By Faye Martins
What makes the optimum Yoga teaching style? Teaching Yoga requires knowledge and awareness about the practice, including the principles behind it and how it has evolved. Yoga is many things to many people. It is a form of exercise, a way of life and a way to help people enhance their lives and bodies. Yoga provides a sense of calm for some people and offers a way to stay in shape for others. The optimum Yoga teaching style is often a mixture of many different influences joining together in order to provide knowledge and awareness for both teacher and student.
Many practitioners of Yoga find their practice tends to change and grow over time. Some people that practice on a regular basis find themselves doing the same routine; others like to change it up. A Yoga teacher’s style must always seem natural and should be an extension of his or herself. If not, the teacher can risk alienating students. It is important to be able to dispense advice and lead the class without seeming condescending. If you are teaching a gentle flow class, care should be taken to make sure your instructions and guidance are strong yet relaxing.
Students that are taking a more physical type of Yoga class also seem to respond to strong yet encouraging guidance as you lead them through the poses. Many students like to be told the names of the poses and the areas of the body those poses affect. Of course, there is also plenty of time for silence as poses are being held. Your style should reflect your knowledge but at the same time must be flexible enough to handle the unique challenges that some students will represent. A Yoga teacher should be able to encourage his or her students to go places (mentally, physically or emotionally) that they might not otherwise get to – all without seeming harsh or over the top.
The practice of Yoga entails much more than knowing how to execute poses and direct students on proper breathing techniques and body placement. Knowledgeable yoga teachers are aware that learning is a journey that is truly never ending. Finding the optimum Yoga teaching style can be accomplished by gathering knowledge through practice and then sharing that knowledge and awareness with others around you in a relatable manner.
Over the years, I have met many different instructors who reflected nothing more than the initial indoctrination of their guru or a specific type of yoga teacher training. Some people call these teachers parrots or clones. They don’t do diligent independent research and they refuse to look outside the dogma of their leader. The optimum Yoga teaching style is think and solve problems based on reliable research and common sense. There has to be a logical reason why one technique works and another one doesn’t.
Food for Thought
If a guru taught you to lock the knee in a balancing pose, openly accept people on high blood pressure medication into a hot Yoga class, and to ridicule students who have difficulty with learning yogic principles; you should do some research before teaching one more class. If a yoga teacher doesn’t see the dangers of the above-mentioned scenarios, he or she should enroll in a continuing education course for anatomy or common sense. All Yoga teachers are obligated to be kind, safe, and learn for life.
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