By Amruta Kulkarni, CYT 250
Good yoga teaching encompasses a wide range of skills and knowledge. The best yoga teachers are often “naturals,” having an innate ability to reach students in a positive, uplifting manner. However, many important teaching skills and methods can be learned. The most successful teachers are constantly self-evaluating, observing peers, and continually striving to make themselves more effective. Observation in itself is somewhat of an art, with different methods appropriate for various situations. When evaluating other yoga instructors, it is important to focus the observation on a particular skill or method.
For beginning yoga instructors, it is beneficial to sit in on a class with a particularly experienced instructor to get a feeling for how he or she runs the class as a whole. During initial observations, it is okay not to have a specific goal in mind, but to just absorb the atmosphere, structure, and flow of the class.
Once new instructors find a mentor, or study another yoga teacher’s methods they admire, it is appropriate to observe a number of times. Determine one specific piece of the yoga class to carefully observe, and take notes as necessary. Perhaps you might focus on the flow of the postures, noting the order of the poses and how they flow into each other. Observe the yoga instructor’s interaction with the students. How does he or she welcome the yoga students, explain postures, note possible modifications, or give cues throughout class? Stay focused on the determined area of observation, while noting any questions that come up during class.
After observing, it is important to talk to the yoga instructor about what you observed. Perhaps he or she can give you some more specific information about the particular teaching methods used, or you can discuss any specific situations that arose during class and how they were handled. Do not be afraid to ask any and all questions that came up for you during class. If a yoga teacher has no time to answer questions, do you really want to learn from him or her?
Take some time after observations to journal about what you saw, noting the methods that you can see yourself using in your own future yoga classes. Personal reflection is important as you begin a yoga teaching career, and should be implemented throughout, as you grow and learn through teaching.
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