Teaching Yoga In A Religious CenterBy Jenny Park

What are the challenges of teaching yoga with a religious center? Yoga has exploded onto the scene. As a result, classes are no longer relegated to a dedicated studio or an ashram. Gyms offer classes and most community centers have gotten in on the act – even some school districts invite yoga teachers to conduct classes, seminars, and workshops! That being said – teaching yoga in a religious center can sometimes be a little tricky; but it’s not impossible.

Approaching Religious Centers About Holding Yoga Classes

If the local church, temple, synagogue or mosque is the default community center in your area, why not hold a yoga class or workshop there?  Even though most Yoga teacher training courses tell you the jobs are in the studios, it’s time to open your eyes to unlimited possibilities.  When approaching the center about your idea, be sure establish, up-front, that your primary concern is respecting their belief system. In the initial meeting, ask questions about their faith and customs that signal you’re serious about making sure your class doesn’t cross any comfort lines. Once people understand your motives are health-related, you’ll find their guards will come down – and nine times out of ten they’ll welcome you into their fold with open arms.

Tips For Teaching Classes In A Religious Center 

Congratulations, you landed a class at your local religious center! Now you’ve got some homework to do. Before your first class, take time to sit down and seriously think about your typical class routine. Do you use a lot of Sanskrit while instructing? If so, consider toning it down, or dropping the ancient language all together, while you are in a religious facility. Many people with deep faith in various Abrahamic religions object to the use of esoteric – possibly religious – mantras in their presence and their place of worship.

Before your first class, do a little comparative religion research. If you’ll be teaching at a church, find a Bible passage that also speaks to yogic ideals. If you’re working at a synagogue or mosque, find translations of the Torah or Quran and do the same.

At the beginning of class, take a few moments to explain what yoga training is and be sure to concentrate on the physical benefits. Participants, who want to learn more, will come to you after class, so why not have some introductory hand-outs with you? And don’t forget, the material you distribute should be religion neutral.

Teaching yoga in a religious center can be a tremendously rewarding experience. Just remember to keep it simple and secular at all times, then everything will flow from there.

Good luck, and as always, Namaste.

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