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The Art of Teaching Yoga

Asthanga, Vinyasa, Iyenger, Kundalini – whatever style of yoga you are attracted to, there are an increasing number of teachers to choose from in each discipline.  We all have a favourite yoga teacher, so what is it that makes a good yoga teacher great?  Radiant Yoga Marbella has the following advice.

We all remember the school teachers that inspired us – the ones that brought the subject to life and sparked a lifelong passion in us to pursue a particular course of study or career path… Well the dynamic is exactly the same with yoga teachers. While some may be more experienced and more proficient physically than others, it will be the overall energy of the teacher and how they guide you through your yoga practice that will cause you to favour one over another.

With an estimated 200 million people practicing yoga worldwide, good yoga teachers should not be short of students.  Turn this around, and it would also be true to say that good yoga teachers in all the different types of yoga also abound – giving students the opportunity to seek out the teachers that most inspire them and lift them to higher yoga ground.

How to Become an Awesome Yoga Teacher

For those teachers or aspiring teachers tuning in to this, when it comes to the qualities that make a good yoga teacher great, where do you start?

Firstly, you need to assess your skill set, and get to know your strengths and weaknesses.

Here are the fundamental elements you will need to manage to lead a yoga class.

- Knowledge – your core understanding of the yoga asanas and their benefits.

- Leadership – the ability to skillfully guide the students through their practice.

- Sequencing – the skill of putting together a harmonious sequence of yoga postures.

- Alignment & correction – perfecting your system to correct students positioning for safety and efficiency.

- Yoga philosophy – Getting deeper into the background, meaning and value of yoga on the body, mind and spirit.

- Anatomy – understanding the human body and how it reacts and is affected by yoga – particularly for students with injuries.

How good is your knowledge of yoga philosophy?  Can you quote any of the gurus or incorporate yoga teachings into your classes?  And how about your correction skills? Do you communicate the instructions effectively?  Think about where you are at, and what you need to work on to bring all of these skills together seamlessly in the studio.

The Mood of the Class

Your students will most definitely respond to the mood of the class. The room itself, the music you play, the intro, how spiritual is the class. Is it deep, or more purely physical? Some yoga instruction is more fitness oriented, while others set the agenda for spiritual awakening. Do you introduce a dedication or an intention at the beginning of the class, and review at the end?

A great teacher will aim for students to not only feel good physically, but mentally and spiritually too.

Make sure you are connecting with your students – listening to them before and after class to find out what they want – and developing a bond.

Here are 4 Things your students may want to suggest by way of improvement:

1. Do adjustments – it makes the students feel cared for – but not too exaggerated.

2.  Don’t draw too much attention to beginners.  Give them demos and verbal instructions.

3. Give Western names for poses – not just Sanskrit – and explain the benefits.

4. Mix it up a little!  Don’t always do the same sequence of asanas – and transition from one posture to a different one… not always the same.

And finally, from the dailycupofyoga.com here are 5 tips to make you a great yoga teacher:

1. Grounded presence – connect to something bigger than yourself and bring that power into the class.

2.  A watchful eye – make sure to be aware of every one of your students.

3. A kind heart – let your warmth and caring come over in class.

4. Lightness of spirit – make sure the class is enjoyable and has an element of fun or playfulness.

5. Intellectual authority  – demonstrate your knowledge and experience naturally.

Up, Close and Personal

As yoga is all about a personal journey, getting to know yourself, your body and your inner world, the character and yoga practice of the yoga teacher make a big difference to students – and will shine through your teaching.  Both are as important as technical skill.  Your classes should be a reflection of your own yoga journey.

What matters most is being passionate – having good energy and sharing what you know with others…. It’s about knowledge, authenticity and being of service.

Patience/Dedication & Love for your Practice

As Wanderlust.com states, good yoga teachers empower their students – to believe in themselves, to stretch their capabilities, to surrender to the body, to push the boundaries, but to be gentle with themselves and accept where they are.

The relationship between the yoga teacher and the students is an exchange of energy – from one kindred spirit to another…

Will the rest of the students’ day be better, different, improved because of their yoga class? The purpose of yoga is union with the higher self – so leading students towards this can be life changing.

Working with your energy

One of the key elements that can make a good yoga teacher great is the energy they bring to the room; focused, calm, centred, enthusiastic.

Getting centred and meditating before the class starts is a great way to connect with your essence and your energy.  Similarly, a connection to the inner sacredness of the asanas – gives teachers the power to teach with joy.

Finding Your Voice

The tone and tempo of the yoga teacher’s voice adds a lot to the flow of the class.

Are you talking just enough, or not too much? The tone can help students relax or not, in Savasana.

The Ultimate Qualities

According to Mindbodygreen.com, the following is the ultimate list of qualities of a great yoga teacher

- Presence – You can sense it when a great yogi walks in the room

- Physical Skills – sometimes there is no better way than to lead by example

 You can’t do all the asanas perfectly, but when you have lived and breathed them – you can teach more authentically.

- Versatility – the ability to adapt the class to the students in every session.

- Personalization – every great yoga teacher introduces signature elements into their class – such as positive affirmations, meditations, or a particular closing sequence.

- Feeling the Room – being able to connect with each person and make them feel at ease. A great yoga teacher exercises a kind of sixth sense.

- Fun  – A lightness of spirit enhances the practice of yoga.

- Music – capturing the mood, bringing out emotion

- Language – the pace, the tone, the choice of words

- Meditation in every class – to add a spiritual focus.

Remember, Be Yourself

Tara Stiles urges yoga teachers to “Be part of the experience. Experience it, breathe it, and you will be energized.” She states, “People will respond to how you are – more than what you say, so make sure you take care of yourself.   This is true in life – not just yoga”.  Tara Stiles

Finally, let go of the need to please everyone – not all students will resonate with your style… Be yourself.  Nobody can do it better.

Radiant Yoga Marbella offers a variety of yoga classes in our Marbella studio including Hot Yoga (similar to Bikram, but with more varied sequencing), Pranayama YogaVinyasa Yoga, Vinyasa Flow Yoga, Anasura Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, Pilates and Kids’ Yoga.

Please keep an eye on our Facebook page where you’ll find up-to-date information about our classes, workshops and other yoga information.  Blog: by Louise Cook Edwards.

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