By Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

Have you ever felt overwhelmed by students with a variety of ailments in the same class? Are you looking for student solutions to your class scheduling? Do you have time constraints? Let’s look at a question and answer session.

Q: Each student is unique, but what do you do with students of different physical abilities, within the same class? How do you handle one or more students with a pre-existing injury?

Sometimes, I feel overwhelmed by the variety of needs within a Yoga class. Really, I am in need of advice about too many special cases, within one yoga class. On top of this, there is an elite athlete in the corner who is bored all the time.

A: You are absolutely correct about each student being unique, but within a Yoga class each student deserves an equal amount of attention. As teachers, we know this is not always possible, but we should do our best to distribute our attention among our students equally.

About the differences among Yoga students: If you consider mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health, no two students are alike. Asana is a superficial measurement of progress in Hatha Yoga practice. A teacher should also be looking for subtle progress in each student.

For example: Is a student able to fully grasp Pranayama techniques? Is a student present for practice? Has a student been able to successfully meditate? Is a student able to transcend his or her practice beyond the mat?

In other words: Would you be proud of a student’s actions in real life. This is important, because each of your students is a representative of your teaching. If we praise physical feats, we should also praise good character, and the many good qualities, which Yoga practice gives us.

If you look only at the physical plane of existence, and address each student as if he, or she, were in an exercise class, you can still make it interesting for all levels. The less flexible students will need help with modifications or possibly need to use props.

This does not mean that props are for the less flexible students only, because physically gifted students can benefit from optimum alignment. There is always a way to challenge a physically gifted student without putting him, or her, at risk. In this case, it is also a matter of modification.

Lastly, only you know when you are overwhelmed by student needs or the number of students in your class. If you have more students than you can give proper attention to in one class, it is time to group them according to their needs.

© Copyright 2008 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications

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