Teaching Hatha Yoga: Designing a Lesson Plan – Part 2

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Teaching Hatha Yoga: Designing a Lesson Plan – Part 2

yoga certificationBy Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

In some Yoga teacher training intensives, conversations about whether a class should start from a standing position or seated has always been a subject for debate.  Both methods are fine and many  teachers do both, depending on the particular lesson plan.  One part that should not be missing from your lesson plan is a warm-up with proper exercises, which will slowly warm up joints, connective tissue, and muscle tissue. Some teachers might feel that advanced practitioners do not need to do a detailed warm-up, and I totally disagree with this philosophy.

Consider this: Professional athletes, who practice and train, almost every day, are always instructed to perform warm-up exercises. This is very cautious; but with professional athletes, thousands, or millions, of dollars could be on the line.

Yoga students do not usually have such “high stakes” involved within the physical performance of their jobs, but each student should be taught with safety guidelines intact. This is why I feel so strongly about the value of a warm-up at the beginning of a class: It’s just common sense to take care of your students.

Should you start or finish a Hatha Yoga class with meditation? Some Yoga instructors guide students through meditation at the beginning and the end of the same class, while some teach meditation only after asana practice.

Unfortunately, a comparatively small number of Yogic exercise teachers do not include meditation at all. This happens when a class is converted into a “fitness only” atmosphere. In truth, this is a teacher’s prerogative and some health clubs may not want meditation in their classes.

When you are teaching Hatha Yoga, you are teaching mental, physical, emotional, and sometimes, spiritual health. Meditation addresses a very valuable health component because exercise alone is not a guarantee of good mental health. Hence, if you are teaching any style, you should, at least, be teaching the basics of meditation as part of your classes.

How should you incorporate pranayama within your class? With beginners, you should cover at least three pranayama techniques that you commonly use during the course of a class. If you make pranayama an extra curricular part of the class, you may find some beginners will try to avoid that particular time slot or class. Instructors want their classes to remain popular. Many Yoga teachers have become accustomed to full classes; and it was not that long ago, when we taught to small dedicated groups of students. Therefore, we want to maintain popularity, but any component of Yogic methodology can become unpopular.

This creates a delicate line for full-time teachers to walk. You know the benefits of long-term Yoga training, but beginners have to stay long enough to “feel the results.” This is much different from exercise, where a practitioner might see visual results in a month or two. The many health benefits of a well-prepared class require time. Yoga instructors must use public relations skills along the way for students to see the “big picture.”

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