When entering a Yoga studio, there are a few things which make a big difference teacher-student relationship. One of the most important things when it comes to human interaction is the predisposition you have towards others. Making contact with your students, with all these people who were able to make it to class today, who left things to do and decided to bring their energy and share it with you. Most of them don’t even realise that this is what they really come for until Savasana comes up. For that reason, it is extremely important to talk and encourage your students to do a good practice even though they might have had a not-so-good day.
What it makes a good Yoga practice is the attitude you put on every single movement.
Promote a quiet and peaceful beginning of the class with a meditation or relaxation. Kindly ask to those student who come a bit late to place the Yoga mat on the floor without interrupting the Yogi colleague.
Focus on the part that you have a body and be grateful for it. Feel your breath… feel your energy… feel who you are. Notice what happen to your mind on the out breath. Do you have any resistant to empty your lungs? Any resistant to let your breath go completely… observe the quality of your inhalation and exhalation. Concentrate in this few minutes in releasing the tension accumulated in the upper chest, ribs cavity and thorax, and let everything go… relax completely. Even the tiny muscles in your face are relaxed.
Recently, I was given amazing instructions by my Training teachers that I would like to share with all of you in this post. These 5 great instructions were given as part of an intense and mindfully developed program provided by the two tutors Jean Hall & Mimi Kuo-Deemer. The Art of teaching is the title.
“The following steps help to create a progression of instructions that creates clarity for teacher and student, and promotes a safe experience for the student. Be sure and construct each pose systematically from the foundation up… (this approach is referred to as “krama” or “wise progression”). Pausing to see how your students are doing so you can offer clearer instructions if necessary slog with modifications, adaptions and alternatives.
1. Finding the breath
The breath initiates and inspires every movement in the body. it is the essence not jet of the yoga practice but of life itself. It is the first thing we do when we enter this life. therefore focusing on the breath bring us back to ourselves and our core, it centres the mind, steadies and fuels the body in asana and helps create ease of transition into and out of asana.
2.Establishing the foundation
Whatever is on the ground can be considered the foundation of a posture- for example, in Virabhadrasana II, the foundation will be the feet; in downward facing dog, the foundation will be the hands and feet; in Marichasana III, the sitting bones, extended leg and the foot of the bent leg. think about any building as having a solid base and the principle that nothing solid is built in shaky foundation. this translates into the asana practice too. a strong foundation is created by a deep connection in to the earth ad includes the feeling of yielding to the ground, to find rebounding energy flowing up. Nature’s simplest example is that of a tree growing its roots deep to grow it branches tall.
3. Feeling & Emphasising the energy and integration of the spine and pelvis
The spine is our central axis of support within the body – it is the body’s central pathway of energy (the sushuma- the gracious channel – housing our nervous system ad energy centres- chakras). It begins in the pelvis and extends to the base of the skull. If parts of the spine are shortened and compressed, our energy will be as well. In all the postures, one needs to work with hoe to lengthen, strengthen, or integrate the spine in a healthy way. Structurally, the spine is a central reference point for all the movements in our body and, as it is the cord through which our central nervous system extends, it is the vehicle for creating balance and harmony into our nervous system & being.
4. Giving specific instructions
Focus on no more than two verbal alignment points and correct the most basic errors first. As the class progresses you can build on the initial alignment pint. For example, Virabhradrasana II, you could say “turn your back toes in slightly” and “externally rotate your front knee towards the second toe”. Then on the seconds side, you could repeat those and then add two more, such as “soften the shoulders” or “extend you back arm as equally as your front”
Reach into your bag of yoga teaching tools to enhance the experience. good suggestions cold be:
-visual aids, for example demonstrate a pose, mirroring students…etc
-physical touch through postural assists and adjustments
-use of props, offer modifications, alternatives, adaptations and personal solutions.
Asanas must be practiced, as well as assisted, the goal of yoga as the intention in ones mind and heart in order for the practice to bear the right kind of fruit.
Movement and fluidity must always be part of a Yoga class. Sometimes you might be ask to hold a pose for a while, but there is never a static and no-movement asana, there is no stillness throughout the class until Savasana. The breath is what makes us achieve fluidity and transition. Without the awareness and subtelty of your breath, we are merely doing physical exercise. You want your students to achieve not only a physical wellbeing but also a mental and emotional wellbeing”.
-Ref (Triyoga Teacher Training program source)
Choosing the right instructions and sequence is key point to develop a good sequence.
The importance of Music in a Yoga class
I am a strong believer of the power of music. Music can change your mood, emotional and phycological state.
Pleasant sounds, lead to an increase of dopamine in the brain. Sad songs make us feel good; minor keys inject a dose of prolactin, the same hormone released when a mother nurses her child. Upbeat music with a strong rhythm affects your heartbeat and breathing rate, resulting in lower blood pressure, more efficient oxygen consumption and a more productive exercise routine.
When teachers play beats during savasana, or meditative flute music during a heavy flow or worst of all, cut off a song in the middle you’re sending conflicting signals to everyone’s brains. That’s why learning and studying the power of different tunes it’s also key to balance students energetic waves throughout the class.
If you think music is just “background,” it isn’t. Our brains react to what is played. By understanding music selection and sequencing you can help everyone engage in a more complete yoga experience.
On the other hand, sometimes, playing non appropiate tunes might affect the concentration and energy of your students. Some times I think that the power of a Yoga class is deeply centred in your own body tune, with that I mean, the sound of your own breath (ujjayi), the sound of your hands and feet touching your yoga mat and the very subtle internal sounds caused by your bones and joints when moving. These last ones, can teach us so much about where do we have tension or blockages. For that reason, I always try to read and learn more about music and its unlimited power to be expressed.
Music, is also the combination of your inhalation and exhalation with the friction of your feet from pose to pose and the grip of your hands while holding sweetly your yoga mat 🙂
Special Thanks to Indaba Yoga Studio for letting us take some pictures, the wonderful book of Elena Brower and Erica Jago and Triyoga TT13 tutors for proving us with great tool to become our own best Yoga teachers.
Designing a Yoga class