By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500
Communication skills are an integral part of teaching Yoga. A Yoga teacher needs to be able to convey a body of knowledge and skills to his or her students in an effective manner. It is not enough to simply know the material inside and out, a teacher must be able to give the knowledge to the students in a useful way. When teaching Yoga, the instructor must be able to model the poses, describe them, and help the students execute them effectively. Communication lies at the heart of being able to teach others about Yoga.
Direct cues and comments are best while teaching in a Yoga session. Students are generally focused on the Yoga instructor only briefly, and then the focus changes to their own bodies. When we analyze a flowing asana practice, students must learn how to flow in and out of postures easily, while getting the benefits each pose offers. If a pose is new for the student, they will focus on the teacher to get proper form, but when students are comfortable with each pose, Yoga class becomes more personal and reflective for the individual.
Refining Your Communication Skills
Yoga teachers also need to approach students in a friendly, non-intimidating manner. Students should feel comfortable enough to ask questions, or ask for assistance throughout class. If the Yoga instructor presents him or herself as unapproachable, this may work for some students, but in the long run this tactic will most likely lose the respect of students who want to learn the deeper aspects of Yoga.
Body language plays an important role in communication. It includes eye contact, posture, gestures, and facial expressions. Yoga instructors should work to make eye contact with students when talking to them individually, as well as while addressing the entire class. Body gestures should remain open and inviting. Avoid crossing your arms, looking away, appearing agitated or distracted. Make your students feel welcome and valued during each Yoga class by smiling and keeping the atmosphere relaxed.
Verbal Communication Skills
Voice tone and volume are important for establishing a pleasant environment for practicing Yoga. Students generally expect the room to be quiet and calm, which lends itself to quiet voices. The instructor needs to make her or himself heard, of course, but do so in a voice that is not too loud or brash. Vary the tone of your voice when giving cues to provide a relaxing environment. Certain Yoga poses need more explanation than others, including postures you are introducing for the first time. Use a slightly louder voice when teaching students something new. Remember that silence is okay, too, and many people crave that about Yoga class. Do not feel as if you need to fill every second with advice, knowledge, or cues.
© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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