Designing and Teaching a Flow Yoga Class

///Designing and Teaching a Flow Yoga Class

Designing and Teaching a Flow Yoga Class

yoga teacher trainingBy Sangeetha Saran

There are many forms of flow Yoga teacher training courses and classes taught to the public.  Classes may have names like: flow, flowing, vinyasa and power Yoga. Some of the classes are gentle, while others can be extremely physical and challenging.  If you’re thinking about designing a flowing Yoga class, or are in the middle of trying to design one, you aren’t alone. There are hundreds of ways to run Yoga classes. How you actually design your class should cater to the needs of your individual students. If your students are at an experienced level of physical Yoga, then you should make the class fit their needs, give some them challenges, and sometimes speed the pace up a little bit more.

If your students are at an intermediate level, you will need to design your class around students who may not be as strong or flexible to perform the asanas as quickly as your experienced students will. Don’t be afraid to take the time out to help a student who doesn’t know how to safely move from one posture to the next.

How long should your class be? Usually, a Yoga class will last for one to two hours.  Health club classes rarely last more than one hour because the fitness centers have tight schedules for all of their classes. If it is an intermediate class, it might be better to move it closer to 45 minutes. If it is an individual class (private lesson), with just one person, it should be an hour.

How much material should you plan? Always plan more material than you are going to cover – and expect to cover less.  Never feel guilty that you didn’t cover all the material you planned.  Paulji once said. “Most Yoga instructors intend to give more than they can. There is nothing wrong with giving all you can, but in reality all of us have limits.”  Time places limits on everything.  If we have more to teach today, we can save it for the next Yoga training session tomorrow.

If one student is stuck on a routine, you may need to move on, or take longer, with the one particular student, depending upon the level of the class.  If a student is having difficulty because of the pace, it is wise to slow that student down to a safer pace, by holding his or her posture while other students keep going .  Have this student hold while four postures go by and then have him or her do the opposite side or a counter pose.

Be patient, compassionate, and never be frustrated.  Believe me – a student who has difficulty keeping up is feeling enough frustration for both of you.  You absolutely must be a living example of patience, if you teach Yoga.  You send messages to your students without saying a word.  Therefore, your body language and facial expressions should be extremely calm at all times.

Do not forget to schedule in a relaxation and pranayama session. Students should bring mats and a water bottle. Within the class, you should put in two to three short, five minute sessions for pranayama, relaxation, or meditation time. This is so that students can get a breath of fresh air and calm their minds.  Note: if you notice that someone isn’t looking well, then call for a break to give them a brief respite.

Start your class with a warm-up exercise. Start your class with something small so that they can move up to something bigger. Although flowing Yoga doesn’t start to get very exercise-involved until later, it still is, and should be treated like a regular workout routine.

Have several routines to follow. Be flexible. If one isn’t working, switch to another. Change up a routine, if possible, to make it easier.

Slow down during the last 15 minutes with a cool-down exercise of gentle pranayama and much slower motion. Stopping any exercise suddenly, even in movement based Yoga, is not a good idea.  End with a stage by stage relaxation exercise designed to calm your students.

Teacher Tips For Class Policy

As a Yoga instructor, it would be prudent to form guidelines for all classes and especially for movement based classes. Sometimes busy (type A personality) students want to get out of class early and some of them dislike relaxation techniques. If this describes the general student mindset in your class, consider telling them that if they all come on time, they can leave five minutes early.  

Do not do this all the time.  This is just an alternative method for a room full of new beginner students who have difficulty being unplugged from electronic devices.  Eventually, they will learn to be at peace with themselves.

Do not tell them it’s okay to skip relaxation because type A personalities need to realize that learning how to relax is good for their health.  In fact, type A personalities are prone to coronary heart disease because they are always tense, impatient, and often – impulsive.

You may want to design a handout for students to understand the benefits of Yoga and calming the mind.  You can also add guidelines for safe practice and ethical conduct of Yoga students.  It’s a shame to have to give adults written tips on how to behave, or to take a bath, but it has to be done.

Some students will not arrive on time. Lock the door after five or ten minutes of class has gone by to avoid problem people.  Generally, a person who walks in late is putting him or herself at risk of injury and disrupting the entire class. Having common sense and respect for others is a significant part of the art of Yoga.

Watch the behavior of your students carefully. Some will advance (mentally or physically) faster than others and some will not. Regardless of the skill level of your Yoga students, make sure they are all active and engaged.  This means: Be prepared to modify for student ability because they will not all be the same.

Conclusion

It is easy to design a Yoga class. Before you go through the class with your students, go through the class at least a few times by yourself, or with your friends.  If you can find your lesson plan fits into the class time frame, so it will be for your students.

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