Friday, February 19, 2010

on teaching yoga & book recommendation

Thank you so much for leaving comments with questions about teaching yoga on my last post! I will work through answering each of the questions over the next week. For today, I will answer the following two questions:

1. How do you keep your yoga classes from becoming stale? Where do you get your inspiration?

2. What is the difference between "teaching" & "assisting"?

1. The question of how to keep yoga classes fresh is a great one--especially since I've been teaching for ten years now and over 1,000 classes. I know firsthand this can be a challenge! Here are my thoughts and recommendations:

***take classes from other instructors in a wide variety of yoga styles as much as possible!
Even if you are a vinyasa flow instructor it can be benificial to take some other styles of
yoga such as Bikram, Iyengar, Kripalu etc. I "borrow" ideas (wording, sequencing, etc)
from other instructors all the time!

***go to a yoga conference or workshop at a minimum once a year. Even though there is
always a lot of review in these for me, I always take a few great ideas away & it's great to
be with other instructors to find inspiration! This year I'm hoping to make it to the 2010
Mid-West yoga conferrence, and I'm so very excited!

***read yoga books

***do and just listen to yoga podcasts (I find myself listening to podcasts on my way to work.
It helps sometimes to just listen rather than be doing the practice because I can pay more
atttention to things like how the instructor ques, wording used, etc.)

2. I'm hoping I am understanding exactly what this particular question is asking. "Teaching" is what every instructor does when they are leading a class. "Assisting" or sometimes called "adjusting" is when an instructor places his or her hands on a client to help the student get deeper into poses or get alignment correct. If you are an instructor in a gym, it's important to check in with the policy of doing assists. For the first 9 years of my instruction I was in a gym, and didn't do assists. Now that I have my own place, I only occasionally use them. It's important before doing adjustments to first establish if the client is comfortable with being touched. In the past I have given out cards (with focus words on them such as "peace," "balance," "breathe" etc.) before class and had clients who were comfortable being assisted put the cards on the right side of their mats, and those who weren't put them on the left side.

In my opinion, assisting should really be the last option used when trying to help students get into poses with correct alignment. I always first make sure to have modeled the pose (sometimes moving directly in front of them and going into the pose myself). If this doesn't help, I try to use different verbal ques to help them. If this doesn't work, I will put my hand in the air outside of their body, and ask them to move a certain body part toward my hand. Last, I would do an assist. I'm actually reading a great book on adjusting right now that I highly, highly recommend (even if you're not going to be doing much assisting, this book is a fabulous resource!): Yoga: The Art of Adjusting by Brian Cooper PhD All you yoga instructors out there should definitely check this out!

I hope these responses answered your questions. Thanks again for sending them. If there are more questions out there, keep them coming! More to come...

Have a fabulous Friday!



Rachel said...

Sometimes, especially if they are a friend, you can observe another teacher's class. We used to do this when we were doing our teacher training, we had to observe a minimum of 6 classes before we could start teaching. It's actually a very different experience to doing a class.

btw - I left you some Sunshine on my blog

AblazeyDaisy said...

Great post! I look forward to reading the next several Q&As on teaching.