By Sanjeev Patel, CYT 500
What is the key factor in creating a safe Yoga class lesson plan? Sometimes the opening of a Yoga class is very much like a brief blip on a radar screen. Some Yoga teachers are in a big rush to get going with the class, but where are they going to? As a Yoga teacher, you must have an intention to make your class the best and safest experience your students ever encounter.
Based upon student feedback from over 650 classes, which I have already instructed up to this point in time, I have come to realize that it is the physical and relaxing aspects of Yoga that most appeal to westerners. With that in mind, among the many steps which I would suggest teachers incorporate into a Yoga class would include an initial period of relaxation.
Here you could introduce diaphragmatic breathing and invite students to continue, throughout the practice, inhabit their bodies, practice present moment breath awareness, and maintain a mind-body connection, while using their breath as the vehicle for this connection.
You would then lead them through a series of limbering and warming up postures, however I may not use all of the same warm ups suggested by a typical Hatha Yoga teacher training program, since I have found that most students prefer more active postures even for limbering up and warm up.
I did find my foundational teacher training at Aura Wellness Center to be useful in regard to warm ups very effective for a beginner’s class as long as modifications are included for those students that are stiff, out of shape or older. Since the classes that I am instructing at the present moment are all levels classes at local health clubs and morning classes at the beach, I have found that modifications, which also make the postures more possible or more challenging, make the classes themselves more interesting, engaging and appealing to a wider range of students.
I have yet to introduce beginners to any of the muscle controls or bandhas into any of the classes. Although I do practice bandhas myself, teach advanced students the same techniques and find them complimentary to the postures to match their practice; I also include a few basic balancing postures in all of the classes that I instruct.
In general we start with the centering, setting an intention, and relaxation (Yes, relaxation). After that we move on to warm ups, then sun salutations, and limber ups. This is followed by all body stretches, standing poses which would include forward bends and minor back bends and some minor twists, sitting poses which would also include forward bends, deeper back bends and deeper twists, kneeling poses, and basic inversions.
To rush through the beginning of a class shows our students the opening of class is worthless. It also gives students the idea that we are similar to impatient guides on a mountain climbing expedition. If we push them to the summit, those who survive think: “Is that all there is?” If that is the mindset we want to create, we will never show them peace of mind and we will injure a few along the way. Unsafe classes should not be called Yoga at all and need an honest sign in the door way, which states, “Enter at your own risk.”
© Copyright 2010 – Sanjeev Patel / Aura Publications
Sanjeev Patel is a certified Yoga teacher and an exclusive author for Aura Wellness Center.
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