By Faye Martins
How to open a Yoga class is a unique craft, but it is not that complicated. Yoga students need to unplug from the world around them first. The Yoga teacher is a guide on the path to inner peace and the opening is the first step on this path.
The practice of Yoga is often used to enhance the mind-body connection. It can help to aid in relaxation and getting in touch with your inner self. Just as there are numerous reasons people practice Yoga, there are a number of different ways to open a class. The opening of the class sets the tone for both the students and the teacher. Different classes often require very different openings. For example, a teacher might choose to open a Hatha class very differently than a Power or Hot Yoga class.
Opening a Hatha class will usually entail students sitting on the ground in a comfortable position. A teacher might start with some quiet meditation, then give some gentle advice to students about paying attention to their breathing. Proper instruction on inhalation and exhalation and how it benefits the student throughout their practice of Yoga is a great way to set the tone for the class. Chanting can also be introduced at this point, as mantras can be a great way for students to focus. Some teachers open the class with the students lying down, as that is conducive to the relaxation process.
Teachers of a Power Yoga class might open the class very differently. They will also focus on breathing techniques, but will usually not introduce chanting. Power Yoga classes can also start with the students in the seated position, but they can also start with the students standing up. As this style is generally more physically demanding than the gentler types of Yoga, the focus is more on the physicality rather than the emotions as the class progresses through the poses.
The most importance aspects of teaching and opening a class are knowing how to set the tone and how to connect with the students. After all, the opening must inspire the students to fully immerse themselves in the practice of Yoga so that they get the most from the class. A strong opening offers guidance so the students know what to expect from the session. The focus of the mind is an integral aspect to Yoga and must be established very early. That’s why it is so important to teach proper breathing techniques at the very beginning, as it draws the student fully into the class and into the moment.
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