If you practice Yoga regularly, when you think of doing Yoga you probably envision practicing in a subtly lite studio, which is adorned with some well-placed statues and graced with bouquets of fresh flowers. This image may resonate with accuracy and provoke a sense of relaxed equipoise. On the other hand, if you are new to the practice of Yoga, or if you are an experienced practitioner but you are contending with some physical challenges or emotional issues, walking into the same subtly lite studio may provoke feelings of intimidation, anxiety, dread, and even fear in some cases.
As a Yoga instructor, one of the primary goals of teaching a challenging, invigorating and simultaneously relaxing Yoga class is to create a safe space for the practice to unfold naturally for all of your students. Some of your students may already have a strong practice established and be very comfortable performing a whole range of asanas and pranayama exercises in the context of a structured class. Other students may be brand new to the practice, or they may be apprehensive of practicing in a group context for any number of reasons.
Some of the reasons that a student may feel apprehension, anxiety or fear at the thought of practicing Yoga postures in a group context may entail issues around body image, dexterity, physical injuries or a fragile emotional state. If you are a regular Yoga practitioner or teacher, you are aware of the deeply transformative effect of a regular practice of asanas and pranayama exercises. A great deal of the transformative effect of Yoga is that it exposes our underlying physical and emotional weaknesses and, in doing so, gives us the opportunity to address our weaknesses and transform them into areas of strength.
However, if you are teaching a student who is new to the practice of Yoga, the student may feel quite intimidated about trying to flow through a series of Sun Salutations and standing postures. This feeling of intimidation may be especially poignant if he or she is unfamiliar with the postures. Additionally, if a new student is overweight and has a limited amount of strength and flexibility, even attempting to perform beginning Yoga postures can feel demoralizing and provoke anxiety.
The first step to addressing fear in a Yoga class is to become aware of and tuned into any of your students who may need additional support to be comfortable in class. Through the process of meeting and talking with each one of your students, you will be able initially pinpoint the students who are prone to injury and/or who may need to practice modified and supported postures, until they are ready to engage in more traditional series of postures. Maintaining a sense of humor and warmth is also important when your are teaching Yoga. This levity and embracing compassion will help to put your “special consideration” students at ease.
Do be aware that it may not only be your new Yoga students who need some extra care and attention. At times, even experienced students may need some extra guidance and a watchful eye during class if they are recovering from an injury or a surgical procedure. In fact, it may be particularly hard for an experienced student to ask you for specialized modifications or props, in order to practice familiar Yoga postures safely, while they are recovering from an injury or surgery. As we all flow through the ups and downs of our lives, many of us often feel emotionally and physically fragile and vulnerable during the more challenging times in our lives.
The same is true of your Yoga students, of course! An excellent way to foster communication with your students is to have each new student fill out a health questionnaire prior to taking Yoga classes with you and to update it on a periodic basis. This will facilitate a more intimate level of knowledge of each student’s physical and mental health concerns and challenges By tuning into the ebb and flow of your students’ lives, as much as possible, you will be able to offer appropriate guidance and modifications, when needed, in order to truly facilitate your students’ growth, healing and over all well-being.
Virginia Iversen, M.Ed, has been practicing and studying the art of Yoga for over twenty years. She lives in Woodstock, New York; where she specializes in writing customized, search engine-optimized articles that are 100% unique. She is currently accepting Yoga and health-related writing orders and may be contacted at: [email protected].
© Copyright – Virginia Iversen / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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