By Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500
When Yoga teachers gather in a workshop to hear a lecture about communication – what is the first topic that comes to mind? Is it cueing skills, voice inflection, or when to ask a student for permission to assist? Those are important issues for anyone who teaches, but let’s take a look at many more areas that could use some work.
Communication and Listening Skills
Communication is a two way street. How can we exchange ideas if students are made to feel “stupid” for asking questions? Granted, classes cannot operate like an open forum, if you have a lesson plan in mind, but a student who is experiencing pain should not have to feel bad for asking about it. Nor should he or she have to wait until the end of class to ask an impatient teacher about his or her pain. Some studios have guidelines, which clearly state that students should refrain from asking questions during class time. Did the person who put this rule in writing consider student safety or is this an ego-based rule intended to keep students in their place?
Listen Empathically: When a student asks a question directly related to practice during class time, the Yoga instructor present, should listen to all of the details. There are times when a student asks questions, which are on the mind of many more classmates. For some students, it takes a lot of courage to ask a question in a group setting. Some students ponder questions for days before asking them. Their heart rate may rise because it took courage to ask the question.
With all this said, listening is a primary communication skill. As a Yoga teacher, you are already respected by your students, so do not violate a trust by bolstering your ego. The key is to listen intently, because you may want a deeper explanation of the question, which will result in you giving a deeper answer to your student.
The Student’s Best Yoga Teacher
How can good communication develop optimum students? Who becomes a student’s best Yoga teacher during practice? His or her body, and mind, must eventually become the best teacher. If not, we have failed to give our students the gift of self-realization and problem solving. To go further: Our students must learn to think for themselves. If they are completely dependent on a Yoga teacher, all the time, then our teaching method is flawed. Two of the qualities we should have gained from Yoga teacher training are independent thinking and to be completely present for practice. We should also instill this in our students.
Why do I say this? If a student is not present for practice, we must make him or her gently aware of it. There is no need to make students dependent on us. Good students will always return to our classes. Yoga must still be practiced after our students have rolled up their mats. Proper breathing, walking, talking, eating, posturing, and acting with mindfulness, are the signs of a Yoga practitioner. All of the amazing physical feats are nice, but any flexible Pilates student, dancer, gymnast, or martial artist, could do the same. Our student’s lives should reflect the qualities we communicate to them during class time.
© Copyright 2007 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications
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