause and live your life in accordance with the “limbs” of the yogi philosophy.

How To Teach Yoga

As an instructor, you won’t just be guiding people through pose sequences, you’ll be guiding them through life, which is a great responsibility.

Many students will be relying on your yogic wisdom to help them navigate ideals of the self and the world around them, to transport them from their current state to an elevated one, which isn’t easy to do.

Granted, you’ll learn a lot during the certification process, but teaching isn’t just about expertise.

It’s about communication, empathy, experience, and most of all, love. It’s a lot to consider, we know, so today, we’ll be running through some key pointers on how to teach yoga.

Exhibiting Balance

Whether you’re a teacher of yoga, math, guitar… anything, your students look to you for consistency.

They rely on your stability and balance, not just so that they may mimic it until it befalls them naturally, but because it legitimizes the lessons they’re learning.

Maintaining spiritual, physical, and emotional balance on and off the mat is absolutely crucial to the learning experience of your pupils. Your positivity will be infectious, as will your serenity.

You’ll be suspended in a sensitive and patient state that helps to form deep connections with those who attend your classes and even those who don’t.

A centered disposition is also a more approachable disposition, and approachability is a prerequisite of teaching, as students need to feel comfortable enough in your presence to ask questions and engage in the learning process.

Now, this isn’t to say that you have to be completely enlightened to be a good yoga teacher. We’re all human and we all have our blips.

But you are totemic of yoga in your student’s eyes, and it falls on you to apply your teachings to your own life in order to better help them in theirs.

Patience Is Everything

One of the most crucial aspects of pedagogy is patience. It’s all too easy to feel irritated when someone is struggling to pick something up, especially if it came very easy to you during your own learning, but only infinite patience will help them along.

Most of your pupils are going to be complete novices, at least for a while.

When they show up, they bring a lot of fear and trepidation with them, and it’s up to you to gently buff away these misgivings, and you’ll do so with your kind and patient nature.

Remember, the practice of yoga is a journey, and journeys take time.

Everyone in your class should be made to feel comfortable and confident in their ability to progress under your tutelage. It’s okay to encourage your students, but anything forceful is strictly out of the question.

Demonstrate & Explain

Clear delivery of your class is paramount. Students don’t want to simply watch you silently acting out a sequence of poses.

They want an explanation of what they’re doing, why they’re doing it, and how it can be done.

You’ll need to instruct them on breathing techniques and rhythms, about the anatomical elements of each pose and the sequences as a whole, and the spiritual message behind the movements. 

You should even share some of your experiences if they’re at all relevant to the theme at hand, thus creating a more personable and intimate class culture.

In short, you must always, always be present whilst teaching, engaging with your students as much as you can, addressing their needs, and helping them to refine their form and understanding of yoga.

Impart The Art Of Breathing

Work On Your Communication

Research has shown that controlled breathing can have a seismic impact on our lives, but the ancient yogis knew this from the very start.

Conscious breathing, otherwise known as Pranayama, is the most important aspect of any yoga practice, but it takes some time to teach.

Focused on the physical side of yoga, students will lose track of their breathing constantly, and it’s up to you to get them back into respiratory alignment, thus awakening a deep, inner focus that merges their external physicality with the serenity within.

Pranayama should be encouraged throughout your class whether you’re leading some pose sequences or guiding your students through meditation.

The ultimate goal is to have them employ controlled, conscious breathing beyond the confines of the class, which will improve their quality of life significantly.

Work On Your Communication

Communication is everything in teaching, as what is teaching other than specified communication? It is impossible to become a great teacher without first becoming a great communicator.

Consider your tone, the volume of your voice, the cadence of your sentences, the clarity of your enunciation and syntax.

Think about how you’ll address your class, not just during the lesson but at the start and towards the end, about how you’ll interact with them one-on-one if they need assistance.

Communication skills don’t always come naturally, so this is something that you may well have to practice in order to get right, possibly even for years.

Commit To Your Own Practice

Remember earlier when we mentioned that you are totemic in the eyes of your students? Well, it’s true.

You are their portal to betterment, a manifestation of the benefits of the yoga lifestyle, and if you are seen as inauthentic or unchanged, they will not see the merits of staying the yogi path.

Investing in your own yoga practice is a fundamental element in the trust-building process unraveling between yourself and your students. Your own dedication to yoga is what is going to take you from a so-so teacher to a total life-changer.

Tailor Your Class To Your Students

Too many teachers have an overly rigid approach, which is a problem for an open, welcoming pursuit such as yoga.

Literally anyone can walk through the door – pregnant women, people recovering from specific injuries, differently abled individuals – and it’s your job to ensure that they can all extract value from your lesson.

It’s a juggling act at times, but if you’re considerate and imaginative while designing classes, you’ll be able to keep everyone happy.

Final Thoughts

Teaching yoga isn’t as easy as many people think. It requires a great many different synergistic skills employed with intent but with seamless naturalness.

Ironically, being a great teacher isn’t something that can be taught; it’s something that you must figure out yourself over time, but armed with the pointers discussed here today, you’re closer than ever to your goal.

Laura Simmons
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