how to teach yogaBy Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

One of the most common perceptions, among interns in Yoga teacher training programs, is that they should clone their lesson plans to become identical to their Guru. It is true that some gurus, and Yoga masters, want specific sequences of Yogic techniques taught during the internship. However, very few master teachers want their students to mimic them for life.

Once the foundation of how to create a Yoga class lesson plan is mastered, most gurus are happy to see new teachers become innovators. Once a young bird has spread its wings, the bird’s parents encourage it to fly. The same is true for a new Yoga teacher. Does this mean that creativity in new Yoga teachers will be flawless?

Life is all about learning from mistakes. When we make an error, and correct it, we usually never forget it. The questions about life are answered by learning from our experiences. Gurus can give you guidelines, advice, and friendship, but they cannot give you practical experience in the field.

Designing a lesson plan is an experience which develops a Yoga instructor from within. To see a lesson plan, as the best sequence for all students, is a one dimensional thought. When you consider the age and health condition of each student, who enters your class, there is no limit to the number of possible modifications that can be made in one session.

Let’s consider the legacy of Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, who is considered by many to be the best Hatha Yoga teacher of the 20th century. Looking at the accomplishments of his students, and the variety of styles produced, Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya encouraged creativity in his students.

K. Pattabhi Jois, B.K.S. Iyengar, Srivatsa Ramaswami, Indra Devi, A.G. Mohan, and Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya’s sons – T.K.V. Desikachar, T.K. Srinivasan, and T.K. Sribhashyam, are among his many successful students.  With that said – new Yoga teachers should be encouraged to find their creative path in planning classes.

Yoga is much like music – there is so much variety, and there is always room for new innovators. Once the foundation of teaching methodology is set, a new Yoga instructor learns by the practical applications and resulting experience. The bodies and minds of students are infinitely different.

If we look objectively at the therapeutic application of Yoga, there is no end to the possibilities. To expect to copy one lesson plan, as the ultimate Yoga training session, is limited thinking.

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