motivating studentsBy Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

What is the key to motivating students? Teaching Yoga, and maintaining student interest, is an art form. Although the benefits of Yogic practices are indisputable, it is not unusual for students to become discouraged, or bored, every now and then. Whether progress has reached a plateau, or personal problems make getting to class more difficult, it sometimes becomes difficult to maintain one’s level of motivation. With a little persistence, and the help of a well-trained instructor, the problem is usually short lived and easily remedied. There are, however, a few things for both Yoga teachers and students to consider when the doldrums strike.

Ten Characteristics of Classes that Motivate Students

• Participants understand the general concepts of Yogic methodology and know how the class operates.  Introductory handouts and guidelines are useful to new students and the few who gladly bring disorder wherever they go.

• There is a balance of activities, including the following: postures that tone the muscles and keep them flexible, exercises that support cardio-respiratory health, poses that strengthen muscles and massage organs, breathing techniques, meditation, relaxation, and other aspects of Yogic methodology.

• Students feel inspired and encouraged. Yoga practice becomes a respite. There is a tremendous amount of turmoil in people’s lives.  Yoga studios and classes serve the public as sanctuaries from stress and anxiety. Therefore, motivating students should be a priority for every teacher.

• Activities are appropriate for the abilities and physical conditions of everyone in the class. Getting hurt, due to forcing a technique, or becoming frustrated when poses are too difficult, dampens the spirit of the most dedicated souls.

• New students, or those with challenges, should never feel singled out, ridiculed, or judged. A certified Yoga teacher should know how to modify any technique. If a Yoga instructor does not know how to assist and modify, continuing education, in the form of onsite intensives, workshops, or online Yoga teacher training are viable solutions.

• Appropriate music and relaxing ambience can make Yoga practice pleasant and relaxing.

• Yoga techniques flow smoothly and directions are clear.

• Guided meditation and visualization techniques keep students looking forward to the next session.

• Yoga instructors are aware of all individual limitations, while maintaining safety standards and proper supervision during class.

• The teacher radiates confidence and inspiration.

Five  Tips to Restore Student Motivation

• Set a realistic intention before every class.

• Get plenty of sleep.

• Eat a healthy diet.

• Do not expect perfection or make comparisons.

• Take time for activities that open your heart and mind.


Not everyone learns in the same way, and what motivates one person is different from what motivates another. With well organized sessions, and mutual respect between students and teachers, practice can be an incentive, rather than an obligation. If motivating students makes them feel better, and they gain a sense of achievement, they are far more likely to maintain their passion for learning Yogic methods.

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