observing yoga studentsBy Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

Observing Yoga students during class time is a primary duty for instructors. Many students look in awe at their teachers, wondering at their strong, lithe, bodies. However, teaching Yoga involves a lot more than simply standing in front of a group and demonstrating poses. Effective teachers must provide a positive, yet relaxing, atmosphere. They must be able to answer any student concerns, and be knowledgeable about the benefits and potential risks of all techniques. Yoga instructors should constantly be scanning the class – checking for proper form, confusion, or misunderstandings, and providing necessary support to the students.

Observing your students requires the ability to multitask, because you must be able to demonstrate a pose or pranayama technique, while giving verbal cues, and looking closely at each student’s form. It takes a bit of practice to get it just right, and it also takes teaching experience. The more comfortable you become with yourself as an instructor, the easier it will be to observe your students. If you are a new Yoga teacher, who is still concentrating heavily to provide a good flow to the poses, remember all the verbal cues, and so on – it will be harder to focus on the students.

Guidelines For Observing Yoga Students

After much practice, observing will become more natural for Yoga teachers. Ideally, you should be able to demonstrate a technique, then glance at each and every student, to ensure they are performing it correctly. If a student needs assistance, first try to give a more specific verbal cue to correct it. If the student does not respond to your cues, or still is doing a technique incorrectly, you might walk over toward that student to offer assistance. Use a calm, quiet demeanor and voice. Ask the student for permission – if you intend to give a physical assist.  Avoid startling the student, or criticizing. Gently make the correction, by placing your hand on the body part that needs adjusting. Generally, the fix is quick and easy; only taking a brief moment. Avoid singling out any of your students or calling out a student’s name.

Remember that Yoga is an individualized activity, and sometimes student limitations call for a slightly different way to perform the pose. Instead of searching for perfection in your students, remind them to do what feels good and right for them. Each student has a unique body and no two bodies are exactly the same.  Correct those errors that could result in an injury, but learn to also let things go, instead of expecting all students to perform all postures without flaw.

As you gain teaching experience in your classes, you will become more comfortable with observation. You will learn some common mistakes people make on specific poses, and you will be able to prepare your students better. As long as you are aware of the importance of observation, and do it consciously throughout each class, observing Yoga students will improve as does the rest of your teaching.

© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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