Teaching Hatha Yoga – Silent Observation and Student Abilities

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Teaching Hatha Yoga – Silent Observation and Student Abilities

yoga certificationBy Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

When teaching Yoga to new students, there are a variety of challenges for both teachers and students. Yoga can be a learning curve for a new student. At the same time, the methodology of teaching can be a challenge for a Yoga instructor. Below is a question and answer session, in relation to silent observation and student abilities, in a Yoga class.

Q: Many of my students are friends and people I know from work. I cannot seem to get through to my students that there should be a relatively quiet environment while practicing Yoga.

I still get laughs (a lot), when they do not understand a simple pose. Frequently, I hear: “How can you do that?” There are so many other comments that it is interruptive for others if they are in the room. Will this take some time to correct, and what can I possibly say to them without being offensive?

A: It is true that your students know you from two different settings, so it will be difficult for them to understand the highest value of silence. You could add this to your policies, but people don’t read them. I would add it for the few who do read.

The best way to cover silent observation is to mention it at the beginning of your class. Silent observation is a wonderful experience, and you could explain it much like a tour guide, before the class.

I never refuse questions during class time, due to safety issues. For example: What if a student is experiencing discomfort, or has a question, which is on everyone’s mind? No Yoga teacher should turn away an important question.

However, it is also important to let students know that silence is a gateway to self-observation. Through self-observation, we become present in our practice and reach higher states of self-realization.

How can we listen, if we are talking at the same time? The student, who talks all the time, learns the least about Yoga. This is a timeless problem for teachers of every subject or discipline.

Q: The majority of the people that I teach are very new to Yoga. They do not have a great range of motion and are extremely tense or rigid in that they are having a difficult time with the very simple Postures, let alone introducing them to the Sun Salutations or Vinyasa.

A: About students with limited physical abilities: A very slow Sun Salutation is a wonderful experience for students. Blocks, stools, and chairs make many modifications possible. Take your time with them, and try to find a pace that suits everyone.

Sometimes, it is good to go through the first round slowly and gradually pick up the pace. This can be tricky if you have a variety of abilities within the same class, but it can be done at a moderate pace.

© Copyright 2008 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications

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