By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500, YACEP
How important are communication skills? Here is an oxymoron for you: Some of the best Yoga teachers are great listeners. This is a general guideline for students who aspire to teach Yoga some day. Listening skills, in Yoga, start when you take your first class, as you learn by hearing, watching, and doing.
The Yoga student who learns predominantly by listening will be able to verbally communicate the finer techniques to others in the future. This is not to say that other methods of learning have less value, but a skilled Yoga teacher must be a communicator and be able to reach into each individual student’s mind.
Therefore, not all Yoga students can learn from you in the same way. Some will learn by listening carefully to your cues, others will gain more from an assist, and some will be able to copy just by watching. As a Yoga instructor, you still have to be a good listener when it comes to all of your students’ questions.
Most Yoga teachers do a good job with handling student questions. However, here is something to think about: Do you try to clarify why a question is being asked? Consider that your student may not be clear in his or her communication skills and you need to “get to the heart of the matter.”
The motivation behind a question is more important than the question itself. You don’t want to waste your time giving unrelated information before, after, or during a Yoga class. So, get a clarification about what you are being asked, and learn why your student is truly asking you this question. This will benefit the both of you and avoid wasting your student’s time, as well.
If a student asks you a simple question, with a “yes” or “no” answer, you can still find out the motivational source by saying, “Yes, but why do you ask?” This technique is really that simple, and you may find the question is much deeper than you originally perceived.
Another mistake some teachers make is handling a question defensively. Your student thinks enough of you to ask for your opinion and is interested in your answer. If he or she had no respect for you, your opinion would not be important. Now, whether you perceive an objection or not, you should ask for a clarification before answering.
There is a positive side to all of the questions your students ask, but you must clearly see the motive behind the question in order to give the best answer. The bottom line is: Even though you are now at the front of the class, your listening skills must be better than your best listeners in your class; in this way you will master your communication skills.
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