Teaching is a tradition that has been there since ages. The rishis and minis had established the system of Gurukul, which were supposed to be the place of learning. It is one of the most noble professions that one can be in. No matter, which subject you teach, it is more than just a class, or a period, or a subject. You can only get the respect that a teacher ought to get, if you teach according to the needs of your students, with affection and understanding. You may not get much information on the system of education, that the teachers in the older ages used to stick to. However, a few records from the Bhagwad Gita suggest that the method of teaching and learning included a lot of questioning, group work, and mutual respect in the class.
Most of the teaching that followed was oral or verbal in nature, so students had to work on their memory and focus. The students learned through personal contact and understanding. When you set out to teach a practical subject, like Yoga, you have to include lots of explanations, demonstrations, and practice, to get the students involved. Trial and error also go into teaching. Today, most people who teach, consider it only as a profession. But teaching yoga is entirely different. Here are a few cues that you need to keep in mind, while teaching yoga.
Teaching Yoga In The Best Manner
- Firstly, you need to observe properly. You have to understand the needs of your students. Only then, will you be able to suggest them the right variations of the difficult asanas. For easy ones, like the Sukhasana, Vrikshasana, or Tadasana, you can get your students to the asanas, as they are. Observation does not stop here. You have to observe the other teachers as well. If you are interning somewhere, you should also observe the senior teachers there. When your yoga teacher training is on, you will also get the chance to emulate the teachers. It is a part of the course.
- The second thing that you have to keep in mind, while teaching a yoga class, is to create a welcoming atmosphere in the classroom. You have to use your behaviour and language to do so. Once comfortable, the students can proceed in their own pace. You should not use difficult jargon, unless you are sure that your students understand the same. The students might also get intimidated if you use difficult words. Here are a few words, that you must avoid, or replace with better ones. Instead of saying ‘modification,’ you have to say ‘variations.’ Students will also do better, if you use the word, ‘relax’ instead of the word ‘stretch’. It is especially so with beginners, who might feel, that they have to do a lot of hard work, when you ask them to stretch.
- Every yoga school has its own set of rules and procedures, so it is most likely that you will learn practical skills that are unique from the rest. You can also emphasise the special practices, that your yoga teacher teaches you. Your ultimate aim is to attain the highest level of expertise, level of techniques, ability to suggest different alignments, and also make your students disciplined.
Teaching Asanas In The Yoga Class
When you are teaching asanas to a group of students, you should use the language that the students are comfortable in. Apart from the local language, you can also use English. When your students become comfortable with your language, cues, and instructions, you can teach them the Sanskrit words.
- After you have mentioned about an asana in front of the students, you have to explain the meaning of the asana.
- Also allow the students to visualize the asana. The demonstration stage is also important, wherein you do the asana in front of the students. Always try to show them the breathing modalities as well.
- Yoga is not just a fitness discipline, but a mental one as well. You can choose to give the demonstration by counting slowly, you can also give silent demonstration, and also do the practice, with the help of explanation.
- As a teacher, you should also lay stress on the contraindications and limitations of the asana. The benefits are also as important.
You will follow the above process, more or less for all the yogic practices, like asanas, Pranayama, bandhas, mudras, and kriyas.
There are some guidelines, that you need to follow as a teacher. Read about them below.
- It goes without saying, that personal space and distance are some of the parameters, that you may have to maintain both inside the class, or when you are practicing outside.
- Always ask before you touch anyone.
- Explain what you are doing, so that the incumbent is fully informed about the process.
- Do not allow the students to put excess pressure on the joints. When the student is doing deep stretches, you have to see to it, that the student is inhaling properly.
- You should never put any pressure on the spine. Relaxation is the second-best practice, after safety. If you can inculcate these qualities, then your teaching will be better than anyone else’s.
These are very important guidelines, that you have to remember as a yoga teacher. You cannot compromise on these. The method that you utilize in teaching yoga, is of primary importance today. You can become a very good yoga teacher, if you keep all this in mind. The realm of yoga is very expansive, so you must learn how to express yourself. It is more important for any yoga teacher, to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the students. Once you are able to do that, you will be able to master the art if teaching.
Yoga is an ancient subject, that needs a lot of attention to detail. So, you have to make sure, that you are able to do the best for your students, to maintain the teacher-student relationship, or the Gurukul relationship.