What should I know about how to teach Yoga classesBy Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500, YACEP

“What should I know about how to teach Yoga classes?” Some interns say it out loud and many more think about the knowledge required before teaching.  After all, teaching Yoga isn’t easy, but any enthusiast with strong social skills should be able to teaching classes. The key is to educate yourself as fully as possible before you start the process. If you dive in without doing a bit of research, you’re bound to find yourself in over your head. By taking the time to study how to plan and execute the perfect class, you’ll become the type of Yoga instructor that students want to learn from.


Your Own Practice

Before you can start planning and executing amazing classes, you need to make sure your own technique is the best possible. Not only does having your own practice down make you a better teacher, but it will also make you more confident in front of the class. This self-assurance will make your students trust you.

How to Plan a Class

Running a yoga class isn’t something you can do while flying by the seat of your pants. A solid plan is necessary if you want the class to run smoothly. Here are some tips to keep in mind if you want to manage a well-sequenced and successful class. Some schools, or styles, train you to follow an exact sequence, which is fine, but might not help you with a class full of students that don’t physically fit into the demands of the lesson plan. So, templates are fine, but required modifications are usually not factored into the class.


Plan a Class With Well-Balanced Sequencing

If you are not teaching yet, you are asking, “What should I know about how to teach Yoga classes?” To be successful, a Yoga class must have a well-constructed sequence, which follows a standard template or a sequence that you created. All of our graduates learn how to design a sequence, give modifications, and produce a lesson plan that is well rounded. Forward, backward, left, right, and twisting movements are balanced throughout the asana practice. Some classes start with some pranayama, warm ups, meditation, relaxation or specific exercises for grounding.

There is room for creativity, and just like music, there are thousands of ways to teach a Yoga class. The average class closing consists of five to ten minutes of Savasana, so that the students can unwind and connect with themselves. However, some classes finish with meditation, Yoga Nidra, or pranayama. Additionally, some Vinyasa and Power Yoga instructors only teach Ujjayi pranayama and they might not include relaxation or meditation at all. There is no right or wrong here, but if students find your class to be “extreme,” they will love it or hate it, but they will never say your class is boring.

Write Down The Planned Sequence

I still write with a pen on paper, but you might want to enter your notes on a tablet or laptop.  Students will expect the instructor to move smoothly and easily from one step to the next. Nothing looks more out of place than stopping to think of what you’ll do next. With a cheat sheet in your pocket, you’ll be able to efficiently execute the class as planned. Try not to stare at your notes, while your students stare at you. Some teachers glance at them, when students are in a revolved or twisted position. The same rule goes for glancing at the clock.


Take Your Students Into Account

Not all Yoga students come to class with the same goals or levels of experience. When planning your classes, it’s important to have the students’ needs in mind. If you offer a beginner or mixed class that goes over the heads of beginners , they’ll only get frustrated. If, on the other hand, you devise a mixed level class with no challenges for experienced practitioners, they’ll feel like they’re wasting their time in your class.

How to Offer Instruction During a Class

Planning the perfect class is only half the battle. You also need to offer the type of fantastic instruction that will help students become better practitioners. The key is to give detailed explanations.  It will be easy to cover every detail, when you are demonstrating on your mat. As time goes by, you will be able to explain a technique in detail while you are walking around the room.

As a teacher, it’s easy to forget how complicated certain concepts can seem to beginners. What appears obvious to you might be unfathomable to someone who isn’t familiar with the basics of Yoga. Never assume that a quick description of an exercise or pose will be enough to get the idea across. Provide plenty of details and examples to make sure students of all experience levels are able to follow along.